How can law firms prepare for the Civil Liability Act?

At mmadigital, we’ve been successfully helping Personal Injury (PI) firms generate new business leads for over two years; using our finely-tuned lead generation platform to attract and deliver high-value enquiries. By making the law more easily accessible for consumers through targeted messaging and TV and radio campaigns, we’ve helped to introduce thousands of genuinely injured individuals to our panel member firms throughout the UK.

However, new legislation aimed at putting an end to fraudulent whiplash claims could see the PI sector take a hit, as claimants will be encouraged to submit their claim via an online portal for courts to manage directly – if their damages are under a certain value.

What does the Civil Liability Act mean for PI firms?

The Civil Liability Bill came about to put an end to what the government sees as the high number of “minor, exaggerated and fraudulent claims for compensation, predominantly resulting from whiplash injuries sustained in road traffic accidents”. Since being granted Royal Assent the Bill entered law as the Civil Liability Act, due to come into effect from April 2020.

In the year up to November 2018, the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority found that 657 law firms closed in the UK, and the Act potentially spells more trouble for the market. Essentially the Act will prevent firms from recovering legal costs for Road Traffic Accident (RTA) claims under the value of £5,000 and £2,000 for Employer Liability (EL) & Public Liability (PL) claims. With no financial incentive for PI firms to handle these claims, claimants will need to report, manage and process these claims themselves without relying on professional legal advice for guidance.

So what can firms do to counteract the loss of business?

Put simply, PI firms and customer acquisition partners will need to step up their game to compete for the higher-value claims. Putting measures in place and re-evaluating marketing strategy now, will stand you in good stead for the 2020 legislation, but where do you start?

1. Maximise your chance of winning new business

The key is to channel marketing efforts to attract higher value claims, so it’s important to maximise your chances of winning new business. Most claimants looking for legal support should start the process by researching their options thoroughly online and comparing firms to find the best fit. In line with guidance from the Competition and Markets Authority, law firms should make sure that they provide enough information around their services and costs to help the consumer make the right decision.

2. Offer advice and support

Although your law firm is unlikely to represent small personal injury claimants once the legislation is in place, you can still provide the support they might need to pursue their claim. Take the time to get to grips with the government PI claims portal and submission process. You could offer claimants help and assistance to fill out the necessary documentation by either offering one-to-one guidance, or by producing an informative guide to take them through the necessary steps. While you won’t benefit directly from helping with a low-value claim, if the claimant requires legal help in the future, they’ll be more likely to turn to your firm as someone they already know and trust.

You could also share information about the support available through McKenzie Friends; the charity that helps litigant people by initiating a relationship with an individual who will accompany the claimant to court and offer advice and support.

3. Branch out

Lower-value Personal injury claims, that will be affected by the Civil Liability Act, only make up a small proportion of the entire claims landscape, so unless your firm only specialises in RTA claims for example then focus on your other specialisms, or retrain your lawyers into unaffected areas. mmadigital, as a forward-thinking lead generator has for some time had a greater focus on EL and PL enquiries – with 80% of lower value PI claims typically being RTAs.

4. Paid search

In order to maximise potential business for other claims, you could consider investing in Pay Per Click (PPC) marketing methods to bring your business to the top of relevant search rankings by bidding on key terms. However, the average personal injury PPC price has increased more than 257% since mmadigital launched The Compensation Experts collective in 2016, so you may wish to consider outsourcing specialist help to ensure you generate a worthwhile return on your investment.

While the Civil Liabilities Act will undoubtedly represent a challenge for law firms and intermediaries, it’s important to view the change as a challenge and an opportunity. Once the Act comes into force, everyone will be in the same boat – including your competitors. Now is the perfect time to step up your marketing efforts to counteract any potential loss of revenue from small personal injury claims and stand out from the rest of the crowded market.