If you are a member of Cycling UK, British Cycling or the London Cycling Campaign you will have access to those organizations’ retained or partner law firms. The advantage for the member is that the terms are generally better than can be accessed on the open market.
If you have legal expenses (LEI) cover bolted on to a home and contents or bespoke cycle policy the same is likely to apply: LEI insurers tend to discourage their panel law firms from billing the recovered damages.
There are some issues with legal expense insurers and their panel firms:-
Time: you will have to make an application for the LEI to kick in.
Risk averse. A claim will have to be pretty much ‘no fault’ to gain their support.
The law firm most likely will not have a cycling ethos so you may find yourself explaining what a bicycle fork does (yes really, it’s happened).
Don’t expect to have access to anyone with formal high-level legal qualifications, unless you’ve sustained life changing injuries or are dealing with a fatal. See the Claims Funding section for the reasons why.
So the solution is? Remember, the most important decision you will make is choice of representative.
Find a ’boutique’ law firm in which the owners have some identifiable cycling credentials, and whose empathy and knowledge have trickled down to the ranks, some of whom may be cyclists too.
Big is seldom beautiful. Yes, the mega-firms may have spectacular results for the life-changing KSI (killed and seriously injured) claims but (happily) most crashes aren’t.
It may be worth parting with 25% of the award if the chosen representative is sufficiently clued up and is capable of adding that value to the claim!
Personal recommendation trumps all: speak to club members, fellow cyclists, bike to work colleagues, use social media, even Trust Pilot.
Try to get to speak to the person who will deal with our claim and see if they have any cycling credentials. I’ve been asked (quite rightly) if I knew what an Audax is and how to calculate gear length in inches by enquirers sorting wheat from chaff.
How many cases are they handling? Anyone with a 3-figure portfolio is far too busy.
If you’re not discussing the facts of the incident within the first minute of the call, it’s likely you’re speaking with a call centre working to a checklist and not a cycling lawyer.
Can you meet with the file handler, meaning a proper face to face, in an office (or even at your home), not over a Zoom call?
Some ostensibly Claimant firms are actually a spin off from firms which major in Insurance (Defendant) work; one clue is if they only accept ‘no fault’ instructions; ie the Easy Ones.