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Why choose a local solicitor to deal with your accident claim?


I was recently asked to speak to a friend, ‘Bob’ who had been involved in a nasty motor accident. The police had attended and Bob had needed medical treatment. Apart from that, save for the person who had caused the accident, the only third party involved at that time was the local garage.

However, Bob then received paperwork from two law firms, both located at the other end of the country, telling him that they were acting for him in relation to his claim for compensation. As far as he was concerned, Bob had not contacted either firm and had no idea how they had obtained his contact details. This was before Bob had even contacted his own insurer to sort out the damage to his car.

Both of the law firms sent Bob a large amount of paperwork including a legally binding  agreement to pay a fee which was wholly disproportionate to the facts of the case, which was described by both as being ‘high risk’. The written approaches made were without prior discussion but would have had Bob believe that they were acting in his best interests. Bob felt completely confused and out of his depth with all of this.

“Why should this interest me?” you may ask. Well, accidents do happen, be they at work, on the roads, in public places or in countless other situations. They are not caused intentionally and that is why the law requires motorists, businesses and other bodies to carry liability insurance, so that those who suffer injury and loss through the fault of another may be compensated. The effect on the individual and their family of significant injury may quickly become quite devastating.

In order to bring a successful claim for compensation in this country, even though an accident victim may be entirely blameless, they are still required to prove fault for the accident itself and then prove the injuries and their effects which have occurred to them. This can be more difficult than you might think.

Save in the most straightforward type of case, a thorough investigation into how the accident happened and the injuries and financial loss which result must be made. Depending on the severity of the injuries suffered and their effects, the claim process may take time to work through to completion and can be demanding and stressful. Before achieving the right outcome, it may be appropriate to get financial relief to ease the immediate financial burden of perhaps not being able to work or to pay for rehabilitation to speed recovery.

It should therefore be very important before starting a claim to choose the right solicitor to represent you throughout the claims procedure. An experienced local solicitor, who is readily accessible and with whom there is face-to-face contact when needed, will always better understand the client because of the personal nature of their relationship, as well as offering continuity throughout.

This may not be the case if a claim is handled remotely, by an often anonymous and sometimes ever changing ‘claims handler’ at the end of a telephone, which also risks missing important detail. A personal injury claim is by its nature a very personal thing – so ought to be dealt with personally. So should you have the misfortune to suffer injury and need to ask for legal advice, do think carefully before taking that first step.

David Peake is an associate solicitor at Everys Solicitors specialising in personal injury claims. Based at their Exeter office, he also serves clients from the firm’s other offices in Devon and Somerset.

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