If you have been unlucky and have been involved in a road accident then you will probably be making a claim against the liable party’s insurance company, You might have been contacted by a member of staff at that insurance company with an offer to settle your claim immediately. The question is, is it better to use your road accident solicitor or to just accept what you are offered by the insurance company?
Recently, insurers have been lambasted in the press and by consumer and road accident solicitor groups for using a tactic known as third party capture. Or third party assistance if you want to give it its nicer name: the one used in the insurance industry.
This technique basically involves getting in touch with the victim and making an offer to settle their claim without having to go to court or go through drawan out negotiations. This will normally happen soon after the accident, normally before the victim has had time to contact a road accident solicitor. Of course, you might consider this an example of an efficient service with you in mind. If you were to ask your road accident solicitor, though, they might not see it that way.
This is simply because it is often the case that the amount of money offered to the victim of the accident by the liable party’s insurers is much less than what they might have received if they had instructed a road accident solicitor to act on their behalf.
Another worrying thing is that until very recently this practice was not regulated. And even now all that exists is a voluntary code of practice. The guidelines, put together by the Association of British Insurers bar insurance companies from making the first contact with the victim in person. This aims to prevent victims from feeling pressured into accepting a settlement before they have received legal advice. Instead first contact should be made by telephone or letter. Also, the code dictates that insurance companies must underline the victim’s right to seek independent legal advice at any stage.
Ultimately, the decision lies with the accident victim about how to go about getting compensation for their injuries and damage to their vehicle. But there is certainly no harm in asking a road accident solicitor’s opinion, especially since he or she will most probably take on your claim on a no win no fee basis and recover their costs from the other side.
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