The Law Society for Northern Ireland is throwing its weight behind a campaign to encourage members of the public to put their trust in solicitors when it comes to personal injury claims arising out of road traffic accidents.
The whole area of personal injury and RTA‘s has come into sharper focus over recent years with the rise in popularity of claims management companies, one-stop shops providing courtesy vehicles and claims handling at the same time.Newry solicitor Rory McShane leads the Law Society’s initiative on the personal injury front, and has substantial experience in this type of litigation.
‘There‘s no doubt about the fact that claims management companies can seem like an attractive proposition for members of the public who have been involved in accidents,” he says. “They often provide car replacement up front and then
take on management of the case on behalf of the client.
“But our message as lawyers is that personal injury litigation is often a very complex process,” he explains. “Injuries can sometimes be more serious than they first appear, or in the case of fractures, those injuries can be slow to heal. Then there are personal circumstances of each injured party to take into account.“Each case is different and a lot of cases can be very complicated. And that‘s where the legal expertise of a solicitor comes in.“Our view is that in too many cases the claims management companies will aim for as fast a settlement as possible. They’ll try to avoid getting bogged down in the complexities of any individual scenario. That’s not to say that they won‘t achieve a settlement for the injured party. They will, but it might not be the best that can be achieved. And it’s always worth remembering that once a case has been settled it’s very, very difficult to re-open.”
Rory McShane warns.
Northern Ireland differs from Great Britain on the issue of
claims management companies. On the other side of the Irish Sea, the fast-growing claims management industry is subject to regulation. Here, it isn’t. The result is that it is a bit of a free for all here and we have a scenario where a number of claims management companies are vying directly for business from the general public.” It’s one reason, he maintains. why motor insurance policy costs here in Northern Ireland continue to rise and are well above the policy cost levels in Great Britain. And he’s quick to remind members of the public that, if they are involved in an accident and want to talk about a personal injury claim, they’re entitled to go to any solicitor that they choose. It’s important to note that we have a really high level of fully comprehensive insurance here in Northern Ireland… around 95% of drivers here are comprehensively insured. That‘s much higher than in GB,” he adds. That means that the vast majority of drivers here are well insured and may have the benefit of car hire and repair as of right of their own policy. They probably
won’t need to enter into credit hire agreements as offered by claims management companies. ‘We’re well insured as a general rule….but we don’t always understand what that means. The advantage of going to your own solicitor is that your rights will be fully explained to you by an independent person who has no conflict of interest. All injury cases need to be fully investigated”.
Rory McShane talks about cases where, at first glance, relatively minor injuries appear to have been suffered. But, in time, flashbacks, sleeping disturbance, and other side effects result and the picture is changed. As I‘ve said many times, injury claims are not a box-ticking exercise. Each accident is different, each injury is different and each injured person is different. So a one-to-one relationship between the injured party and his or her solicitor is by far the best way to make sure of the right resolution.”