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These are confusing and difficult times for those who have been affected by serious injury and would like specialist advice and support.

Until April of this year there was a reasonably clear distinction between claims management companies and specialist solicitors. The former advertised for clients wanting to pursue compensation claims (often for minor injuries) and the latter focused on providing advice in more complex and high value cases.

The claims management companies often deployed cartoon figures and a lighthearted approach. They happily gave the impression that moderate sums of money could be obtained quickly and easily from road traffic accidents or tripping cases.  The solicitors who dealt with the catastrophic injury claims, or complex medical negligence cases, rarely advertised in this way and the successful outcomes in their cases were either confined to their own websites, the national press or the official law reporting publications.

The funding changes from April have in many respects turned the personal injury market on its head.

Low value claims are much less profitable and hence much less attractive for claims management companies and for those firms who have tried to process high volumes of cases in a short period.  Whilst many firms have looked to move out of the sector altogether, others have decided to focus upon the complex cases in the hope that these will prove more lucrative for them.

The result is that claims management companies are actively marketing to attract clients who have complex and often difficult cases, e.g. claims for brain injury or delayed diagnosis.  The same firms that were portraying personal injury claims as swift and straightforward are now extolling their virtues at dealing with catastrophic injury claims – where individuals may have suffered life changing injuries which may have a devastating impact upon them and their families.

If the result of these changes is that those suffering loss and damage and seeking redress receive timely, empathetic, professional advice and are able to recover compensation they need, then ultimately the changes may not be a bad thing.  The concern in some parts of the profession is that difficult and high value cases may ultimately be dealt with by inexperienced individuals who lack an understanding of the complex issues.  These individuals could be out of their depth; may fail to spot the key issues in the case or may not recognise the true potential value of a claim.  It would be a tragedy if those who have already suffered terrible injury are then let down by the very people they turn to for help.

At a time when so many organisations are trying to attract potential Claimants, it is especially important that Claimants themselves feel comfortable and confident in their choice of adviser.  Claimants should ask, when making an enquiry, whether the firm that they are talking to deals with the claims themselves or whether they simply hand them on to others.  Claimants need to ask about the experience of the law firm that would be dealing with the case; whether they have dealt with high value and complex cases in the past; what type of funding options they can provide and whether they can advise on other issues such as Personal Injury Settlement Trusts.

Claimants also need to be satisfied that the individual dealing with the claim has relevant specialist knowledge and experience.

There are a range of specialist solicitors firms in England and Wales who are well equipped to provide expert advice and assistance to those who have suffered serious injury.  We are proud to consider ourselves to be part of this group.

The Clinical Negligence and Catastrophic Injury team at Harrowells have been dealing with high value, complex personal injury claims and clinical negligence matters for over 30 years.  In the last 3 years we have recovered tens of millions of pounds in compensation for clients.  Two of these awards were in excess of £3 million each.  We deal with cases for Claimants from all over the UK.  We have experience at dealing with claims for brain and spinal injuries including cerebral palsy.  We also deal with claims arising from serious accidents abroad.

We are always happy to talk in confidence and at no obligation with individuals who would like advice about pursuing a potential claim.  We consider ourselves to be among the experts in this field.  We would encourage all those who have suffered devastating injury not to settle for anything less.