Personal Injury Lawyer: How To Choose The Best UK Accident Solicitor To Make Your Personal Injury Compensation Claim
Discover what a specialist personal injury lawyer actually is, how to check a solicitor’s level of expertise and the things you should be careful of before signing a legal fees agreement.
What is a specialist personal injury lawyer?
A lawyer in the UK is the name given to either a solicitor or a barrister.
A solicitor is the lawyer you will instruct to run your compensation claim.
Solicitors can practice in many areas of law or just one. A solicitor who practices only in personal injury is a specialist personal injury lawyer.
What is the an accredited personal injury solicitor?
A specialist personal injury lawyer who is experienced should be accredited by the Law Society.
England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland each have their own National Law Society, which collectively monitor all the solicitors practising in the UK.
In England & Wales – there exist various accreditation schemes for solicitors who can prove that they are specialists in an area of law with a high level of expertise.
A Law Society accredited personal injury solicitor is the scheme used to recognise specialist specialist personal injury lawyers.
To be accredited a lawyer must be a solicitor with at least three years experience as a personal injury specialist with a high level of expertise.
Often lawyers with many years experience are not accepted on the personal injury panel, because they are unable to prove their expertise is sufficiently high.
See the Law Society Accreditation check – to see to see if your solicitor is an accredited member of the Personal Injury Panel.
Are there any other Law Society accreditation schemes relevant to personal injury?
“Yes” – there are various different different areas of personal injury law each with their own accreditation scheme.
For example – the Law Society considers clinical / medical negligence to be a type of personal injury requiring specialist expertise so another a clinical negligence accreditation scheme also exists.
If you have suffered clinical negligence use the Law Society search to check if a clinical negligence solicitor is accredited.
What is an insurance company panel solicitor?
You may have an insurance policy which pays for your legal costs in making claim and if so the insurance company will ask you to use one of their panel solicitors.
For example – as often found with household contents legal protection cover (typically funding a personal injury lawyer to help with all accidents except motor accidents) or on your motor policy (fundng a personal injury solicitor to deal with a road accident claim).
The use of the word panel solicitor can be slightly misleading, as it only means that the firm the solicitor works in is approved by the insurance company and on their panel (in other words they have agreed a relationship with the insurer). It does not necessarily mean that the individual solicitor is a Law Society accredited solicitor.
If the legal costs insurance is part of a motor policy you will normally only be able to claim your legal costs if you use the insurer’s panel solicitor. Sometimes household insurance legal protection may give you the option of using a solicitor of your choosing if a request is made with your insurer.
TIP – you should always make use of your legal costs insurance policy if it is available, even if it means not being able to choose your own solicitor. It is the cheapest way to meet your legal costs.
Don’t despair – if legal protection cover is not available you can instruct a personal injury solicitor using a no win no fee / conditional fee agreement.
What is APIL and does a lawyer who is a member of APIL have special expertise?
APIL stands for the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. It is a body set up for specialist personal injury lawyers.
A lawyer need only pay a membership fee to be a member of APIL and does not have to prove any level of expertise.
Beware – a lawyer who only advertises membership of APIL might not be an expert personal injury lawyer. To check ask the question, “Are you an accredited Law Society personal injury solicitor?”
Be careful of who exactly you are speaking to before signing an agreement?
Some businesses have slightly misleading names that they use to advertise.
For example, the word “lawyer” or “expert” may be used in a business name, but this does not mean it is a firm of solicitors.
The word “solicitor” however cannot be used in a business name unless it is a solicitor business.
If the word “solicitor” is not used – the business may be a claims management company, which is typically run by non-lawyers, who are not legally qualified and so not able to advise you on your compensation claim.
They should however pass you to a solicitor firm that will deal with your claim – they will charge that solicitor a fee, which they should tell you of.
The question then arises – “Are you being passed to the best solicitor for the job?”
Before you sign any agreement – be sure that the person you are speaking to is a specialist personal injury solicitor or will pass you to a specialist solicitor. If you are not happy – hang up and contact a specialist solicitor directly.
Personal injury lawyer article summary and recommended next steps
On this page you have seen how to choose the best specialist personal injury lawyer to make your compensation claim.
We recommend you now see our no win no fee article to learn the cheapest ways to fund your personal injury solicitor’s legal costs in claiming your compensation.
Online Personal Injury Solicitor Free Help
Select from our specialist solicitor free online / telephone help to have your online questions answered, have your claim assessed, or discuss direct your accident circumstances with a specialist personal injury lawyer.