John Whitcroft Solicitor - Motor and Car Accidents

Must I use the panel solicitor my insurance company tells me to use?

The answer is NO! 

Many firms of solicitors buy their work either from insurance companies or claims management companies.  If your insurers insist that you use one of their panel solicitors the odds are that the panel solicitor will have paid a referral fee to obtain your claim.  Often it is a substantial sum of money.  Although you may be told that the services of the panel solicitors are free or paid for by your insurers, this is not entirely true in that the panel solicitors will be expected to obtain their fees from the Defendant.  They are not, however, entitled to recover the referral fee from the Defendant.  The referral fee must therefore come from their own fees.  The amount of fees recoverable from a Defendant will be limited.  In road traffic car accident cases where the claim is settled for under £10,000 without issue of proceedings the amount of fees is fixed according to a scale fee.  If the panel solicitor has to pay a referral fee, often as much as £650 to obtain the case, this leaves the panel solicitors with a very tight budget which in turn dictates the level of service they can offer to a Client.  Panel solicitors are often based in an entirely different part of the country and usually they never meet their Clients.  Most of the work will be carried out by paralegals, not solicitors.  Communication will often be based on standard questionnaire type forms.

Many of my clients have come to me frustrated by their experiences elsewhere.  I find it is important to obtain a first hand account from each Client of the circumstances of the car accident.  This can be particularly important where the Defendant denies liability.  How the claim is presented can make the difference between obtaining compensation and obtaining nothing at all.  I find that it is also important to meet with each Client in order to appreciate the full extent of their injuries and losses.  Often a Client is unaware of the full extent of their injuries, particularly where there may also be some psychological injury.  I therefore believe in meeting all of my Clients, finding out from them exactly what has happened and the full extent of their injuries and losses.  In some instances for example a Client may be unaware that they have suffered post-traumatic stress from their car accident.  This can present itself in the form of anxiety, mood changes, flashbacks and/or nightmares.  Sometimes it is their partners or close relatives who are more aware of these changes. Clients may also be unaware of the full extent of their financial losses and what exactly they may claim for.

Where a Client has existing legal expense insurance I am happy to work for the Client under their existing policy where insurers are agreeable.  Where insurers are not agreeable, I am also willing to act for you under a no win/no fee agreement.  Either way I can act for you. 

The outcome of your claim depends upon the experience and the quality of the person handling your claim.  This is true no matter what the size of the organisation whom you approach.  It can make a very big difference to the outcome of your claim whether a paralegal or an experienced solicitor handles your claim.  The choice is yours.

To view comments from some of my past Clients please go to Testimonials.

What happens if the driver who runs into me has no insurance and is therefore uninsured?  Have I any claim?

It is always sad to hear of someone who failed to bring their claim within the required period as they believed they had no claim because the other driver had no insurance.  The good news is that you can still bring a claim even though the other driver had no insurance.  You will able to bring your claim against the Motor Insurer’s Bureau (MIB).  You will also be able to recover your legal costs from the MIB.

What happens in a hit and run case or where the other driver drives off sometimes unaware that he/she has actually caused a car accident?

You will still have a claim against the Motor Insurer’s Bureau under their Untraced Drivers Scheme although the amount of legal costs which you can recover is restricted. 

What should I do if the other driver’s insurers contact me and make me an offer?

This is happening increasingly where the opposing insurers contact an insured victim early on encouraging them to settle early and not seek independent legal advice.  The danger is that if you settle too early the full extent of your injuries may not be known.  You may accept £1,000 or £1,500 now but your injuries could be worth considerably more.  There are also headings of claim of which you may be unaware.  Once you have settled your claim it is usually not possible to re-open it.  Your solicitor’s fees will usually be recoverable from the opposing solicitors so that there is no disadvantage to you in seeking independent legal advice from a solicitor.  If you do not obtain advice, you run the risk of settling your claim for too little. 

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