Compensation solicitors have a well-earned reputation of being aloof. Their offices are like something out of the Victorian era. They're professionals who don't like outsiders telling them how to run their private little clubs, called "Firms". All in all, they may even have a horrible reputation. So, what should you expect when you first meet a personal injury solicitor? |
Unlike the Dickensian movies you may have seen, accident solicitors these days like to work out of offices that are spacious and open-plan. Like banks, they hope to give visitors the feeling of being friendly and comfortable. More often than not, you'll be met by a receptionist, but it is also likely that as soon as the solicitor knows you have arrived they will come and greet you and walk you through to their offices or a meeting room depending how packed their rooms are with files.
Having enter the room, it is likely that the first thing the compensation solicitor will ask you to do is to tell them all about what happened. It is at this time, the notes you wrote following the accident will come in handy as you can use these to tell the solicitor all about the accident.
If possible, you should also hand over any photographs you took at the scene of the accident and a copy of your medical report, if you have one. Don't be overly concerned if the accident solicitor doesn't say too much at this time and don't worry if you see them taking notes from time to time. They only do this to jog their memories of facts they may want to ask you more about later or use against the other party.
Frequently your personal injury solicitor will hear your story before they ask you any questions. Once you have completed your story they will then ask some questions that they feel are central to whether or not you'll win your case. When answering these questions you need to be as honest as you can - after all, if you mislead the accident solicitor you are really only misleading yourself. Waste his time, and you are wasting your own.
Agreeing To Act For You
So long as your story and your answers to his questions give the solicitor grounds to believe you have a claim, he'll likely agree to act as your compensation solicitor. In that case you should expect the following things to happen:
o If you have not already had a medical examination by this point, the solicitor will then arrange for you to have one.
o The solicitor will arrange for you to sign an engagement letter authorising you to retain his/her services.
o The solicitor will likely ask you to sign a power of attorney authorising him/her to have access to certain information relating to the case; such as your medical records and the status of your insurance claim;
o In the engagement letter you sign, the solicitor will likely have a clause that says he can act as your represented solicitor in any discussions with the insurance company or the insurance loss adjuster.
o The solicitor will ask if you have spoken to the insurance company and will then ask you not to talk to them directly any more but to direct any queries to him.
What Happens If The Accident Solicitor Doesn't Agree To Act For You?
In certain circumstances, having heard your story the personal injury solicitor may tell you that they cannot act for you in this matter. Now, there may be a number of reasons for this.
It may be the case that they do not think you'll win the case. Just as likely, it could be the case that having heard your story they have become aware of a conflict of interest and realise they cannot, professionally and ethically, act for you.
Whatever the case, if the solicitor tells you that they cannot act for you, you should ask them if they can recommend to you an accident claim solicitor who can help you. In most cases they'll be very happy to give you the name of an accident compensation solicitor they believe will be happy to represent you.
Don't be misled into thinking that everything has to be one way. If you are not too sure whether you want to retain the services of the accident solicitor for your compensation claim you should feel free to ask questions of them.
Good questions you may want to ask are what areas of law they specialise in (to make sure that they specialise, or at least know, the area of law that is going to affect your case) and how many similar cases they have won in the past (so you get some idea about their track record!).
Whatever you do, do not be afraid or overawed by being in the presence of an accident claim solicitor - they're only human after all!
So do you really need to see them?
Not really, as you can cut out the journey, which practically saves you a lot of time and energy. Today, to be efficient, everything is done either on the phone or over the net, except for the obvious court attendance. Not virtual yet, but could be in the future!
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