Choosing the right solicitor for you
October 12, 2012 at 1:31 PM
Top Ten Tips for selecting the right Accident Solicitor to handle your claim.
Which one of the many will be right for you?
Choosing a Solicitor to represent you is not an easy task and it may sometimes feel like you are betting on a horse. However if you apply the following criteria you will remove a lot of the risk and more than likely end up with the right person for the job.
This is probably the most important decision you will make as the quality of service you get from your chosen solicitor will determine the success of your case and the amount of compensation you will get. It is essential that your solicitor has the right knowledge and experience to represent you.
Make the wrong selection and your guarantee of a successful outcome could be substantially undermined. Your solicitor must be up to speed on the latest statutes, case law, legal trends and court awards.
You should be seeking a solicitor who is:
- A claims expert;
- who will give you the time and compassion you need;
- who speaks plain English;
- who is assertive and not afraid of court;
- who is personable;
- who inspires you with confidence;
- who is easy to contact;
- who has a lot of experience under his belt;
- who will get you full and fair compensation for your claim and;
- who is cost effective.
Tip no 1: Always select an expert.
Many solicitors will present themselves as specialists. A specialist is someone who devotes most of his or her time to the chosen speciality, in this case claiming damages for all types of claims coming before the courts. An expert will be up to date on all aspects of the law, will be expert in negotiating with insurance companies, will have at hand the best experts to give evidence on your behalf and will have the depth of experience that is required to achieve a great result for you. He or she will also be a member of a specialist organisation such as the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and will also be regulated by the Law Society of Ire;and.
Tip no 2: Always ask who will process your claim.
Many solicitors will happily offer their services when you are looking to give them your business. After that, your case may be delegated down the line often to a legal executive who is not a qualified solicitor or even to a trainee and you will find yourself on a conveyor belt without getting the care and attention you and your claim require and deserve. Check the name and qualifications and experience of the person who will process your claim. Get a guarantee that this person or a suitably qualified and experienced person will personally process your case from beginning to end. A senior litigator will have the most experience and will almost always achieve the highest possible award for you.
Tip no 3: Ask about your solicitor’s communication policy.
After your initial consultation, for your own convenience, most of your queries will probably be handled by telephone. Some solicitors are very difficult to contact. Frequently clients are left talking to and getting information from secretaries, as their solicitor simply fails to communicate or to return calls. Excuses such as ‘he is at a meeting’ or ‘he is in court’ are used and you will be left waiting for the return call which may never come. This is VERY FRUSTRATING for you. Check the telephone communication policy of the firm. Do they guarantee to return calls within 24 hours? Do you get the personal mobile number and email of the solicitor assigned to your case? Can he or she get your messages and emails direct to a handheld such as a Blackberry or iphone even if he or she is in court? That way there will be no excuses and you will always get the answer you need when you need it. This is very important for your own peace of mind as litigation for many is a stressful process.
Tip no 4: Get your solicitor to fund the legal expenses involved in processing the claim.
A typical claim could cost between 1k and 5k in outlays to get to court depending on whether liability for the claim is in dispute and depending on the size of the claim. Most solicitors will fund these outlays and will recoup them from the costs recovered at the end if successful. Although not allowed to advertise this, some solicitors will also take the case on a ‘No foal no fee’ or a contingency arrangement. This will usually cost extra as the solicitor is assuming the risk and will not be able to recoup his losses if the case is lost. Be clear about the service your solicitor is providing and ask if you will be expected to fund your own claim. Most claimants prefer not to have to incur the extra costs in funding their own claims.
Tip no 5: Have the costs clearly explained to you.
The legal profession has a poor reputation when it comes to explaining legal costs. Injury Claims are first filed with the Injuries Board. Other claims are filed directly in court.
The first stage which involves processing the claim through the Injuries Board will, if successful, result in an award which makes no mention of costs so you will have to pay the costs out of your compensation.
The second stage will be the processing of the claim through the courts (assuming the first stage does not yield a satisfactory result) and the costs of the court case will, if the claim is successful, be awarded against the responsible party (the Defendant’) in addition to the compensation award that you get. These costs are called ‘Party and Party Costs’. Usually, solicitors will ask you to pay more costs out of your compensation to ‘top up’ these costs. These costs are called ‘Solicitor and Client costs’. The payment of these additional costs should result in you getting a ‘premium service’ as opposed to a ‘standard service’.
A Solicitor cannot charge a percentage of an award of compensation. All of this can be confusing for many claimants.
Tip no 6: Find out what happens if you have to sack your Solicitor.
Some clients fall out with their legal advisers for a variety of reasons. For example there may be a clash of personalities, failure to communicate, delays in processing the claim, expectations not being met, to mention but a few. If this happens you need to have an agreed exit mechanism in place. Ask your solicitor what the firm’s policy is, if you need to change to another solicitor before your claim is concluded. If the old solicitor insists on getting all his costs paid before handing over the file then you will have a BIG PROBLEM. However, many solicitors will agree to hand over the file on receipt of an undertaking by the new solicitor to pay the costs of the old solicitor at the conclusion of the claim. The new solicitor will then pay the outlays incurred by the old solicitor and the file will be handed over. Make sure your solicitor will follow this protocol. This will save you a lot of hassle if you decide to change solicitors and will ensure the smooth handover of your file without delaying the processing of your claim.
So why not get a no obligation fixed fee quote now. You could save a lot of money. If you have questions, why not call or email us now without obligation and we will be happy to answer your queries without charge.
No solicitor/client relationship or duty of care or liability of any nature shall exist or be deemed to exist between O’Shea Legal and you until you have received confirmation in writing from us in which we confirm our appointment as your Solicitors.
*In contentious business a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.
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To Eoin, Thanks for everything: for a smooth, efficient and painless process! All the best.
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