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If you have suffered an accident in England, just like in Wales or Scotland, you may be able to recover compensation for the cost of your suffering such as medical bills, time off work or any other losses you may have experienced. Unlike the lottery-win state of mind we see in countries like America, English accident compensation claims are intended to “set right” any inconveniences suffered by a claimant whether monetary or physical rather than punish the company or individual responsible. If you honestly believe that you deserve millions of pounds for spilling coffee in your lap then maybe you should think about emigrating because there are no plans in the pipe line to overturn the current responsible method of compensating individuals in the UK. It has been said by some that we are already knee deep in a compensation culture in England, but compensation claims do not run themselves and the problem is only as big as the number of English law firms willing to pursue obviously fraudulent lawsuits. Indeed, since the scandals of Claims Direct (the original one, apparently another claims firm has started up under the same name in recent years?) and The Accident Group there has not risen another similar English injury claim management company looking to con people into buying overpriced legal insurance policies. There are some bordering on such, though, and you should always ask the person signing you up as the average such policy is £200-£400, not £1200-£1500 as those now-bankrupt companies were charging.
Whether in Scotland, Wales or England the no win no fee arrangement can generally be found for nearly all case types such as car accidents, work injuries, whiplash injuries, RSI and so on. The only claim types where a solicitor in England might have trouble offering you such is medical negligence cases, especially if the foundations of that case are incredibly sketchy. Unfortunately, the investigation costs of a malpractice suit can often be high and unless a solicitor feels that they have a good chance of winning you may have to fund the case yourself. This is rare and you may benefit from seeking out an English injuries solicitor that is well experienced in medical negligence cases as they might have a better handle on your chances and the costs of investigating and presenting your case. Since the loss of legal aid for compensation claimants, nearly every law firm in England will offer to run your case on a no win, no fee (or ‘conditional fee’) arrangement. This puts the lawyers in England on the front line of ensuring the injuries claims industry remains ethical as the responsibility for funding lawsuits sits squarely on their shoulders rather than the taxpayer’s. When you consider that in 2007 the government spent £2billion on legal aid (source: Ministry of Justice) any help to keep those costs down for the taxpayer are welcome!
Using a law firm in England, rather than a claims management company, does have certain advantages towards obtaining a timely resolution to your claim for compensation. For example lets use whiplash – a common injury resulting from the many road traffic accidents in England every day – where the average value of the claim is around £2,000. With solicitors in England charging fees averaging £140 an hour and legal insurance policies at roughly £300 very quickly the cost to the third party in legal fees can often equal and even exceed the value of the compensation being sought. To make money, a claims management firm will often have to sell you a higher costing legal insurance policy and their other expenses can also be passed on to the solicitor and inserted into the legal bill. Many times the biggest delaying factor for a case is when a third party disputes the amount being claimed for and many times this can be over the legal costs attached rather than the compensation amount itself. Indeed, the collapse of famous claims management firms such as Claims Direct and The Accident Group were from the refusal of third parties to pay out the extortionate legal fees attached to each case. So if your injury is quite small you may find that the speed and success of your case is helped by going direct to an English injury lawyer even though it might take more time to find one willing to take on your case. Having sat on the defence team for companies being sued for compensation, nine times out of ten the first thing looked for is “padding”.
For an English claim to have the best chance of success, the solicitors/lawyers running it need to have experience, not only in personal injury claims, but in the type of claim being brought. Many state a speciality in the more difficult case types such as medical negligence and criminal injury compensation for victims of violent crimes. It might be hard to discern whether the individual you are speaking to over the phone has such experience but if you make a list of questions prior to calling a law firm you can more easily probe into their expertise rather than being swept away by a smooth talker. Of course, with many such cases being quite traumatic to the individual making the claim, having a lawyer that you actually get on with and who seems to empathise with your circumstances is also important.