Survivors of abuse may be able to seek compensation or redress for the abuse they have experienced. They may have multiple options, and it is important that they make decisions which are best for them, considering the pros and cons of all of the options.
It is almost impossible to do this without getting good advice from a lawyer who has experience helping abuse survivors, and understands their needs, and the complexities of these types of claims.
It can be daunting for abuse survivors to make contact with a law firm, or to know how to choose the right lawyer for them. For this reason, it may be tempting to engage a “middle man” or someone who claims to have associations with lawyers working in this area, and leave the decision up to them.
This is risky, as these associations can often be working effectively as brokers or claim farming for law firms, and may have financial arrangements with the firms such as being paid for passing on your personal details. These people don’t necessarily have your best interests at heart, despite what they might say.
Here are some top tips to help you choose a law firm:
- Research them first online, look at their websites, do some googling. Satisfy yourself that they are a firm that has expertise helping abuse survivors.
- If you have been given the name of the firm by someone else, ask the firm outright whether there is any financial arrangement between the firm and the person who put you in touch with them.
- Make the call yourself to the law firm – see how you are treated by their staff. Do they take your call straight away or call you back promptly? Did you feel that you could talk easily to them and could understand what they were telling you? Did they make you feel like they valued your call, and understood how difficult it may have been to pick up the phone?
- Most firms offer no win, no fee, but not all firms have the same terms of business. Some will use litigation lenders to fund the outlays (expenses) of running a claim (where you pay the interest), but some don’t. Hourly rates differ between firms. Some firms charge an additional uplift on their fees. Some firms agree to cap their fees in some circumstances. Do you find it easy to understand the costs arrangements on which the firm will agree to act for you, and are you happy with it?
- Do the staff use a trauma-informed approach to their interactions with their clients? Abuse survivors have suffered trauma, making them more vulnerable and requiring a greater level of empathy and support.
- Do you understand whether the firm will take an aggressive and adversarial approach to running your claim, or whether there are options for a more collaborative approach? Which option are you looking for?
- Do you feel from your initial interactions with the firm that they will give you honest and objective advice about your claim, and that you could trust them to do the right thing by you?
Making a decision to bring a claim for compensation for abuse is a big step, both emotionally and financially. Doing it with the wrong lawyer for you can make the situation much more stressful and jeopordise the outcome you are able to receive.