Why are personal injury under-settlement claims rising?
Been Let Down’s Professional Negligence team examine the rise of personal injury under-settlement claims and detail how to fight back against under-settled claims.
The rise of personal injury under-settlement claims
A solicitor acting on your behalf is under a duty of care to get you the best possible outcome for your case. Sometimes, the level of professionalism that you receive from a lawyer falls below what is reasonably expected.
At Been Let Down, we are seeing more claims against solicitors arising from personal injury claims. This has been fuelled by legal firms who have delegated personal injury claims to junior fee earners, which has resulted in a number of our clients reporting dissatisfaction with their compensation payouts.
From missed deadlines to loss of chance and evidential issues – there are many reasons why you may receive personal injury compensation payouts that are lower than you would expect. If you feel as though you have not been compensated fairly or the personal injury claim settlement process was not properly followed, you may have fallen victim to under-settlement.
What are under-settlement claims?
Put simply, under-settled cases or claims happen when your solicitor accepts a low settlement. Whether this is due to inexperience or simply wanting to resolve the case as quickly as possible, under-settlements should be taken seriously.
As a claimant, you may also feel under a lot of pressure to accept the claim at the time, even if you are not happy with the outcome.
Examples of under settled claims include instances where:
- Your claim is settled for less than you were expecting
- You were pressured into accepting a lower settlement
- Your claim was not properly investigated or valued
- Your compensation was incorrectly calculated
- The claim was settled without medical evidence, or the medical evidence was incomplete or incorrect
- The solicitor or barrister failed to properly prepare your case, meaning that important facts or evidence were missed
Why do under-settled personal injury claims happen?
Under-settlement cases are normally caused by professional negligence on behalf of an inexperienced lawyer. Although you hire a solicitor to act as a professional expert, unfortunately many firms try to cut costs by using unqualified juniors, paralegals or claims handlers to manage cases.
Although many of these professionals will do a good job, some fail to consider all the possible damages or forgo personal injury settlement negotiations.
You may also find that the law firm you have trusted to win you fair compensation has rushed your claim, trying to get the case settled as quickly as possible. This is especially prevalent if firms operate on a fixed-cost basis. When this price structure is put in place, it encourages solicitors to settle cases as quickly as possible, rather than sticking it out for a longer period to obtain for you the personal injury compensation payout that you deserve.
By going for speed over substance, compensation tends to be lower than the average personal injury claim settlement for your injury.
Why are cases under-settled?
The top reasons why a personal injury claim is under settled include:
- Failure to listen to the client’s injuries properly
In many “claims factories”, paralegals dealing with hundreds of claims do not have the time to listen carefully to the details of each personal injury. This means that the true extent of your injuries remains unknown.
By failing to understand the extent of your injuries, you run the risk of under-settlements.
- Inadequate analysis of the medical evidence
Where medical evidence is complex or where pre-existing medical conditions are at play, some inexperienced personal injury lawyers will go to a GP for advice. However, GPs by their very nature are general practitioners. In a personal injury claim, lawyers should seek advice from specialists to learn about the nuances of your injury. If not, you could miss valuable compensation if certain aspects of your injury are overlooked or deemed less serious.
There is also the possibility that your solicitor failed to ask the right questions when analysing the medical reports. By failing to understand the full extent of the injuries, you may not receive adequate settlements.
- Improper calculation of financial losses
Many personal injury claims involve quantifying damages. This is normally straightforward and looks at:
- Financial losses
- Assistance of the claimant
However, this can be more difficult if the client’s earnings are complicated, or their future earnings or career progression have not been properly analysed.
- Failure to instruct a barrister
In complex cases, it is best practice to seek the advice of a barrister. If barristers have reviewed the claim, it is much more likely to be watertight in court. If your solicitor has missed out this step, under-settlements can occur.
- Inadequate assessment of liability
A successful claim needs to properly apportion liability. If inexperienced lawyers accept a reduction of compensation for contributory negligence (i.e. accepting that the accident was partly a client’s fault) when that does not reflect the reality of the situation, this is an under-settlement.
- Missed deadlines or failure to comply with court orders
In rare cases, underqualified or overworked lawyers can miss court deadlines. In worst-case scenarios, the claim can be struck out of court. This failure to follow the personal injury claim settlement process can give rise to professional negligence claims.
How to fight back against under-settled claims
If you believe that the service you received and your settlement falls below what would be reasonably expected from a legal professional, you may be able to make a professional negligence claim.
How to make a claim against your personal injury solicitor?
The first step is to seek reputable legal advice from a SRA-approved firm. Once you have done this, your new solicitor will contact your original claims handler. They may accept responsibility and offer a settlement. If they do not, the next step is to make a claim for professional negligence.
What is the time limit to sue your solicitor?
Under UK law, you have six years from the date of negligence to sue your solicitor. However, as it can be difficult to decipher the date of negligence, it is important you seek legal advice as soon as practically possible.
How to fund a claim against a solicitor?
These days, most professional negligence claims are carried out under a No Win No Fee agreement. This means that you can pursue a claim with no financial risk to yourself. With a No Win No Fee agreement, you will not have to pay any legal fees if your case is unsuccessful. If you win your case, you will be charged a pre-agreed fee from the final settlement.
Get advice about your under-settled personal injury claim from the experts
In a world where under-settlement cases are rising exponentially, it is important that you receive the personal injury compensation payout that you deserve.
Whether you firmly believe that, your solicitor was at fault or you are on the fence, our experienced, trusted professional negligence team are on hand to help.
Trying to right the wrongs of other professionals, we pride ourselves on uncomplicated, specialist legal advice that you can trust. We will guide you through the personal injury claims settlement process, meaning that you can focus on getting your life back on track.
To take the first step towards getting what you are rightfully owed, speak to us today. We will listen fully to your concerns and help you understand whether you have grounds for a claim.
Been Let Down is here to help.
If you believe that the service you received and your payout is insufficient to what would be reasonably expected from a legal professional, get in contact with our team of specialist professional negligence solicitors. We are here to listen to you and provide you with the care and advice you need.