Find out when an accident claim management company is acting illegally and the benefits of using a solicitor direct.
Personal injury victim question
Following a recent car crash an accident company called me to see if I would like to make a claim for personal injury. Are these companies legitimate and what is the difference between my claim going through them or a solicitor?
Specialist accident claim solicitor response
Accident claims management companies can be legitimate companies in the UK, but to be so they must be registered with the Ministry Of Justice and as such must adhere to a certain rules, which include:
1. No unsolicited cold calling, approaching members of the public on the street or knocking at doors. This is known as an “unsolicited” approach and is illegal. It is illegal not only for an accident company, but also a solicitor.
Solicitors however are fully aware of their duties and are bound by very strict conduct rules governed by the Law Society and enforced strictly by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority.
Although accident claims companies are registered with the Ministry of Justice – my experience has shown that they are not monitored to anywhere near like the same degree as a professional solicitor.
2. An accident claims management company must not hold itself out expressly or impliedly to be a solicitor. This is a criminal offence.
Employees of accident companies tend to have very little if any legal knowledge and as such are often unaware of this requirement. For example – suggesting on their website that they can give advice, have solicitors who can advise, even using the word solicitor in their titles is misleading and technically illegal.
3. A claims management company cannot run your personal injury claim – but will charge a solicitor to make your claim. The claims management company will typically find the highest bidder for your work and not the best solicitor.
In any event – an accident claims company must declare to you from the outset the fee that it will charge a solicitor to run your claim – this must be put in writing and you must be given a 14 day cool off period before you are bound by any agreement with them.
So in answer to the question – it is illegal for you to receive an unsolicited cold call from an accident company following your car crash. You have been contacted without giving your permission – you must approach an accident company first and not the other way around.
The difference in approaching a specialist solicitor to make your claim compared with using an accident claims company is massive. I would say never use an accident management company as there is absolutely no advantage to you.
The staff at such companies can give you no legal help – if they attempt to advise you it is illegal and possibly even criminal. They will pass your claim to a solicitor who will pay them enough money, but this does not mean you have a good experienced solicitor.
The choice of solicitor is perhaps the single most important decision you must make when deciding to make an accident claim, so approach a solicitor direct and ensure that you are comfortable with that lawyer and can have all of your questions answered.
You will not be bound to use a solicitor until you have signed a retainer contract and as the solicitor has not paid a fee to receive your work – you will not be hurried into accepting a settlement at too low an amount and can be assured your full compensation will be recovered.