In the aftermath of an accident or episode of medical negligence, claimants need prompt and easy access to professional advice but also reassurance concerning the likely cost of bringing a claim. An Internet search will often flag up national claims management companies boasting that they operate on a no win, no fee basis, which is understandably appealing. Despite appearances, the large companies are not offering better funding arrangements than we do as a firm of solicitors.
We too run the vast majority of cases on a no win no fee basis, by entering a Conditional Fee Agreement (‘CFA’) with the client when we assess a claimant as having reasonable prospects of succeeding with their claim.
We as solicitors are equally able to offer direct, free and prompt access to initial advice regarding a prospective claim. We can conduct that over the telephone or, where appropriate, during a home or hospital visit. Unlike some claims management companies, the initial discussion will always be with a qualified lawyer with expertise in personal injury and clinical negligence claims. Funding options tailored to the individual client will be discussed during that initial contact, with opportunities to ask further questions by phone or e-mail before signing up to anything. A CFA combined with after the event insurance (to cover medical expert fees and court fees, for example) provides complete security to the Claimant in the event that their claim is unsuccessful. With these funding arrangements in place, there is nothing at all for the client to pay throughout the duration of the claim process. You will usually meet the lawyer who will represent you from the outset, providing consistent and direct service, whereas the call-handlers at larger companies will filter your enquiry to their panel of solicitors who could be located anywhere in the country.
Legal aid reform means that it is now only available in very specific circumstances, for example in relation to serious birth-related injuries; irrespective of who a claimant instructs the strict eligibility criteria apply.
There is no financial advantage to a claimant in instructing a claims management company to run their claim. We operate on the same ‘no risk’ basis but with the added benefit of local and personalised service, enabling our clients to focus on their recovery.