Don't get mugged!

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Those injured in accidents are being encouraged to think twice before accepting early offers of compensation.

The Law Society is using a new advertising campaign with the words 'Don't get mugged by an insurer - use a solicitor'.  It is designed to emphasize the importance of obtaining legal advice from specialist personal injury lawyers before responding to any initial offer made to them by an insurer.

The hard-hitting and controversial campaign includes adverts at railway stations, on the internet and in the regional and local media. Desmond Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society said: "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."

Whilst many insurers are entirely reasonable and would freely suggest obtaining legal advice in any event, there is a risk that accepting an early offer of settlement without proper medical evidence and without independent legal advice on what the claim may be worth will result in the injured party being under-compensated.  According to the Financial Services Authority, "on average, people get 2 - 3 times more if they consult a solicitor."

Tom Hartigan, Associate solicitor in Trethowans’ personal injury team commented “we do see evidence of early offers being made to injured claimants, sometimes only days after an accident when the full extent of their injuries still cannot possibly be known. By way of example, we dealt with one case where a claimant approached us having been offered £5,000 in settlement of her claim by the defendant’s insurer. We took the case on, obtained detailed medical evidence and eventually settled the claim for £40,000.  It is crucial that anyone who receives an early offer direct from an insurer seek legal advice from a personal injury specialist as soon as possible and before they accept any payment”.

As the Law Society advert says “You might get a much better deal if you take advice from a solicitor."