The settlement of a personal injury claim can be a complex process.
As well as analysis of medical evidence produced for both sides it is important that all heads of claim are taken into account.
These may involve losses incurred before settlement as well as assessment of future losses such as earnings, care required in the future, or an assessment of to what extent the injured person’s capacity on the open labour market to earn their living has been prejudiced.
There may be a claim for necessary adaption of a home or workplace or extra travel costs resulting from a need to have an automatic or adapted vehicle, loss of pension or future private medical treatment or medical aids.
In 2013 the Government introduced fixed fees for many personal injury claims the net effect of which has been to reduce the sum paid to solicitors for the fees they earn.
A study by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in 2016 concluded that:
“Many PI firms have responded to the introduction of fixed recoverable costs by using unqualified and inexperienced staff to run these claims in order to make cost savings.”
It is often the relative inexperience of a junior employee asked to deal with a personal injury claim, or a failure to supervise that work, that can lead to mistakes being made.
Alternatively a lawyer given settlement targets or an excessive volume of claims may “cut corners” to reach a settlement therefore leaving the injured person under compensated?
In deciding when to settle a claim it is important that the solicitor fully explains the ramifications of settling too early so that a client can make an appropriate judgement as to the risks associated with settling early.
Again, if a lawyer is under pressure to settle cases, or reach targets, sometimes the advice given is not as robust or clear as it needs to be.
As well as dealing with the value of a claim in terms of compensation a client will need to be advised about their prospects of success, the chances of losing the claim and any contributory negligence on their part.
Inevitably as valuation of a personal injury case is not an exact science there will be some clients who are over compensated and some undercompensated.
Many cases are concluded before the client has recovered based on medical opinion as to their likely period of recovery and if the solicitor has considered all the potential heads of claim, and applied a valuation based on previous cases and guidelines or taken the opinion of a specialist barrister in some instances then a lawyer will normally have done his or her job.
But there are a number of instances where junior, often unqualified staff deal with claims and get it wrong.
Instance of professional negligence include:-
- Claims which are settled with insurance companies before proper medical evidence has been obtained.
- Claims where heads of claim have been missed by mistake such as loss of earnings or a reduction in earning capacity.
- Cases which have been struck out entirely, or where heads of claims cannot be pursued, because of a breach of court orders.
- Cases which have been handled by claims management companies who have taken an excessive sum from your damages in breach of the original agreement reached.
- Claims where the client is still suffering and inadequate medical evidence was obtained having regard to the nature of the medical issues you had as a result of the accident.
- Claims where some, or all of the damages, have been taken by fraud.
If you believe corners were cut in your case what can be done?
Very often when claims are concluded the payment is in full and final settlement of all claims. However, the solicitor will nearly always have insurance to cover their mistakes.
In order to succeed in a claim of this nature against a solicitor it will be necessary for you to show:
- That you would have proceeded with the head of claim (or claim itself) if you had been properly advised.
- That the chance you have lost is real and not fanciful.
- That if the court thinks you have lost a chance it will reduce the damages recovered to reflect that loss of chance not the whole value.
At Specters our solicitors have been dealing with under settlement cases for over 25 years and will give you clear and objective advice as to your chances of succeeding.
If we believe you have a reasonable prospect of success we will provide you with help under a conditional fee agreement on a No Win No Fee basis meaning that if you succeed we will guarantee the proportion of your damages you will receive and if you lose you will pay nothing.
Get in touch by using our simple online claims form now.