I've been injured so why has a solicitor rejected my injury claim?

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You may have been injured in an accident that was not your fault and may be eligible to make a claim. Despite this, a personal injury solicitor may still reject your case. Why?

What are the criteria for making a personal injury claim?

To make a successful personal injury claim:

  • your injury must have happened within the last three years (limitation)
  • the injury must have been caused by another party that owed you a duty of care, e.g. another driver, or your employer (liability).
  • the accident was the direct cause of the injury (causation)

If I meet the above criteria, will a solicitor take on my claim?

Maybe. Assuming that you meet all of the above, you will still need to get through the solicitor's claim 'vetting' or 'risk assessment' procedure.

How do solicitors vet claims before accepting them?

After you have provided the details of your injury, the solicitor will ask further questions to ascertain whether they take your case on. Even if you meet the basic eligibility criteria, there will be additional hurdles to clear before a solicitor can assist with your claim:

The £1,000 rule

The solicitor will want to ensure that the total potential sum of general and special damages is likely to exceed £1,000 - the small claims court limit. If the claim is worth less than this then the solicitor will not be able to recover their costs from the defendant.

A solicitor will consider a claim worth less than £1,000 to be ‘low quantum’.

What about the changes to the law in 2021?

The law relating to personal injury claims is changing in June 2021.

The small claims court limit is increasing from £1,000 to £5,000 for RTA claims and from £1,000 to £1,500 for non-RTA claims. This means that a solicitor will consider a claim valued below the small claims limit as 'low quantum'.

In addition, compensation for whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries will be reduced.

Too close to the limitation date

Most solicitors will not take on a case if there are fewer than six months left before the 3-year limitation period expires. Some solicitors require a least 12 months.

This requirement is because formal court documents must be filed before the limitation date. A significant amount of work (e.g. sourcing evidence and arranging medical assessments) needs to take place before court documents can be filed. Most solicitors don't want to take the risk of committing resources to a claim and then running out of time.

Assuming that you have a claim and the defendant accepts liability, negotiating the right amount of compensation will also take time. Further medical exams or expert witness statements may be needed to establish the severity of your injury.

Commercial 'pickiness'

You may, for example, have suffered a serious injury in a public place and it is likely that another party owed you a duty of care. Some solicitors will be more than happy to take the claim on if it happened in a supermarket but less keen if it happened in a public place maintained by a local authority.

The reasons for this might be because the solicitor:

  • doesn’t have specific experience with local authority claims.
  • believes that local authority claims are too much work.
  • cannot 'bankroll' lengthy cases.
  • has a poor track record with local authority claims and cannot obtain suitable ATE insurance cover.

Every solicitor firm is different. Where one firm might not accept claims against local authorities, another firm might specialise in these claims.

Acceptable financial risk

Once a personal injury solicitor has verified that you meet the basic criteria, they will want to make sure that you represent an acceptable financial risk for them. Crudely speaking - is there enough money in it for them?

Since the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) was introduced in 2013, solicitors' success fees are no longer recoverable from the defendant. Success fees are also now capped at 25% of the claimant's damages.

The personal injury sector is heavily regulated and has been subject to ever-increasing restrictions governing conduct in the industry. Solicitors have welcomed many of these regulatory changes. However, the commercial landscape has made it difficult for inefficient firms to run personal injury claims at a profit.

So solicitors only take on the 'dead certs'?

Most solicitors working on a conditional fee (no win, no fee) basis will want to make sure that they have a better than 50% chance of winning. ATE insurance providers will usually require a better than 50% chance of winning before they will insure a claim.

To estimate the probability of success, solicitors employ a complex risk assessment process.

If the defendant has accepted liability from the outset, the solicitor is almost certain to take on your claim - assuming that the quantum is acceptable.

What if my case has a less than 50% chance of success?

Some solicitors are more flexible than others. If your claim is of higher value, the solicitor may reduce the risk threshold.

Of course, a firm will happily take on any claim when the claimant is self-funding. If the claim is to be funded by no win, no fee (most are), solicitors will be more risk-averse.

Isn’t no win, no fee meant to help people?

Yes. In theory, no win, no fee provides access to justice for anyone who has been injured and is seeking to make a claim.

However, conditional fee agreements are underwritten by ATE insurance. ATE insurance is a self-insuring policy whereby the claimant takes out an insurance policy after the outcome of the case is known. The policy is then paid for by the defendant if the claim is successful.

If the solicitor takes on cases that they keep losing, the solicitor will find it increasingly challenging to obtain ATE cover. If the solicitor is unable to secure ATE insurance cover for their clients, they will go out of business.

As a result, claimants with a more marginal case may find it more difficult to claim on a no win, no fee basis.

Read more:

How does no win, no fee work?

Surely 25% of my injury award is enough for a solicitor?

It may be. Injury settlements can sometimes be hundreds of thousands of pounds. High-value claims are often taken on for a lower percentage success fee.

Lower value claims (e.g. £2,000 for a whiplash injury) mean a solicitor might only recover £500 in success fees for months of work and no certainty of winning.

Your solicitor will discuss and agree success fee with you at the beginning of your claim.

See also:

Why do most injury solicitors charge 25% success fees?

Should I get a second opinion if my claim is rejected?

Yes. Solicitors often neglect to tell potential claimants why their claim was not accepted. Your solicitor should tell you why your claim was not accepted and if you might still be able to claim through another firm.

If your claim is initially turned down by a solicitor, you should seek a second opinion. A second opinion won’t cost you anything, and you may find that another solicitor considers your claim quite differently.

Calculate compensation

How can Quittance help?

Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 376 1001 or arrange a callback:

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Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

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Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor