Changes in personal injury law.
The personal injury sector has changed dramatically since the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 and this has the potential to have a negative impact on Claimants.
The traditional ‘No Win No Fee’ agreement commonly used by law firms and ever attractive to clients could become a thing of the past. Prior to April 2013, law firms were able to claim back all their costs from the Defendant, including the insurance premium and a success fee. Following the Act, firms will have to recover their costs from the client’s compensation, including all necessary disbursements such as court fees, expert fees and barrister fees, the insurance premium and the success fee.
Solicitors are in fact also allowed to claim up to 25% of the compensation amount awarded to successful Claimants. The law has attempted to compensate for this by increasing the amounts awarded to Claimants by 10% but the change will obviously have a significant impact on levels of compensation and people may not receive what they are entitled to.
Another key change that is proposed is to increase the value of small personal injury claims from the current limit of £1,000 to £5,000. This means that the claim must be worth in excess of £5,000 for legal fees to be able to be reclaimed from the losing party. It would not therefore be financially viable for firms to run cases under this limit, without taking a significant proportion of the client’s compensation. This could mean that clients may have to represent themselves and deal with their own cases as ‘litigants in person’ which would again impact on levels of compensation achieved. It is extremely difficult for clients to value their injuries properly. They may not have access to the appropriate guidelines and may be pressured into settling at an early stage and for low value by a larger defendant firm.
The proposed system being introduced for employers and public liability cases could also impact on the quality of cases handled by solicitors. A fixed costs regime has been suggested. This would mean that in order to earn significant costs, lawyers will have to deal with cases more efficiently and quickly, focussing more on quantity of cases dealt with rather than quality.
The best option for clients considering making a claim at the moment is to get professional advice from solicitors to assess whether they should pursue their case.
At Dellapina Law Solicitors, our experienced solicitors always act in our clients’ best interests, whether they have suffered an injury at work, slip or trip, road traffic accident or been a victim of clinical negligence. In this time of great uncertainty in the personal injury sector, clients can rely on us to provide an honest and reliable service and ensure that they receive the maximum compensation that they are entitled to. Call us now on 01565 634 100 for a free initial consultation.