This summer the Law Society launched a new advertising campaign to promote the use of personal injury solicitors, leading with the slogan 'Don't get mugged by an insurer, use a solicitor'.
The campaign focuses on insurance companies that try to settle compensation claims directly with injured people. This is known as a 'pre medical offer' or 'third party capture' and usually occurs immediately after an accident, when the insurer hopes an instant cash offer will prevent the injured person seeking legal advice to thoroughly explore their claim.
With over three million people being injured in accidents every year and many of them having a right to compensation, it's clear to see why insurance companies would like to settle these claims as quickly and cheaply as possible.
Making the public aware of the motives behind this practice is something that is long overdue, as some of the examples of under settlement are truly shocking:
• 2-3 times more compensation
Figures from the Law Society and Financial Services Authority show that on average people get two to three times more injury compensation by involving a solicitor than accepting the insurers' initial offer
• Offer equal to just 7% of the claim value
Writing just last month, our head of legal operations Jane Gittins gave an example of a case we dealt with where the insurance company's pre medical offer ended up being equivalent to just 7% of the true claim's value
• Not even injured
In his April blog, John Spencer told the story of a colleague that was involved in a car accident and despite not being injured still received an offer of £2,400 from the at fault driver's insurance company to settle any potential claim
The Law Society are publicising the campaign online, in regional press, at various train stations and even in an upcoming YouTube video. The message and image of the campaign are much bolder than in previous years (see 2011's Choose Quality Advice campaign for a stark comparison) which Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson explains is by design:
"This campaign doesn't pull any punches, but we need to make a clear message: see your solicitor, don't accept the insurers' first offer and don't deal with claims management companies."
So while this latest campaign may lack subtlety, hopefully its blunt approach will help get the message across that independent legal advice is the only certain route for injured people to get the justice they deserve.
About the author
Martyn Gilbert is Spencers Solicitors' Chief Information Officer and has worked in the legal industry for over sixteen years. Martyn oversees online communications at Spencers and has helped run various public awareness initiatives including Trouble with Spam Text Messages and Asbestos in Schools.