The process is known as claims capture. Accident victims negotiate direct with insurers, trusting that the insurers will deal fairly with them.
If you’re not already laughing so much you can’t see through the tears, read on for a stunning example of how dangerous this is…
I was consulted a number of years ago by the parents of a seventeen year old girl who, nearly three years earlier, had been briefly crushed against the wall of a farmyard pen by a bull.
Thankfully she did not suffer very serious physical injury but the incident caused severe psychological trauma. One of the results of that was that she no longer wanted anything to do with farming - very disappointing for her and her farmer parents (this did not happen on their farm, by the way).
A very experienced claims handler from the insurers of the neighbouring farmer who owned the bull dealt sympathetically and charmingly with the family. They were offered a sum of money and presented with a document to sign.
At that point, her father came to me with a simple request to ‘look over the document and check that it was alright’. There was quite a degree of embarrassment, because the claims handler had been so wonderful. Added to that, the nice man had plainly stoked some fears about lawyers’ costs.
I said that £1,500 was not enough and advised the father not to sign the agreement. Instead I gave him a conditional fee agreement and we got cracking.
Eighteen months or so later, we emerged from a trial on quantum only having comfortably beaten an offer of settlement we made a year earlier with an order for payment of costs on a full indemnity basis as well as premium interest.
The young lady was awarded (and received) a little under £35,000.
This is but one example. There are many. I have even had one of my own personal injury team, involved in a minor collision, telephoned by insurers (Aviva) and told “you won’t get any more if you go to a lawyer”.
It's like putting a fox in charge of the chickens. Don’t be a fool. You cannot trust them.