Get the right adviceUpdated: January 19, 2021
If you sustained an injury or illness at work, you may decide to claim financial compensation.
The first step in making a claim is to seek legal advice about your options.
You may be seeking compensation to help with your recovery, losses and living costs. Perhaps you have already spoken to one solicitor and your claim has been rejected?
Every solicitor has their own areas of expertise and experience
Some solicitors are generalists who’ve handled a couple of straightforward work accident claims, some have years of experience in niche areas of employer’s negligence law.
Some commercially-minded firms may only be interested in ‘easy win’ cases, whereas other solicitors are more willing to take on more challenging claims.
With thousands of personal injury solicitors in the UK, how can you be sure you are getting the right advice?
Did you know that solicitors routinely reject valid claims?
A successful work accident claim must meet certain basic conditions, such as:
- Did the accident happen in the last three years?
- Was another party (your employer) responsible for the accident?.
As a potential claimant, you might think that meeting the basic criteria ensures that any solicitor will take your case on. However, solicitors will also assess your claim according to their own in-house criteria.
Where one solicitor might reject your claim because, for example, the claim is of ‘lower value’ or sits outside their core expertise, another firm might accept the case and ultimately win.
How do solicitors decide to take on a case?
When considering whether to accept your claim, a solicitor will carry out an initial risk assessment. The term ‘risk assessment’ is somewhat misleading as it refers to the risk shouldered by the ‘ATE insurance’ provider (part of any No Win, No Fee agreement), not you the claimant.
The ‘risk’ is that your No Win, No Fee case fails, the ATE insurance pays out to cover legal costs, and the insurer is left out of pocket.
Chance of winning
For a solicitor to accept a claim they will usually need to satisfy their insurer that there is a better than 50% chance of winning. Yet ATE insurance companies effectively dictate their own risk assessment process to solicitors and each insurer uses their own assessment.
As a result, a claim might fail the risk assessment with one firm and yet pass with another solicitor firm that uses a different ATE provider.
Another common reason for rejecting a claim is the limitation date. Most claims must be started within 3 years of the accident or date of diagnosis. The 3-year time limit is the point at which the matter is ‘statute barred’ and cannot be taken to court.
The majority of claims (over 95%) never go to court because the two sides gather evidence and negotiate a settlement out of court beforehand. Only if a settlement cannot be negotiated would a claim progress through the courts.
This pre-court process must be completed before the 3-year limitation date expires and court papers are filed. Depending on the nature of the claim and the seriousness of the injuries, the pre-court stage can take months to complete. Consequently, some firms reject claims with 6 or even 12 months remaining, as a matter of policy.
If your employer admits liability for your injuries, the case is very likely to be accepted. It is still possible to win a claim where the employer initially denies liability, but winning can take more time and effort (and therefore cost) on the part of your solicitor.
Some firms are reluctant to accept a claim if the employer has initially denied liability. Knowing this, many employers are initially advised by their insurers to deny liability.
Value of the claim
A firm might reject a claim as ‘not commercially viable’. Yet this rejection might be a result of a law firm's own inefficiencies and not a measure of the claim’s actual chance of success.
Some firms have the technology to quickly and cost-effectively handle ‘lower-value’ claims, whereas other firms are not as efficient.
On the other hand, a solicitor may reject a claim because it is too ‘high value’. This may seem strange, but higher value claims for very serious, long-term or permanent injury can often take much longer to run, and some firms cannot afford to bankroll a case for years before they get paid.
Why has my case been rejected?
If a firm rejects your claim, you should be informed as to why. Firms rarely stress the importance of seeking a second opinion and they are not required to do so.
If the first solicitor they speak to rejects their case, a claimant may decide not to pursue their claim any further. However, seeking a second opinion might have identified a firm willing to accept the case.
If you do get a second opinion and your claim is again rejected, there may still be a solicitor willing to bat for you. The problem is, with over 10,000 personal injury solicitors currently practising in the UK, you can't approach them all.Find out more: What can I do if a solicitor won't take on my injury claim?
The right advice can make all the difference
The Work Accident Advice Centre, in association with our partners at National Accident Law, offer free, impartial help to injured workers in the UK.
Trained work accident advisers will listen to what happened, answer your questions and clearly explain your options.
If you decide to pursue a claim, we can recommend the right solicitor from the specialist panel of work accident solicitors.
If your claim requires particular expertise, such as for asbestosis or brain injury claims, the panel’s breadth of experience means we can usually help you.
Even if your claim is ultimately rejected by a panel member, we can arrange further opinions from other solicitors.
A track record of success
Panel solicitors are selected based on their track record. It is one thing having a claim accepted, but if the solicitor doesn’t have the experience and proficiency to win your claim, you may as well not have bothered.
- knowing the case law inside out,
- familiarity with specific insurer tactics,
- knowing what your claim is really worth, and
- negotiating the best settlement.
Your solicitor must also have an eye on completing the process in a timeframe where compensation can make a difference to your recovery and rehabilitation.
We offer free, impartial advice to injured workers in the UK. We will listen to what happened, answer your questions and clearly explain your options.
If you decide to claim, we can recommend the right solicitor for your circumstances.0800 218 2227
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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?