Monthly Archives: October 2012

No win no fee legal aid explained

A ‘No Win, No Fee’ agreement between you and your solicitor is legally referred to as a ‘Conditional Fee Agreement’ or CFA. A CFA is an agreement in which you solicitor agrees to only be paid their fee is your claim is successful. If you lose your claim, then you will not have to pay them, as they are not entitled to any fees unless they win your claim.

Despite this, they are able to recover their expenses in the event of your case being lost, however this is usually covered by your legal expenses insurers for a fixed premium and known as an ‘After the Event’ policy. This can protect you from having to pay disbursements such as the cost of medical or expert witness reports. Likewise, insurance protects you from paying court costs.

The ‘no win, no fee’ system was developed in 2000 by the government, and has took the place of legal aid in accident and injury claims. Claims regarding clinical negligence, abuse or police abuse would still be dealt with by legal aid; however, the introduction of ‘no win, no fee’ has opened up the opportunity for thousands of victims of personal injury, from brain injury to broken bones, to gain access to the courts and receive compensation for the other people’s negligence.

When making your initial claim, the personal injury solicitors will assess the viability of your case, so make to include all details of the injury and the event, as if they think you have a valid claim and a good chance of winning compensation; they will take on your case.

This prevents lengthy court cases in situations where the claim was unlikely to be won in the first place. After your initial claim is processed, you will sign a written contractual conditional fee agreement with your solicitors. Be sure to read this carefully as it will cover all the details of what you pay and when you pay.

There are many types of ‘no win, no fee’ solicitors, many who work in specific categories such as road traffic solicitors, while others work with a broader range of clients. Despite this, not all solicitors are the same. It’s always best to look around online and read reviews before committing yourself to one ‘no win, no fee’ solicitor company.

This will ensure that you get the best possible legal aid for your case and also prevent you from being ripped off. Always be sure you have read through contracts thoroughly and never be pressured into signing anything in a rush. Read the small print.

How to save money on your insurance premiums

Insurance is one of those things that should be simple but end up taking hours of your time to get right. The concept is simple: you pay a monthly or yearly premium and in return, insurers offer you coverage on the terms agreed upon. When you need to make a claim, the insurance company will pay out under the agreed terms.

Problem is things get considerably more complex when you start factoring different levels of cover and excess and so on. Insurance can end up being unnecessary in some cases, and too expensive in other cases – so getting the right level of cover for what you need will result in the cheapest insurance premiums.

Contents insurance

When looking into buying contents insurance, you will be required to agree on an excess. The excess is the amount you will be expected to cover, with insurers paying the rest. The best way to save money on home insurance is to therefore agree on a high level of excess – as insurers won’t be required to pay unless significant damage or loss occurs. This means that if you damage something, you may have to sell stuff online for free to cover the damage yourself.

Duplicate cover

When you have a number of ongoing agreements with credit card companies, insurers and agencies, you could end up with duplicate cover – both insurers covering the same thing. Insurers will charge you for every type of cover you have – so making sure you have no conflicts will save you money.

Make fewer claims

Insurance should only be used in cases where you really need it, as regular small claims will all add up to increase the cost of your insurance premiums. Only use your insurance when you simply can’t afford to cover the costs yourself. Speaking from personal experience, I had to sell my iPhone because constantly replacing it after breakages and loss was costing me too much on my insurance.

Pay more

Bear with me, this does make sense. Your insurer will charge lower premiums if you are prepared to take on more of the cost if you do make a claim. Upping your excess can be a great everyday saver if you are pretty certain you won’t need to make a claim. Think about your previous history with phones and tech. If you tend to take good care of them, this is a great call.

Shop around

The insurance market is extremely competitive in all sectors, especially since there are now many insurers who operate only over the internet in a bid to keep costs down. That means that with a bit of work, you could be saving hundreds of pounds on your insurance policy. There are many comparison websites that allow you to compare the market easily. The important thing to remember is that you should always compare insurance policies on a like-for- like basis, or you could end up with less cover than you had planned for.

A guide to insuring your property

As a homeowner, having the right level of insurance to protect you from unforeseen circumstances is always important. There are many different types of insurance you can get for your property, which often causes much confusion for homeowners. If you’re looking into getting insurance for your property, this guide will help you understand the insurance policies available.

Buildings insurance

Buildings insurance is by far the most important form of insurance a homeowner can have, as it covers the most expensive part – the structure of the building. If you consider that replacing a damaged wall or roof could set you back tens of thousands of pounds, having insurance to cover the damage can prove to be invaluable.

Buildings insurance can end up costing you an arm and a leg if you get the wrong level of cover. You should have enough insurance to cover the entire repair of your home. Many homeowners make the mistake of covering their home for the market value of their home, when in fact a rebuild would cost significantly less. It’s important that you get the right rebuild cost, which could mean asking a professional to calculate the figure for you. Because the rebuild cost will vary with time, its recommended that you have this figure re checked every few years to ensure that you’re insured to the correct level.

Also, if you own a flat, be aware that you are usually not responsible for buildings insurance. The freeholder – more often than not your landlord – has that task to fulfil. Speak to them or their managing agent about seeing an up-to-date policy.

Contents insurance

As the name suggest, contents insurance will cover the contents of your home. The value of your contents and the types of items you wish to ensure will determine the price of your insurance premium.

Reading the small print is always important with any insurance-policy as you will find that some insurers’ impose certain limits on high valued items, which you may need to insure with specialist insurers.

The average four-person family will have close to £50,000 worth of items, so being insured for the right amount is very important if you want to be properly protected. Calculating your level of cover will require you taking a detailed inventory of all your household items from electronics to clothing.

Most basic contents insurance policies won’t cover accidental damage so be sure to take out additional cover if you need it.

Landlords Insurance

If you intend on renting out your property, having landlords insurance alongside buildings insurance is highly recommended. Landlords insurance will normally cover the damage made to furnishings and fittings as well as more complex cover such as rent protection should your property be damaged and your tenants have to move out.

Another important feature of Landlords insurance is that many policies offer liability insurance, meaning should anyone be injured as a result of a problem with your property, your legal fees and any pay outs will be covered.

Can I make an insurance claim if someone assaults me?

Assault can be the most traumatic event you can experience in your life. Cherished possessions can be taken from you, and the physical and emotional damage can take weeks, months or even years to overcome.

While compensation will never put right all the fall-out from an assault, it can at least get you back on track. Many victims are too shell-shocked in the immediate aftermath to even think about making a claim. It pays, therefore, to get your injury compensation advice as soon as possible.

Risk

The good news is that crime is on the way down, but while there was a fall of 7.2% between March 2011 and March 2012 in ‘violence against the person’ – the crime classification encompassing assaults, as well as murder, manslaughter etc. – the amount of offences still stood at 763,000.

The British Crime Survey of 2009/10 suggested 42 in every 1000 men would be a victim of violent crime, while the figure for women was 18 in 1000. While assault is uncommon, and despite the fall in crime rates in the intervening period, the chances of falling victim are still worth worrying about.

Insurance

It is not as simple to go about getting compensation for an assault as you may think. One issue is that you will find yourself needing to go through different insurers to cover your health issues, damage to your property or possessions, and any theft that took place.

Added to that, is the fact many insurers don’t provide cover if, for instance, you were under the influence of alcohol, or acted in such a way as to invite the incident. A cyclist who is barged off their bike before it is stolen may well receive compensation, but if they had it taken while they walked it down the street, the same bike insurance-policy might not pay out.

A consumer report in 2011 highlighted that only 6% of car insurance policies effectively covered ‘road rage’: damage to a car might be covered (though proof that the damage was not brought on by the policy holder may need to be provided), physical assault and emotional trauma may well not be.

Legal action

The best way to seek redress is to make a criminal injury compensation claim. The ways you can claim include:

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)

The CICA is the only way compensation can be received if the victim’s attacker is unknown or cannot pay the damages awarded. That makes it the most common means by which victims seek compensation.

Its definition of assault is strict, and awards tend to be lower, but claims made this way are a good back up if the civil claims below are unsuccessful.

Direct claim against the attacker

Assault does not have to include a physical act. If you believe your attacker intends to commit battery then an assault has taken place.

If you can prove there was reason for you to believe your attacker intended to commit battery then you can make a successful civil claim. But you need to be able to identify your attacker and be sure they can pay out.

Claim against your employer

If you were a victim of assault while at work or carrying out your job, you may be able to make a claim against your employer. To do this you need to prove the risk you were exposed to was unreasonable, foreseeable and could have been prevented.

Make sure you speak to a reputable firm of specialist solicitors such as injurylawyers4u.co.uk before choosing which path to take.