Do I need a local solicitor for a work injury claim?Updated: October 13, 2020
If you have been injured at work, a solicitor can advise you on your options and help you pursue a claim for financial compensation. As a claimant, you will be able to choose from thousands of personal injury firms, ranging from small high street practices to large national firms.
Should you instruct a local solicitor over or national firm and what are the pros and cons of each?
Does location matter?
Personal injury solicitors are used to dealing with claimants based all over the UK. Most people never meet their solicitor as injury claims are handled over the phone, by post and email - even when dealing with a local firm.
Increasingly, in light of COVID-19 measures, the legal profession has embraced video conferencing technology such as Skype and Zoom. It is now possible to have a ‘face to face’ with your solicitor where previously you would have never met, virtually or otherwise.
You may still prefer the idea of a local solicitor, perhaps to retain the option of visiting the firm should you wish to. However, there are other considerations that should have a greater weighting when it comes to deciding the best solicitor for your claim.
In a post-Covid world, what does local mean?
The legal profession has embraced home working. Even before the Covid pandemic, the consumer legal services sector was already edging towards a culture of home working. Case management systems and electronic communications allow solicitors to service their clients from anywhere. Most solicitors are now working from home or remotely, so choosing a local firm is no guarantee that your solicitor will actually be based at the local office.
The most important consideration should be finding a solicitor with the most relevant expertise for your situation. A solicitor with the relevant experience and track record will give you the best chance of winning your case, and securing the best possible compensation settlement.
Some firms generalise, offering advice to people injured or made ill in a large variety of circumstances. These include work injuries, public place injuries, road traffic accidents and clinical negligence.
When choosing a firm you should find out whether the firm employs solicitors with a specialism in your type of injury. You should also ask what their track record is and how likely they think they are to succeed with your claim. Speak to a few firms and make sure your preferred firm inspires confidence.
Larger national firms employ more solicitors and, therefore, have access to a broader set of skills that can increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. However, some people find that the experience of dealing with a larger form is less personal.
Smaller firms may not always have the breadth of expertise but you may feel that the more personal experience offsets this.
Don’t be deterred if the first firm you speak to can’t help
Firms often turn away perfectly valid injury claims for a variety of reasons. It may be that the firm doesn’t employ a solicitor with the specific skills needed for your case. They may have more work than they can currently handle. Some firms cherry-pick cases on the basis of potential financial return. Others may have certain preferences, for example not wanting to take on local authorities as there is often more work involved.
However, the main reason that a firm might reject your claim, even when you are technically eligible to claim, is the initial risk assessment process.
No win no fee claims are underwritten by an ‘ATE’ insurance policy’. This policy pays the defendant’s legal costs in the event that your claim is not successful. As a result, insurance companies require solicitors to carry out an initial risk assessment of a claim to make sure there is a better than average chance of winning.
Risk assessments vary and your claim may well fail an assessment with one firm and pass with another.
If your claim is rejected, a firm is obliged to tell you why. This does not always happen however so you should always seek a second opinion if your case is initially rejected.
How do I find a firm with the right expertise?
Another option when choosing a personal injury solicitor is to speak to a claims management company (CMC).
CMC’s tend to manage national panels of solicitors. Following an initial triage process, a CMC can assign your case to a firm with an exact or very close match of skill sets needed for your claim.
CMC's monitor the acceptance rate and track record of their panel solicitors. This performance monitoring enables CMCs to recommend the solicitor with the best track record in your specific type of injury. You would not be under any obligation to proceed with the CMC’s recommended solicitor if you did not want to.
Assuming you meet certain criteria, a CMC will usually be able to identify a firm that is willing to take your claim on. This is a huge benefit as the alternative may be contacting a random selection of firms.
If you have been injured at work in the last 3 years, you may be able to claim financial compensation.
Find out more about making a work accident claim:
- Do you qualify?
- How much compensation could you get?
- How does No Win, No Fee work?