Share this story
Many personal injury sufferers are understandably concerned about the potential cost of legal fees in the event of an accident, but many of these issues can be solved by the provision of properly delivered ‘no win no fee’ legal assistance. National Accident Helpline’s (NAH) recent report, The Real Cost of Personal Injury, revealed that the primary concern for over a third (37%) of personal injury victims when considering making a claim was the financial costs involved.
It is no surprise that the issue of cost is such a concern for injury sufferers. Following an accident, people feel vulnerable and the fear of having to pay the costs for a lost case feels like an extra burden to carry. Whilst most people are familiar with the concept of the ‘no win no fee’ solicitor, many don’t actually understand what this means in reality. Rather than seeing it as an affordable route to the compensation they deserve, they fear it will leave them worse off than they were before the accident.
This misconception is not helped by the bad practice of a small group of solicitors who make genuine claimants pay fees, even if they don’t win the case, which was highlighted in a report by the Legal Ombudsman. Consumers also have fears about rogue claims management companies who may charge upfront payments, overcharge them for the work undertaken or expose them to risk of payments if the case is lost.
‘No win no fee’ provides injured people with an accessible means of bringing genuine claims with reasonable prospects. ‘No win no fee’ should guarantee that if your case were to fail, you wouldn’t have to pay any fees to anyone including your own solicitor or the other side. When an individual’s case is successful, injury lawyers usually recover most of their legal fees from the other side’s insurance company and in some cases a modest deduction from compensation awarded is also required. The changes which came as part of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) last year have meant that legal aid is no longer available for victims of accidents or medical negligence. This means that for a large proportion of the population, ‘no win no fee’ is the only viable route for making a claim after suffering personal injury or medical negligence.
The widespread misconception about the perceived prohibitive cost of legal fees is something which needs to change. People with genuine claims who need compensation to restore their lives and recover from their injury are put off seeking the justice they deserve. They should not be put off by fear of cost or the stigma arising from the mythology surrounding the so-called compensation culture. At NAH, we work with our solicitor firms to provide a guaranteed ‘no win no fee’ service and ensure that claimants face no risk of paying the other side’s costs or having to make payments up front or during their claim. We audit and closely monitor our solicitor firms to ensure that they guarantee a ‘no win no fee’ service and believe that a properly delivered ‘no win no fee’ system has a vital and valuable role in ensuring access to justice is preserved.
It is crucial that confusion over costs and misuse of the term by unethical companies does not undermine consumers’ confidence to make a genuine claim. It is also critical that the term ‘no win no fee’ is properly defined by regulators so that injured people are not placed at risk of paying fees if cases are lost or are asked to fund significant costs during their claim. This needs to happen to preserve consumer confidence in a system that works incredibly well when properly delivered and badly where the malpractice identified by the Legal Ombudsman is allowed to continue.
More from this category
Jonathan White, National Accident Helpline's Legal Director, explains why the Ethical Marketing Charter was established and outlines its goals.Read more
Over the last decade there has been a significant spike in the numbers of women taking legal action.Read more
Jonathan gives his top tips on the application process, common mistakes and how to avoid winding up your colleagues!Read more
The state of the UK’s roads is a major bugbear for the majority of drivers, especially when it comes to the ever-growing issue of potholes.Read more
What have Barack Obama, Derren Brown, Gandhi, Jerry Springer, John Cleese, Gerard Butler, Nelson Mandela, Henri Matisse, Margaret Thatcher, Franz Kafka, Sandy Toksvig, and Gaby Logan got in common?Read more