Motorists could be missing out, warns specialist accident lawyer

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Motorists could be missing out, warns specialist accident lawyer

20th August 2009

Motorists are being warned that accepting legal support from their car insurers could potentially cost them hundreds of pounds in lost compensation.

They should instead appoint their own independent legal experts in the event of an accident, who will ensure they receive the maximum compensation they are entitled to, says legal specialist Rose Gibson.

Ms Gibson, a partner with Fentons Solicitors LLP and Road Traffic Accident legal expert, is one of a growing number to question the role of insurer-appointed lawyers. She said it had become quite common for insurance companies to offer legal advice as part of a policy as an 'optional extra', actually increasing the overall cost of the insurance package to the motorist.

"There is real concern within the legal profession that many insurers sell-on their clients' personal injury claim to law firms," said Ms Gibson. "Often it is not the most capable or experienced firm that secures the work, but the firm that pays the most. Many people who have purchased legal expenses insurance aren't aware that the LEI is really a method for insurance companies to make more profits by selling on potential claims.

"It is also worth remembering that the insurance company you pay your premiums to and which is offering to appoint a lawyer on your behalf, is the same insurance company that could be being sued for money by another motorist in the event of an accident," said Ms Gibson. "The potential for a conflict of interest is massive."

"It's important that people realise they are under no obligation to accept the legal advice offered by their insurance company," she said.

"All motorists are entitled to obtain independent legal support, and they do not have to use an appointed agent if they prefer not to."

"Some people like the peace of mind of knowing that they have some form of legal advice at their disposal if they were ever to be involved in an accident," she said. "But even those who have paid extra for the service as part of their insurance policy should think carefully about seeking independent legal advice."

She said that some motorists waste a lot of time by agreeing to use an insurer-appointed legal advisor, only to later switch to an independent solicitor. "Some of my clients transfer their cases, saying they weren't happy with the service they received from an insurance company's in-house legal team or solicitor," said Ms Gibson. "Every motorist should try to verify that the firm they are introduced to does not also represent insurance companies, so that there are no conflicts of interest.

"But the most important thing to consider is whether your legal representative is experienced in dealing with accident claims, so that you can be sure you receive the maximum compensation you are entitled to," said Ms Gibson. "After all, it is the motorist who is affected by an accident, and it is only right that they are able to claim a fair amount of compensation."

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of road traffic accidents.

If you think that you have a case or require further information, contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.