A dozen new hires for Vincents Solicitors’ PI department

Firm dealing with increase in claims ahead of rule changes

Vincents Solicitors is recruiting new staff to its Personal Injury-Road Traffic Accident department, in order to help deal with a higher number of cases than ever before. Compensation claims following road traffic accidents are expected to increase ahead of proposed new legislation which will dramatically limit the financial compensation paid to victims from next April.

Twelve new recruits over the last few months include solicitors, senior litigators, litigation executives and administrators joining the Preston-based team. Further recruitment is expected as department head Cath Pearson looks to manage an ever-growing workload.

Three new litigation solicitors have been brought in to deal with the increasing number of cases being taken to court as insurance companies contest claims. Nadeem Vazar joins Vincents from Turner and White in Preston; Antonia Tziortzie arrived from Equitas, and Natalie Tomlinson was previously with Scott Reece in Skelmersdale.

Fiona Collings and Mick Smith join as a senior litigators, along with five new litigation executives: Mujahid Wahab, Jade Driver, Alexandra Salkeld, Carla Robbins, and Jolanta Liscioch-Rusin. Two further administrative assistants, Rachel Rayner and Daniel Dubois, have also been recruited, boosting the PI-RTA team to 17.

The department has already seen workload almost triple over the last three years. This is due to a combination of word-of-mouth recommendation, pro-active marketing, and the ability to help clients of various nationalities thanks to a number of in-house language specialists. These include Greek, Polish, Punjabi and Gujarati speakers.

But there is likely to be even more growth ahead of the government reforms expected to come in next year, according to Cath Pearson.

“The government is looking to change the system in a way which will leave many victims of whiplash and other ‘minor’ injuries without access to legal support unless they pay for it upfront. Within the next couple of years, the majority of people injured in minor road traffic accidents will therefore have to make the claim by themselves as their claims will be classed as being less than £5000 and as such will be in the small claims track within the Court where legal costs are not recoverable.

“The proposal involves a fixed amount of compensation for whiplash injuries which is dramatically less than the amounts currently being recovered. For example, a typical nine-month whiplash injury to the neck will currently attract an award in the region of £2,900, but the new cap is likely to be around £765. In short, any whiplash injuries with a duration of less than 18-24 months will be caught by these provisions and the compensation will dramatically reduce,” said Cath.

“No one quite knows the exact details of all the changes, or the exact timescale, but the overall result will undoubtedly be reduced pay-outs for victims and an inability to use legal support. They will have to fight their own cases without a solicitor’s help, even though insurers will undoubtedly still employ lawyers to act on their behalf. Although claims can be made up to three years after the date of the accident, any delay now could leave victims quite severely out of pocket.”

The government says the changes are designed to stamp out fraudulent claims, and would contribute to lower insurance premiums, though few in the legal sector accept the arguments. The proposal is to push all RTA claims under £5,000 into the small claims court – where solicitors cannot recoup costs and therefore most people have to represent themselves.

She added: “The upshot is that many victims of road traffic accidents will be disadvantaged by the government’s reforms, with access to justice being seriously curtailed in this country. So, it’s most definitely worth getting any claim started as quickly as possible while the legal support is still available under a Conditional Fee Agreement.

“In light of the expected changes, we have increased our capacity in order to process as many claims as possible as quickly as we can, to help victims secure a fair level of damages and compensation for loss of earnings and any medical costs incurred.”

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