What can I do if a solicitor won't take on my injury claim?Updated: October 13, 2022
We explain why some personal injury solicitors might not accept a valid injury claim, and what you should do if your claim is initially rejected.
See also: Making a work injury claim
Am I eligible to make a personal injury claim?
In most cases you would (technically) be able to make a no win, no fee personal injury claim if:
- you were injured in the last 3 years
- your injuries resulted from your accident
- another party was responsible for your accident
- that party owed you a duty of care
What is a duty of care?
A 'duty of care' is the legal obligation of an individual, organisation, business, or employer, to keep others safe from harm.
Road users owe a duty of care to other road users, schools owe a duty of care to teachers and pupils, and doctors owe a duty of care for their patients.
Employers owe a duty of care to their employees, contractors, visitors and anyone else that might be reasonably impacted by your employer's operation.
Fundamentally, the law requires employers to provide a safe working environment and to ensure the health and safety of employees. Employers must reduce and mitigate risks wherever it is reasonable and practical to do so.
If your employer failed in their duty of care to you and you were injured as a result, your employer will be held liable (at fault) and a compensation claim may be possible.
How does a solicitor assess a new injury claim?
A personal injury solicitor will initially look at whether you meet the above criteria. With certain exceptions, your claim is likely to be rejected if these conditions are not met.
Even if a potential claimant meets these criteria, however, it is not guaranteed that the solicitor will accept the claim.
Why would a solicitor reject a valid claim?
Solicitors will also apply their own criteria when deciding whether to accept a case. This process is known as 'claim vetting' or 'risk assessment'.
Solicitors often reject claims for the following reasons:
The claim has 'poor prospects'
Solicitors working on a no win, no fee basis don't earn any fees if they lose a case. Most solicitors want to have a greater than 50% chance of winning the claim.
If the defendant has admitted liability, or if there is strong supporting evidence, a solicitor is very likely to accept your claim. If your claim has a lower chance of success, a solicitor may still take on your case, especially if the value of the case is high.
The claim is 'low quantum'
A solicitor may refuse to take on your claim if it is ‘low quantum' (legal jargon for 'low value').
If you have sustained minor work injuries and your claim is worth less than £1,500, a solicitor will not usually accept your case.
£1,500 is currently the small claims court limit for work accident claims. This means claims valued at less than £1,500 must be pursued through the small claims court.
The claim is too close to the ‘limitation date'
In most cases, to make a successful claim the date of your accident, or the date in which your injury was diagnosed, must have happened in the last 3 years.
Putting a claim together can take up a lot of time and involves significant amounts of work, gathering evidence to support a claim, arranging medical examinations, and filing formal court documents before the expiry date.
Your solicitor will not want to risk running out of time, if, for example, a witness statement or medical report is delayed.
Even if the other side accepts liability, negotiating compensation can take time, as further medical essessments or expert witnesses may be required to establish the severity of your injury.
Some solicitors won't accept claims when the accident occurred more than 30 (or even 24) months ago.
The claim is (commercially) too risky
A solicitor will assess the financial risk of taking on your claim.
The solicitor will assess:
- the likelihood of winning
- the commercial viability of the case
- whether the case meets the terms of their ATE insurance policy terms.
Even when a claim is valued at over the small claims court limit, some solicitors may not regard the case as commercially viable.
What is ATE Insurance?
ATE Insurance is a counterpart of any Conditional Fee Agreement that makes no win, no fee claims possible.
Sometimes referred to as Legal Expenses Insurance, an ATE Insurance policy would be taken out on your behalf at the start of your claim to cover any costs incurred if you lose your claim.
ATE insurance covers the legal expenses and costs involved in litigation. The claimant takes out this policy, which is deducted from the compensation award if the claim is successful.
If a solicitor repeatedly loses no win, no fee claims, it will be difficult for the solicitor to secure ATE insurance for future cases. This could put the solicitor out of business.
For this reason, solicitors need to ensure that they have a good chance of winning before accepting a claim,
Aren't solicitors obliged to accept valid claims?
No. Personal injury solicitors are not legally required to take on a case if they don't want to.
Although most solicitors will accept most valid claims most of the time, they are under no obligation to do so. A solicitor may reject your claim simply because they are too busy with other work.
Does the solicitor have to explain why they have rejected my claim?
Yes, when a solicitor tells you they cannot take on your claim, they should explain why. They should also recommend that you seek a second opinion from another firm, even if the reason for rejecting your claim is a fundamental issue, like you are out of time.
Are there any other reasons why my claim might be rejected?
You may find that there are other reasons why a solicitor may not take on your claim. Some of these may be more valid than others, and some firms can be quite 'picky'.
For example, if your injury took place in a supermarket, a solicitor might be happy to take on your claim. However, if the same injury took place in a public place managed by a local authority, they may well refuse. What's the difference?
- The solicitor may be inexperienced in taking on local authorities
- A local authority claim may be considered too much work
- The firm may not be able to bankroll a lengthy case against a local authority
- The firm may have a poorer track record with cases like this and as a result, may not be able to obtain appropriate insurance.
Find out how much could claimCalculate my claim
A solicitor has rejected my claim - what should I do?
Get a second opinion. If your claim has been initially rejected by one firm of solicitors, don't give up. Remember that just because one solicitor rejects your claim, it doesn't mean that another solicitor will.
- Ask the firm why your claim was rejected
- Speak to a few more firms about your claim
- Ask about the level of compensation you could receive
- Ask whether the firm thinks they can win your claim and what success fee they will charge if you do.
Have you been injured at work?
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?
Read more: Work accident claim guide
Our work injury advisors will:
- Offer free, impartial advice
- Explain how No Win, No Fee works
- Recommend the right solicitor