We’re all fed up of the phone calls:
“Our records show that you may be entitled to £3,000.00 in compensation after your accident in the last three years”
Nowadays, the majority of us just hang up and get on with our lives. You would think that the cold callers would have given up and moved on to the next marketing scheme. However, it continues to beggar belief how many people are still drawn in by the promise of a substantial pay out, virtually without lifting a finger (or so they are told).
But who actually are these cold-callers?
Nothing but the truth?…
Many people believe that the calls they receive are from law firms. And why wouldn’t they? Some callers introduce themselves as representing a law firm, or their company contains the word “law” or “legal”. However, this introduction is deliberately vague: they are not law firms, they are claims management companies (CMCs).
Under their own regulations, law firms are not permitted to cold call members of the public – or make “unsolicited” approaches. So, if you receive a call out of the blue from someone purporting to be a solicitor, they are either lying or the person is breaching the Solicitors’ Code of Conduct. Either way, you should not continue the conversation!
However, it is perfectly legal for CMCs to make phone calls to people who have agreed (inadvertently or otherwise) to have their details shared with third parties. Remember that box you forgot to tick when you used wifi in a shopping centre, or purchased something online? That is probably why you have been called!
Without your consent, though, there is little a CMC can do. Only last week, for example, a CMC was fined £270,000 for making 22 million unwanted calls.
The Middle Man
The role of the CMC is to identify people who have been injured in an accident who have not yet brought a claim for personal injury. As we know, this often involves a call-centre operation, ringing as many people as possible to generate the “leads” they need.
Once they identify a potential claim, the CMC does not handle it themselves: they “introduce” the client to a law firm, who then take the client’s instructions (usually by telephone). For this service, the law firm usually pays the CMC an “introduction fee”, which can be as much as £500.00.
Nowadays, CMCs are regulated by the Ministry of Justice, and must be authorised before they can carry out their business. This is a good thing, because a lot of “cowboy” operations have been refused authority.
However, despite being regulated, a lot of CMCs still use questionable methods for bringing in work. They have no interest in the claim beyond the introduction; once they are paid, they don’t care if the claim wins or loses. Therefore, unfortunately a lot of clients are misled by CMCs into thinking a claim is worth more than it is, or that their prospects of success are higher than they actually are.
Taking the Rap
If a client has been promised thousands of pounds in compensation by a CMC who is no longer involved in the case, the solicitor is often left with the task of bringing their expectations back down to earth. Needless to say, relationships can break down as a result, and trust between the client and solicitor is lost from the beginning.
Sadly, owing in no small part to the involvement of CMCs, the perception of the personal injury process is not positive. To a lot of people, claims solicitors are seen as mercenary ambulance-chasers making small fortunes whilst ordinary motorists or taxpayers are left out of pocket. Indeed, the insurance industry itself often suggests there is a “rampant compensation culture”, turning genuine claimants into the bad guys.
Back to Basics
The only way to change the perception of personal injury claims is to simplify the process. If a cold caller tells you something which sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Like with any legal issue you may have, do your research into the firm who is going to advise you – do not trust a CMC to have your best interests at heart!
Therefore, our best advice is to take back control of your own claim. Do not be pressured into bringing a claim if you are not sure about the circumstances or the extent of your injury. Seek professional advice directly from a law firm; do not trust a cold call from a random withheld phone number.
Our personal injury department does not take instructions from claims management companies. We only take instructions from clients directly, who have not been coerced or misled into bringing a claim. We provide clear advice throughout the process, making sure you know from the outset whether your claim stands a reasonable prospect of success.
If you need advice in respect of an accident in which you were involved, and have been told by someone that you can bring a claim, why not give us a call to discuss it. We offer a free 30 minute, no obligation consultation in which we can decide together whether you have a valid claim. It can’t hurt to ask – and we try our best to make the process as painless as possible.