If you have suffered a whiplash injury through no fault of your own, you may want to consider making a claim against another party. This may be a person you came into contact with, for example, the driver of a car that collided with our vehicle, or it may be against a company.
To make a claim for a whiplash injury, you may wish to speak with a specialist solicitor. Unlike solicitors who provide a general service, whiplash solicitors deal specifically with whiplash cases, and many of them offer a ‘No Win No Fee’ agreement (also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA).
Understanding No Win No Fee Agreements
If you have a strong case, a No Win No Fee agreement provides you with a service that, in effect, will cost you nothing if you win. Obviously, this is an appealing prospect to people who have suffered whiplash injuries, but it is important that you realise that No Win No Fee does not mean you will have nothing to pay – it simply means that if your case is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay your solicitor a fee.
To show you how it works, let’s look at two possible scenarios:
- Your whiplash claim is successful.
Let’s say you were involved in a car accident where a car hit you from behind. As a result of the accident, you sustained whiplash injuries and suffered from the symptoms for several weeks.
In court, it is decided that the accident was not your fault and so you are awarded a compensation fee. The fee is to be paid by the driver of the other car, and they are also ordered to pay for some of your costs. These may include your solicitor’s fee, court costs and additional expenses such as the cost of medical reports.
In this scenario, you have nothing to pay as your costs are going to be paid by the losing party. However, had the losing party been ordered to only pay part of the costs (or none of the costs at all), you would be responsible for all of your own remaining costs, including the solicitor’s fees.
- Your whiplash claim is unsuccessful.
Imagine that you had been participating in a contact sport, such as rugby. During a game, you are hit by another player in what you feel is a violent and illegal tackle. As a result of this, you suffer whiplash injuries.
Despite having witnesses to back up your story, the judge decides against you and says that the opposing player was not acting with the intent to injure you. You lose your case and are ordered to pay the costs of the opposing player, including their solicitor’s fees. You also have to pay for your own court costs, medical reports etc. The only thing you won’t have to pay for is your solicitor’s fee, as agreed with the No Win No Fee arrangement.
Looking at these scenarios, you may be discouraged from making a whiplash claim, simply because of the potential costs should you lose. Please don’t be deterred – a good whiplash solicitor will be able to advise you on the strength of your case and also arrange insurance to cover you should you lose.
Choosing a Whiplash Solicitor
When choosing a solicitor to handle your whiplash case, there are several things you should consider:
- Is the solicitor a specialist in whiplash claims?
- What is the solicitor’s success rate with whiplash claims?
- Does the solicitor have a good reputation?
- What are the solicitor’s fees and win payment?
Specialist whiplash solicitors have expert knowledge of all the issues you may face and will give you a better chance of being awarded a high payout. As they know the system, they will also be able to handle your case more quickly.
When considering the solicitor’s fees and win payments, don’t make the mistake of choosing the solicitor with the lowest price. Take a look at their success rate and try and find out about their reputation in the industry. It may be better to accept a higher fee in return for a much better chance of success.
Minimise your Costs with After The Event Insurance
When you choose a whiplash claims solicitor, they will examine your case and determine whether it is likely to succeed in court. If they are offering a No Win No Fee agreement, they will usually only take on your case if it is strong.
Some cases could go either way, and so there is an element of risk involved – the result is dependent on the judge’s interpretation of events. This is often the case with whiplash injuries sustained during sports, as there is a need to prove negligence or an intention to inflict damage. With these types of case, your whiplash solicitor should advise you to take out an After the Event (ATE) insurance policy. The ATE will cover part or all of the costs you are ordered to pay in the event of a loss.