If you have been injured as a result of an accident, you should get advice about whether you can claim compensation for the losses you have suffered.
The law relating to accidents – whether at work, on the roads, or elsewhere – can be complex. This is highlighted by the fact that the Law Society of Scotland has a specific accredited specialism for Personal Injury Law. Solicitors who have experience and have demonstrated expertise in this area of law can apply for certification of their specialist knowledge. They have to meet ongoing training standards and apply for re-accreditation every few years.
You need to get help from a solicitor who has proven specialist knowledge in handling personal injury claims.
It is also important that the solicitor should be as local to you as possible.
The benefits of local
“I especially liked the fact that I was able to deal with a local solicitor.”
In the retail sector, initiatives such as Elgin Business Improvement District, encourage consumers to “think local”.
The strongest argument for this approach is that it supports and enhances the local economy.
In the USA, studies have shown that every dollar spent with an independent local business generates at least twice as much wealth for the community as a dollar spent elsewhere. In the UK, a survey of spending by local authorities showed that, for every £1 spent with a larger business, only 40p stayed in the local economy, compared to 63p with small and medium sized businesses.
Local is relative
If you are looking for a general product or service, there is a good chance you will find it close to where you live. The more specific or unusual your need becomes, however, the harder it will be to satisfy locally.
Your “local shop” for an unconventional product or service might be over a hundred miles away.
Looking at personal injury law, in the broadest sense, “local” refers to the country in question.
The law is different as between England and Scotland so, where you’ve been injured in Scotland, you need a solicitor in Scotland.
As local as possible
“I would rather speak to somebody face-to-face and get to know somebody – put a name to the face – and know who that person is.”
Once you have a particular product or service provider in mind, a helpful approach can be to double-check whether there is an equally good alternative closer to home.
Having a solicitor handle your personal injury claim whose office is close to you has several benefits over a solicitor who is not local:
- They will be familiar with the place your accident happened, which will make it easier and faster for them to understand and investigate the circumstances.
- They will be accustomed to running court actions in the local Sheriff Court – “local knowledge” of a Sheriff Court being something which is tactically useful.
- You can easily meet your solicitor face-to-face rather than relying on letters, emails and telephone calls.
- It is easier to meet up with them at short notice, if necessary.
- In an emergency, you can go straight to their office and speak to them.
So what does “local” mean?
Based on the economic arguments above, ideally, the business you choose should be locally owned.
The owners should have full independence to make decisions about their business (i.e. not part of a franchise).
Where the people who have the biggest stake in the success of the business live locally, there is more chance they will be active in the community and thereby keeping any profits circulating locally too.
“I have found it very helpful at times just nipping into the office and get a chat with you for a few minutes and that has eased my mind a lot on a lot of different occasions.”
There is an increasing tendency for national law firms to offer pop-up advice clinics in towns and districts where they do not have a permanent office.
Typically, these are offered fortnightly or monthly in office or studio space rented specifically for the purpose. They concentrate on areas of law such as Employment and Personal Injury. In the eyes of these national firms, this activity allows them to bill themselves as being a “local” solicitor.
But, assuming you engage one of these parachuted-in solicitors, how local are they going to feel to you when, in an urgent situation, you might have to travel 50 miles to meet with them in their proper office?
Financial benefits (to you) of local
You might be worried that “specialist lawyer” equates with “expensive lawyer”.
In relation to personal injury claims in Scotland, the availability of “no win – no fee” means that there should be no financial risk to you if the claim is unsuccessful.
The problem is that personal injury solicitors’ marketing rarely refers to the potential cost to you, if your claim succeeds. With some firms, you will keep all of your compensation but it is common to find arrangements whereby you have to lose 20% of your money (in “costs”) if you win.
Having lower case management costs is one of the benefits to solicitors in running claims where the client and / or the accident is local to them. A truly local solicitor will seek to pass this benefit on to you by allowing you to keep all of your compensation, without deduction.
Although this issue of “hidden cost” only arises at the end of a successful personal injury claim, it is something you need to have in mind at the start of the claim, so you can make a proper comparison of the arrangements on offer from various solicitors.
Not only should engaging the services of a specialist personal injury solicitor not involve an expensive charge, it should involve no charge to you, win or lose your claim.
We have discussed why a specialist local solicitor is best to handle your personal injury claim, whether that’s in Moray or elsewhere.
- As a starting point, you need a personal injury solicitor with proven specialist knowledge.
- Once that requirement is satisfied, engaging a local solicitor from a local firm can have economic benefits for your community.
- A local personal injury solicitor has benefits to you in terms of: “local knowledge” of the accident location and relevant court; and, above all, convenient accessibility when you need them.
- Consider whether a solicitor who first meets you locally but does not have a permanent office in your area is truly a local solicitor
- A further benefit of a local solicitor is that they can pass on to you their cost-savings in dealing with a local client / accident, maximising the chances that there will be no “hidden cost” deduction from your compensation at the end of your claim.
- One good way to identify a local, specialist personal injury solicitor to help you in Scotland is by using the Law Society of Scotland’s “Find a Solicitor” tool.
How we can help
If you have any questions about any matters raised in this article, please get in touch with us. All enquiries are free of charge and without obligation.
In the video below, Peter Brash goes over some of the issues discussed in this article – in particular, the benefits of getting advice from a local, specialist solicitor as soon as possible. That solicitor may not be the best person to help you directly but will be able to make sure you find the best-matched solicitor for your circumstances.