It is understandable why many people turn to their car insurance when they have had an accident – after all, isn’t their help what we pay all that money for? However, when it comes to personal injury claims it is always best to instruct your own personal injury specialist to ensure you are getting the best help possible. When you involve your car insurance in organising legal help for a personal injury claim, all they simply do is refer your case across to a panel of their solicitors. This seems a bizarre way of doing things when you think about it – for example: would you trust someone to go and buy your house for you without you viewing the house beforehand and making sure it was the best one for your needs?
When you put your claim through your insurance this is essentially what you are doing – allowing somebody else to guess what type of solicitor is best for you. To make the system even worse, the solicitor they chose will normally pay them a referral fee which will take money away from the budget they have to run your case. In reality, it makes sense for the insurers to pass your case to whichever firm on their panel pays the most for your claim! This system of referral fees is becoming illegal this April – showing just how wrong it really is.
So how does this system actually link to how much your pay out will be for a whiplash claim? Surely, this is just a business being a business and doesn’t affect you?
Under the road traffic accident protocol, solicitors are only able to recover fixed fees for running the claim. Therefore, if a Solicitor has already paid £1,000 out as a referral fee (a figure that is not plucked from thin air – this is the typical amount!) then this £1,000 is taken away from the fixed funds they have available to run your case. This means fewer letters, fewer updates and ultimately can mean they wish to resolve the matter without working too hard on making sure you get the best payout. Insurers always try to pay as little as possible, and it’s our job to fight them tooth and nail for the highest payout. Sadly, these referral fee solicitors just don’t have the funds to fight hard for your maximum payout; they wasted their budget on buying the claim from your own insurer!
We have several calls here at the Injury Lawyers with people wishing to transfer from their referral fee solicitors as they are experiencing the poor service described above. In our experience, some offers made to clients can be extremely low and this just confirms in our minds that the solicitors simply wish to wrap the case up without a fight and move onto the next one. Some offers don’t even coincide with the official JSB guidelines!
The JSB guidelines are used by solicitors and the courts to value certain types of injuries and therefore to think that some valuations simply ignore them seems absurd! So what can you do to avoid getting wrapped up in this system? And what can you do if you are currently involved?!
In the first instance ensure that you contact a personal injury specialist (like us) direct! We do not involve ourselves in referral fees and therefore can concentrate on getting you the best service and result! In the second instance, with the protocol in place, it can be possible to transfer but it may mean we need to evaluate the file of papers from your old solicitor first – but this is something we are more than willing to do and therefore it is well worthwhile giving us a call to discuss this further.