Compensation Solicitors Guide
Here is our in-depth guide to compensation solicitors. To begin, let’s check over what to look for in a compensation solicitor.
- 1 What to Look for in a Compensation Solicitor
- 2 Types of Compensation Claims
- 2.1 Tenancy Deposit Claims
- 2.2 Road Traffic Accident Claims
- 2.3 Accident at Work Claims
- 2.4 Personal Injury Claims
- 2.5 Housing Disrepair Claims
- 2.6 Japanese Knotweed Claims
- 2.7 Data Breach Claims
- 2.8 Mis-Sold Mortgages Claims
- 2.9 Mis-Sold Investment Claims
- 2.10 Mis-Sold SIPP Claims
- 2.11 Mis-Sold Pension Claims
- 3 FAQ
What to Look for in a Compensation Solicitor
1. Specialist Solicitor
While you can instruct any solicitor to enforce your rights, a specialist solicitor will offer the best service. Consider this; the law governing the different types of compensation claims tend to be complex and unique to each type of claim, requiring years of practice to master. Moreover, when you instruct a solicitor, you are primarily seeking their skills and experience to enforce your rights.
As such, the services and expertise of a specialist solicitor, who is not only knowledgeable in the type of compensation claim you want to make but also experienced in that particular field will likely yield better results. After all, you do not want to regret having missed an opportunity to maximise the positive outcomes from your claim.
2. Personal and Professional Care
When dealing with any compensation claim, consider hiring a firm that will offer personal and professional services. While many people assume a more prominent firm will automatically result in high-quality services and a better outcome, this is not always the case.
A big firm might have many compensation claims solicitors, only to be swamped with a lot of clients based on their prominent reputation. Inadvertently, they end up with many cases to handle, making it impossible to render personalised legal services. Sometimes a smaller law firm will suffice and yield better results for you.
You should receive a high standard of attention, care, and professionalism. As such, prioritise the quality of services a firm renders rather than how big the firm is.
3. Do the Authorities Regulate the Firm?
When dealing with a compensation claim, do not use claims management companies as they are not registered entities with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the regularity body for all solicitors and law firms in England. Additionally, claims management bodies act as middlemen and tend to employ sale people rather than qualified solicitors who sell your claim case to the highest bidder, rather than the best law firm for your particular case.
As such, ensure the solicitors and legal firms you hire lists their SRA number on their website or ask for it.
4. Qualification, Accreditation, and Membership to Professional Bodies
The kind of accreditation a law firm has is a good indicator of the quality of legal services the firm renders. Law firms with no awards and or accreditation are most likely to provide poor quality services that do not meet the minimum standards to receive the certification. Conversely, an accredited firm works to design the procedures and services to meet the needs of their clients, and in turn, meet the minimum requirements to get approved.
For instance, in the case of personal injury solicitors, you ought to ensure the firm has a Personal Injury Accreditation given by the Law Society of England and Wales. Additionally, ensure the solicitor is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.
5. History and Experience
Any solicitor or law firm can claim to be the best in their field. However, very few can back their claim with facts. As such, ensure the firm has the experience and history of handling compensation claims cases, with a high win percentage.
It’s advisable to read reviews left by previous clients to examine their experience with the law firm. Moreover, ask for information on the steps the firm or solicitor take to keep abreast with the latest changes in the laws and policies governing compensation claim in your area of interest.
6. Efficient and Effective Communications
The process of lodging a claim to receiving the compensation you are seeking is long and arduous. It takes time for your case to run its course to finality. Throughout the process, you will be communicating with your law firm and solicitor.
However, many solicitors and law firms are not sufficient and efficient at communicating with their clients. They do not call back when they say will, and in some cases, they do not receive calls when called. Such poor communication might breed distrust on the part of the client, which is the last thing you want to experience.
Always ensure the law firm or solicitor you choose is good at communicating with their clients.
7. Favourable Fees and Fee Structure
The best payment structure is usually a ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreement. Under this agreement, some of the legal cost you incur are covered by the other side. Additionally, your solicitor deducts a small percentage of the compensation (not exceeding 25%) to include the success fees. With such a payment structure, you do not have to worry about the cost incurred in the legal process.
Types of Compensation Claims
Tenancy Deposit Claims
It is standard for landlords to require new tenants to pay a tenancy deposit to secure their tenancy in the property. However, the law requires that they pay the deposit they receive from their tenants to one of three tenancy deposit protection schemes, including:
- Deposit Protection Service
- My Deposits
- Tenancy Deposit Scheme
Under the Housing Act 2004, laws were set up and established to protect the tenant’s deposit monies from being utilised elsewhere, making it difficult and or impossible for tenants to recover their money at the end of their tenancy. By depositing the funds in one of the three government-backed tenancy deposit protection schemes assures tenants they can access their money when their lease comes to an end.
Landlords who let their properties on assured shorthold tenancy are required to put the deposit with one of the schemes within 30 days of receiving the money, failure to which you can make an application to the court seeking:
- That your deposit be returned or protected, and or,
- You receive compensation that can range from 1 to 3 times your deposit.
You are eligible to file a Tenancy Deposit Claim if your deposit has not been secured and you paid your landlord a deposit on or after 6th April 2007. And or if you did not receive a certificate to notify you that your deposit has been secured.
Road Traffic Accident Claims
Road traffic accident claims are claims for compensation resulting from personal injury and loss of property after the claimant is involved in a road accident. Road traffic accidents claims are designed to protect drivers, passengers, pedestrians, scooter, bikers, and cyclists. You can make claims on a range of injuries that include:
- Seat belt injuries
- Whiplash injuries
- Airbag injuries
- Child restraints injuries
- Head and brain injuries
Right after the accident, you should seek medical attention, ensuring you get a diagnosis for all the injuries. Get the details of your injury, including the cost of the medical assistance. After that, you can lodge your claim or, better yet, you can hire a solicitor to help you through the process.
While some might consider personal injury claims as just a money-grabbing scheme, the truth of the matter is, the applications are well-intended. They are meant to help the claimant overcome the negative effects of the injuries as fast as possible. The adverse impact of a traffic accident can last a long time; the claim you make can help you recover from the injuries without going through the NHS waiting list.
The claim also provides you with the financial assistance you need to offset the financial loss occasioned by the loss of income and rising medical bills. Importantly, making a claim is part and parcel of receiving the justice you deserve. After all, you did not ask to be injured. Often, negligence and recklessness, which the defendant should pay.
Accident at Work Claims
Laws govern the safety and quality of your workplace environment. Many companies tend to ignore the rules and regulations, as a cost-saving measure, resulting in an unsafe working environment. Workplace accident claims are claims made for damages caused by accidents that take place at work.
Examples of common workplace accidents are falls from a height, manual handling injuries, slips, trips or fall accidents, forklift truck accidents, ineffective equipment accidents, falling object accidents, repetitive motion, among others.
While the type, severity, and the effects of the workplace injury will influence the compensation you get, your accident at work claims solicitor should work to ensure you get a fair settlement that can cover:
- Lost earning and time off work
- Any future losses in earnings
- Psychological trauma
- The negative impact on your ability to work
- Changes to your car and or home that might need
- Care you need owing to the accident
A company must undertake a risk assessment, provide proper safety training, provide and install safe working systems, provide suitable protective equipment, and take steps to minimise risks. Any company that does not provide a safe working environment is liable for workplace accident claims.
Personal Injury Claims
A personal injury claim is a legal case whereby you seek compensation after an injury-causing accident caused by the defendant’s negligence. In most cases, personal injury claims are settled by the defendant’s insurance provider.
You are eligible to make a personal injury claim, if:
- The injury happened within the last three years,
- The injury caused physical and financial suffering,
- The damage was caused in part or whole by somebody else.
The compensation you receive depends on the type of damages you seek in your injury claim. For general damages compensation, you claim compensation for the pain and suffering you have endured and their impact on your life. The other type of claim you can make is the special damages claim, whereby you seek compensation for any financial loses you incur directly as a result of the accident.
As is the case with other injury-based claims, the amount of compensation you receive is dependent on the severity of the injuries, and the effects the injuries have on your life.
Housing Disrepair Claims
Under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act (LTA) 1985, the landlord is required by law to keep the house in a good state of repair regardless of whether you are a shorthold or secure tenant. To this end, the landlord is obliged to:
- Keep in working order and repair the structure and the exterior of the building, including external pipes, gutters, and drains
- Keep in working order and repair all the installations including gas, water, electricity, and fixtures meant for sanitary use, including sinks, baths, basins, and sanitary conveniences
- Keep in working order and repair water and space heating
- Ensure the house is free of dump and mould
- Ensure the house is free of insect infestation
In case your landlord contravenes these laws resulting in damage to your and or injury, you have the legal right to lodge a housing disrepair claim against your landlord. Some of the common effects of disrepair include damage to belongings, personal injuries, and inconveniences resulting from the disrepair.
The amount of compensation you receive depends on the severity of the disrepair, amount of time you have endured the state of disrepair, and the effects of the disrepair to you and other occupants of the house. You can make a claim for the value of the damage, ill health resulting from the disrepair, and the inconvenienced caused by the disrepair.
Japanese Knotweed Claims
The Japanese knotweed is a fast-growing invasive weed that can cause severe physical and monetary/value damage to a house. The red-stemmed plant can grow anywhere, reaching a height of 4 meters with the fibrous rhizome root system spreading an astonishing 7 meters from the plant. The ornamental plant was introduced to Britain in the 19th century and has been left to grow in the wild.
The plant’s strong and extensive roots are known to cause extensive damage to structures, including concrete structures. Once the plant grows in your property, it is difficult to remove.
With this in mind, if your neighbour has the Japanese Knotweed and the plant spreads into your property, you have the right to claim compensation for the damage caused and the loss in value your property suffers. A Japanese knotweed claim helps claimants:
- Remove the invasive weed from their properties
- Repair any damage caused on the property
- Recover the loss in market value.
It is important to note that many mortgage lenders refuse to lend money for property affected by Japanese knotweed. Others make its removal a requirement for lending. As such, the Japanese knotweed claim can come handy in protecting your financial interest.
Data Breach Claims
With the enactment of the Data Protection Act 2018, UK’s interpretation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), organisations that collect personal data has the responsibility of seeking consent to collect the data. After that, they must take appropriate measures to protect the data. Importantly, aside from following the GDPR rules and regulations, companies that receive your data must adhere to the Data Protection Act, The Computer Misuse Act, the Malicious Communication Act, and the Copyright, Design and Patent Act.
When an organisation fails to protect your data and suffers a data breach leading to a financial loss or distress, you have the right to claim compensation for the adverse effects suffered. Data breaches come in many forms, such as:
- When a company discloses your data to an unauthorised party or in an unauthorised manner
- When a company accesses your personal data without your consent
- When the data is destroyed in an unauthorised manner, among other ways
Among the sensitive data that organisations must protect include:
- Medical documents
- Social services documents
- Personal health information
- Sensitive, confidential, and protected data
- Financial information
Claimants have up to six years to lodge a claim for compensation for a data breach. Owing to the complexity of data breach claims, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced data breach solicitor.
Mis-Sold Mortgages Claims
Mis-sold mortgage claims are claims made for compensation for breaches that a lender or financial adviser make while selling a mortgage, causing you to purchase a financial product that is unsuitable for you. There are a wide variety of breaches that can lead to a mis-sold mortgage claim.
In all instances, the lender and or the adviser do not treat the borrower fairly as is required by the Mortgage Conduct of Business and the Financial Ombudsman Service.
The Financial Conduct Authority stipulates that any financial advice given to the customers must help the customer understand the benefits, the risks, the features, and the cost of any financial product they intend to purchase.
As such, some of the common reason to make a mis-sold mortgage claim include:
- Paying the broker fees as part of your interests
- You were sold interest-only mortgage with no clear understanding or plan on how to pay the capital
- Some cases of self-certify mortgages
- Advice to inappropriately use of a mortgage for capital raising purposes
- Mortgage extension with unsuitable terms
- Advice on remortgaging to clear debt or for debt consolidation, among other instances.
Mis-Sold Investment Claims
Mis-selling investment claim is a claim made against a financial adviser for giving unsuitable investment advice, whereby the risks are not fully explained, causing you to make inappropriate investments.
Examples of cases of mis-sold financial investment include:
- Not being told about the risks involved in the venture
- You experienced hard sale tactics, or you were pressured into making an investment that you did not want or need
- Not being told how the investment works and, importantly, how your money will be invested
- Being advised to make a particular investment, even though it does not suit your attitude towards risk or needs as you had discussed with the financial adviser
- You were not told about additional fees or charges stemming from the advice.
In a nutshell, you can mis-sold investment claim compensation if you were sold on an investment whereby the investment advice the bank or financial adviser gave you was not clear, fair, and or misleading.
Mis-Sold SIPP Claims
The mis-sold SIPP claims are claims advice given on the management of self-invested personal pension (SIPP) or its mismanagement by financial management services providers. SIPP was approved by the UK government to allow individuals with experience in investment the freedom to make riskier investments to increase their pension growth opportunities. However, owing to the risks, SIPP is not for everyone.
As such, there are numerous cases of mis-selling SIPP, including:
- Your adviser recommending the transfer of your pension into a SIPP by stating that it is better than traditional person pensions without being telling you the risks
- An adviser recommending SIPP without recommending a particular investment
- Your adviser recommending SIPP for tax purposes rather than for the sole benefit of pension
- An adviser providing inadequate and unclear advice
- Your adviser not disclosing the fees will incur under a SIPP scheme
Mis-Sold Pension Claims
Mis-selling pension involves a financial adviser selling a pension product while disclosing inadequate information regarding the risks of the products, the fees due, and the features of the product. Mis-sold pension claims are on the rise with many banks and Independent Financial Advisers breaching the regulations set up by the Financial Conduct Authority.
As such, you might have a case, if you feel that:
- You were to not given all the information necessary to make an appropriate decision
- The bank or advisor did not take into account your current health and your needs
- You were advised to transfer your pension into SIPP without being told to invest in a particular investment scheme or product
- You were not given adequate options to choose a deal that best suits you and your needs, and much more
What Are Compensation Solicitors?
Compensation solicitors are solicitors who specialise and focus on providing legal services pertaining to compensation claims you make. Compensation solicitors seek to enforce your right to lawful, fair, and reasonable compensation to any injury or loss you incur caused by the defendant actions, inactions, negligence, and any other cause. There are different specialisation within the field of compensation claims, including:
- Vehicular and traffic accident claim solicitors
- Personal injury solicitors
- Tenancy deposit solicitors
- Data breach solicitors
- Work injury solicitors
- Housing disrepair solicitors
- Japanese knotweed solicitors
- Mis-sold investment solicitors
- Mis-sold pension solicitors
- Mis-sold SIPP solicitors
- Mis-sold mortgages solicitors
How Much Do Solicitors Take from Compensation?
Typically, solicitors charge 25% of the compensation as the success fee. The success fee came about in 2000 after the abolishment of Legal Aid and the introduction of No Win, No Fee payment structure. The success fee allows solicitors to take additional revenue when they succeed in getting a claim.
Up until the enactment of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) in 2013, the burden of paying the success fee fell on the defendant. These reforms shifted the burden of paying the success fees to the claimant, hence why most solicitors charge a 25% success fee on the compensation a complainant receives.
It is also important to note that the success fee is capped at 25% as this is the maximum fee the Ministry of Justice allows solicitors to charge. However, the defendant bears the cost of additional costs, such as the cost of bringing in expert witnesses.
There are cases where solicitors can charge a fixed rate of £500 under the fixed-rate regime, where the claims range from £1,000 to £25,000. However, since most case claims exceed this fixed amount, solicitors tend to opt for the No Win, No Pay payment structure.
How Long Does It Take to Receive an Offer of Compensation?
After you have lodged a claim with all the necessary documentation, you will have to wait from 14 days to 30 days to receive an offer of compensation. However, if you feel the compensation offer presented, typically by an insurance company is not sufficient, you can reject the offer, and submit a demand for compensation and you have to wait a little longer for settlement of your claim.
How Is Compensation Calculated?
Compensation calculation is dependent on several factors, including:
- The type of claim you are making (whether a Public Liability claim, a road accident claim, an Employer’s Liability claim, etc.)
- Whether you are making general or special damages compensation. In the case of multiple general damages claims, the reward increases accordingly
- If you signed a No Win, No Fees agreement, 10% is added to the settlement to offset the success fee deduction
For a better understanding of the potential compensation you can claim, consult an experienced compensation solicitor.