Knowing whether you have a claim

Making a claim is not as complicated as you may think. If you’re not sure whether you may have a personal injury or medical negligence claim, you may feel overwhelmed about potentially going forward with one.

This guide is intended to help you work out if you would be able to make a claim after suffering an injury or illness.

Type of injury

Personal injuries come in many different forms. However, the general rule is that if you have been injured in an accident that was the fault of another person or organisation, you may have a personal injury claim.

Some of the most common types of personal injury include:

  • Accident at work
  • Road traffic accident
  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Faulty product injury
  • Accident abroad

However, if you’ve had an accident that doesn’t appear to fit into one of these categories, you may still have a claim. It is advisable to seek guidance on the issue.

Time limits

In the majority of cases, you will have a certain amount of time in which to bring a claim for compensation. This is generally three years. So if you have been injured in the last three years, you could be able to make a claim.

However, there are exceptions to the rule. For example, if the accident happened to a child, they have three years from their 18th birthday in which to make their claim. Meanwhile, if you are claiming on behalf of someone without the mental capacity to claim for themselves, it is unlikely that you will face any time limit.

Injury severity

In order to make a claim, your injury needs to be serious enough to require medical treatment. It is therefore important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. If your injury is serious enough to claim for, you will likely require a period of recovery. The sooner you can start getting back on your feet, the better.

As well as helping you to recover physically from your ordeal, medical attention will provide important evidence for your claim.

Evidence

To present a claim, you may need certain pieces of evidence. This will help to strengthen your case. Among the most important and persuasive pieces of evidence you can submit with your claim are police, workplace accident and medical reports.

These will support your claim that the injury caused you real problems and that the accident was caused by someone else. Your solicitor will also want to know about any witness statements you may have access to. These will help show who was responsible for the incident.

Compensation

The amount of compensation you receive after a successful claim will depend on a number of factors. These are based on the pain and suffering your injury has caused you to experience, as well as any costs you have incurred as a result of your injury.

If you have been forced to take time off work and therefore lost earnings, this will be taken into account when compensation is awarded. You could also be compensated for any damage sustained to your belongings.

Photo credit: Vadim Guzhva

How to stand out as a forward-thinking lawyer (Wilford Smith Insights)

Getting ahead in the legal sector can be challenging. With greater competition than ever before and technology creating a broader range of career paths, how can you ensure you stand out from your competitors? In particular, becoming a forward-thinking lawyer with ideas about how the legal sector can adapt to modern technology and become more efficient is an essential part of having a successful legal career. In this post we look at five key ways you can set yourself apart from the pack in 2019.

1. Understand the importance of your online presence

From guest posts to social media statements, the importance of your online presence cannot be overstated. Whilst we usually associate building a following with the influencers of Instagram, there is just as much opportunity for lawyers to become influencers in their sector. The key is to choose an area of expertise that other lawyers enjoy learning about, and dedicate time to becoming the go-to resource for updates in this area. Whilst it is always a good idea to create and share content about your particular practice area, you may gain more attention from discussing current topics such as blockchain, cryptocurrency, Artificial Intelligence or working culture. These are just examples and you should identify key trending topics to stay ahead.

Sharing content from other experts in the area you have identified is a great way to build a strong network and find opportunities to collaborate. Having a strong presence online not only looks great to potential employers, but can also result in referral work including opportunities to give seminars or guest post about the topic.

2. Embrace technology

Many lawyers shy away from technology, either because they are too busy or because they have failed to recognise the importance of technology in the future of legal services. Becoming the ‘go-to’ person in your firm for advice or assistance with technology will keep you at the forefront of your colleagues’ minds and make you an indispensable asset to your firm. Make a point of learning more about new technologies in your firm than anyone else and become a champion for its use. You can even identify emerging technologies that may make your workplace more efficient or profitable. If so, you should be able to demonstrate the impact of your discovery. For example, if you make improvements to the website, you can use Google Analytics to track the impact of your work.

3. Utilise digital marketing

Many lawyers ensure they excel in business development activities in order to make themselves more attractive to firms. In 2019, digital marketing should be an integral part of business development strategy in every firm, but understanding how this is best executed can set you apart from other lawyers in your firm. There are a great number of elements that contribute to a digital marketing strategy, and understanding the part each of these play can help you to address the specific needs of your firm. Law firms large and small often fall into the trap of believing that their work comes from word of mouth, referrals or networking. However, understanding data and analytics related to digital marketing can provide proof of exactly how much business and even cash your efforts are bringing to the firm.

Learning elements of digital marketing that you can do on behalf of your firm, such as social media, blogging or SEO is an excellent start, but can be time consuming. It may be worthwhile identifying local partners who can carry out this work on behalf of the firm to take your digital presence to the next level.

4. Identify opportunities for efficiencies in your firm

Price competitiveness is a real challenge for firms in modern times. We live in an era where clients will routinely call many firms for a quote for work, and simply go with the cheapest. However, this may be an opportunity for you and your firm for two reasons.

Firstly, becoming more profitable doesn’t necessarily mean charging higher prices or bringing in more money. Becoming more efficient is an excellent means of driving profitability in your firm. Technology offers many opportunities to make your firm more efficient, from automatic client updates to contract automation. Try to identify the most time-consuming or labour intensive elements of your work, and look to find a technology based solution.

Secondly, client demand for more efficient services is increasing. Being able to demonstrate that your firm can get client work done with greater accuracy and efficiency can help win you business and build stronger client relationships. It can also generate more business through word-of-mouth – you want every client to say how swiftly you solved their problem.

5. Recruiting digital talent

Careers in technology are broad and varied. From coding to paid advertising, there is no way you can learn all of these skills in addition to being a lawyer. However, you can understand what is required within your firm and find the best digital talent to carry it out. Identifying workers with expertise in technology that can improve the efficiency of your firm, handle your social media and even grow your online presence can demonstrate leadership skills. Your role is project management and strategy, which can set you apart early in your career.

One of the biggest differences from the technology sector to the legal sector is that a great number of workers are in the ‘gig economy’ – preferring to work project to project on a freelance basis. Of course, hiring digital talent to work for your business long term can have a great impact but having the option to have digital or technology workers work on specific problems for a short period of time can save money, and makes the decision to hire them much more straightforward.

As you can see, there are a number of ways to stand out as a modern, innovative lawyer in 2019, and that can make all the difference to your career trajectory. It is up to you how you set yourself apart.

Wilford Smith has celebrated over 30 years in the profession, becoming a most prestigious law firm. Helping clients with wills, probate, conveyancing, entrepreneur visas, investor visas, criminal defence and more, they have a richly deserved reputation for independence hard work and results. You can find and connect with Wilford Smith’s team of solicitors on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Can a workplace accident cause PTSD?

Having an accident at work can have lasting effects on a person. And not just physically.

When you suffer an injury in an accident at work, you may end up suffering the emotional and psychological consequences.

You might think a condition like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects only those in particularly high-stress roles, like the military. However, it can strike anyone after any significant distressing event.

Witnessing an accident

Accidents at work are most likely to affect those working in agricultural industries – including forestry and fishing. This is according to the Health and Safety Executive’s latest data. In 2018/19, 32 people in these industries were killed on the job.

Construction was the second most dangerous industry, with 30 deaths in this period, while manufacturing was third, with 26 people killed.

According to mental health charity Mind, witnessing a fatal accident can be a cause for PTSD. This means that workers in these industries are not only at greater risk of death in the course of their daily lives, but are also more likely to witness a colleague have a fatal accident.

This could lead to affected workers suffering significant levels of emotional trauma, affecting their work and personal lives.

PTSD after an accident

Suffering an accident yourself can also lead to mental trauma. Agriculture and construction were the two industries that saw the highest number of non-fatal injuries and work-related illness in 2017/18, according to the HSE’s most recent figures. Agriculture saw 3,690 per 100,000 workers hurt, while construction saw 2,620.

These workers could have suffered serious accidents, leaving them with significant injuries. Those who have suffered this kind of injury could find that they then experience further pain and suffering in the form of PTSD.

Some of the most serious types of accidents at work – and those typically more likely to cause a higher level of emotional suffering – involve being struck by a moving object or vehicle. Meanwhile, falls from height can cause serious injuries and affected 8% of employees who reported a workplace accident in 2017/18, according to the HSE.

Potentially the most upsetting type of accident a worker can suffer, however, is an act of violence. This could be caused by a colleague, customer or member of the public. Those in positions of authority can be particularly vulnerable to this kind of injury. For example, a survey commissioned by Channel 4’s Dispatches found that eight in 10 police officers were physically attacked and one-third suffered injuries last year.

Symptoms of PTSD

Mental health charity Rethink Mental Illness has highlighted some of the symptoms of PTSD, including:

  • Flashbacks or dreams about the event or accident
  • Avoiding situations that remind you of what happened
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Being unable to feel emotions
  • Poor concentration
  • Not enjoying activities any longer
  • Feeling on edge, being easily startled, as well as alert and anxious

The Royal College of Psychologists suggests that if you have experienced these symptoms for more than six weeks since the event, you should talk it over with your doctor.

There has been a general downward trend in rates of self-reported non-fatal workplace accidents in the last two decades. Since 2000/01, the estimated rate has dropped by around half, says the HSE’s statistics. Meanwhile, there has been an estimated decrease of 58% in employer-reported non-fatal injury since 1986/87.

However, although these accidents are becoming less likely to happen to workers – as health and safety practices become more robust across all industries – those that do happen can have huge impacts.

This is why it’s vital to seek out the right help when an incident like this affects you.

Image credit: Pop Nukoonrat

Leading organisations criticise post-Brexit environmental protection strategy

As the United Kingdom hurtles towards Brexit with a suspended parliament, numerous facets of the countries post-Europe laws are unknown. Among the grey areas are the government’s plans for environmental protection laws once the plug is pulled on participation in the EU. A lack of clarity on the matter has driven 36 leading organisations to push the new Prime Minister to detail his post-Brexit environment plans.

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested firmly that the UK will diverge from environmental protection rules laid out by the European Union. Johnson said the country will have the ability to create and introduce its own laws and not be tied to the regulatory framework of the EU.

Despite the admittance, Johnson’s government has been vague on details. Leading organisations that focus on environmental issues have joined forces in a joint letter to Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers to press for more details.

Among the co-signers of the letter are Amnesty International, Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Campaign for National Parks, CPRE, ClientEarth, Compassion in World Farming, Friends of the Earth, Global Witness, Greenpeace, RSPB, Sustain and Wild Justice.

Previous environment secretary Michael Gove had said the UK’s environment laws would remain in line with Europe but would be “enhanced” after Brexit. Furthermore, Gove also detailed a new environmental watchdog – the Office of Environmental Protection (OEP) – to be launched in December under the Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill.

OEP will investigate complaints made against public authorities accused of breaking environmental laws. However, a cross-party committee of MPs reviewing the watchdog said its is not capable of acting autonomously and is not independent from The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

In other words, while investigations would be confirmed, details of them would remain classified. In the joint letter, the 36 organisations said OEP “would impose a degree of secrecy which does not apply to any other UK environmental regulator”. Not disclosing the information “is wholly at odds with the public’s right to information”, the letter reads.

Speaking to The Independent, Rebecca Newsom, head of politics for Greenpeace, said making information regarding environmental investigations available to the public should be a fundamental part of democracy.

“If ministers can dictate what the new environmental watchdog can or cannot disclose, that’ll be the first step towards muzzling it. This new agency will bear the huge responsibility of replacing powerful institutions like the European Commission in enforcing rules and targets on pollution and nature protection after Brexit, so it’s absolutely vital for the public to be able to see it operate effectively.

“Britain prides itself on having some of the strongest transparency laws in the world, and the new nature watchdog should be no exception.”

All signatories of the letter say UK citizens have right of access to environment information through the country’s Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) laws. There are times when information can be withheld, such as when disclosing information would directly affect an investigation. Even in these cases, the information must still be made available if it is in the public interest.

Under the new draft bill, none of these provisions are in place, allowing OEP to retain information.

“If the OEP, public authority or minister (as the case may be) did not wish the information to be released, it would be withheld,” the letter reads. “There would be no need to show that disclosure would be harmful. The public interest in the information would be irrelevant. This would reverse decades of progress in opening up environmental information.”

Environment Protection standards are “under threat”

While the UK prepares to overhaul its environmental laws after departure from the EU, the country’s current infrastructure is already under scrutiny before it leaves the bloc. According to a recent report, environmental protection standards in the UK are eroding and are “under threat” from red tape and budget cuts.

Unchecked.uk analysis published in late August points to a reduction in budget and staff for regulatory and enforcement agencies tasked with managing environmental protection laws. In the report, the campaign suggests an “enforcement gap” has been created that harms the UK’s ability to govern on environmental issues.

Twenty organisations signed a joint letter sent to The Times that warned “steep reduction in inspections and monitoring of regulated business in recent years risks undermining the achievement of public policy objectives.”

Co-authoring organisations suggest the creation of a regulator that is backed by enough funding to underpin environmental protection laws. Furthermore, the group says there must be a clear distinction of reward and punishment between companies that effectively develop compliance frameworks with environmental regulations and those that do not.

Emma Rose of Unchecked.uk said: “The analysis we are publishing today is alarming and is cause for serious national concern. With important regulators operating with on average 50% less funding than ten years ago, there is a need for a closer look at the state of our public protection infrastructure.”

Free from EU Regulation

It is clear Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a long-time and fierce proponent of Brexit, believes the UK will be better off out of the EU, and that extends to environment regulations. However, there are concerns amongst environmental groups that the country will adopt a weaker framework for environmental governance without EU influence.

Johnson and his government may prefer such an outcome. Certainly, there has been a growing air of frustration about European laws directing UK environmental policy, for better or for worse.

For example, the EU has recently criticised the UK government’s failure to fulfil its regulatory obligations regarding the protection of important wildlife. Despite promises of improvement, EU regulators said last month no progress has been made.

Under the European Union’s habitats and birds directive, members of the bloc must commit to improving the protection if individual species and developing breeding and resting sites for endangered animals. As a member of the EU, the UK would have been held to account by the European Commission for its failures. However, with Brexit imminent the commission has stopped hearing complaints against the UK regarding environmental law.

Image credit: unsplash.com

The effect of serious personal injuries

Suffering a serious injury in an accident is one of the most upsetting experiences a person can go through. A serious injury can leave you scared and highly anxious about your future, particularly if you can no longer work or you’ve had to take a significant period of time off.

It is for this reason that personal injury claims can provide a lifeline to many. Without the assistance that such a claim can provide, victims of these accidents could find themselves in dire financial straits.

What makes an injury serious?

Serious injuries can take many forms. Also known as catastrophic injuries, serious injuries can be life-changing and extremely difficult to deal with after the event.

Road traffic accidents and falls from height are some of the more common ways you might suffer such an injury, but there are numerous ways it can occur. Whatever the cause, serious injuries can affect you, your loved ones and even your colleagues.

You have likely suffered a serious injury if you’ve experienced any of these:

  • Brain and head injury
  • Spine and back injury
  • Burns and skin damage
  • Sight or hearing loss or damage
  • Internal organ injury
  • Loss of limbs and amputation
  • Paralysis, including partial and temporary
  • Fractures and broken bones

Effects of serious injuries

After suffering a serious injury, you might be left with changed circumstances. This can relate to your emotional recovery, as well as your physical needs. As you may be left struggling to come to terms with what has happened to you, it’s important not to neglect the mental trauma you may have suffered.

You could need to take part in continuing treatment, such as physiotherapy or counselling, to help you deal with what happened. You might also need specialist equipment or modifications installed in your home to help you accomplish daily tasks, such as cooking or cleaning. You may find that you require a mobility aid or vehicle adaptation to help you get around.

After a serious injury, you may find that you can’t work anymore or that you have to take a long period off. This could leave you facing huge financial pressures, particularly if you’re the main breadwinner in your household.

What can I do after a serious injury?

After a serious injury, the first thing to focus on is your health. Your priority should be to get the right treatment. You need to give yourself the best chance of recovery.

You can then start to think about the justice you’re entitled to. If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you can make a claim against them for compensation. And you may well need this money to finance treatments to aid your recovery. As there is generally a three-year limit in which to make your claim, it will pay to start thinking about it sooner rather than later.

Compensation typically falls into two categories. General damages are calculated by the severity of your injury and the suffering you have gone through. The amount you may receive are based on Judicial College Guidelines, which has set out monetary bands for specific injuries.

Meanwhile, special damages take into account the costs you’ve incurred since your injury, including medical bills and travel to and from appointments. It also covers any losses you’ve suffered through time off work. In addition, special damages consider the impact of your injury on your quality of life, including ongoing costs and future loss of earnings.

In order to obtain the maximum amount of compensation to help you get through what may be a hugely difficult time, you need the right lawyer. A specialist personal injury solicitor will help you drive your claim forward, working to help you secure your future.

Image copyright : Jaromír Chalabala

Medical negligence claims vs personal injury claims

Need to make a healthcare related claim but not sure what type of claim you should be making? You generally have two options when looking to make a medical claim. These include medical negligence and personal injury claims.

In order to receive justice, it’s important to ensure you are making the right type of claim. Here, you will discover a brief overview of each type of claim and how they are dealt with in court.

What is a medical negligence claim?

A medical negligence claim applies when you or a loved one has received negligent care at the doctors, health clinic or hospital. It could be that you’ve experienced damage or loss because of the care you received. It could relate to both physical damages or psychological damages if being treated within the mental health setting.

What is a personal injury claim?

With personal injury claims, you’ll be suing any type of company or individual for an accident you experienced. It could be a slip or fall or shelving which wasn’t installed correctly which fell and caused injury. Or, you could have been a passenger in a car when you experienced an accident. These types of accidents can happen anywhere and don’t involve damages or loss specifically within the medical setting. They also tend to be very black and white in terms of blame.

How the two differ in court

With both clinical negligence and personal injury claims, you need to be able to prove that the person or company you are suing, caused your injury or damages. Personal injury claims tend to be straight forward, whereas medical negligence claims can be complex. If the medical professional can show that they did what ought to be done, it can dismiss the entire case.

For this reason, you’ll typically need a much more experienced and specialised lawyer for a medical negligence claim. Although it is also worth noting that the majority of medical negligence cases get settled before they even reach the courts. That being said, a good lawyer can help you get the best settlement deal if you can prove any wrongdoing.

As you can see, there are clear differences between personal injury claims and medical negligence claims. The above are some of the main differences and how they differ in the courts. Remember, it is crucial you get yourself a good lawyer, particularly if you are filing a medical negligence claim.

Conveyancing: how to de-stress the process

The biggest purchase of your life is going to be property. This means you have to ensure you’re making the right choice. But how do you know you’re doing everything right? From choosing the right area to live in to appointing the right conveyancing solicitors, there is a great deal to focus on.

Timelines

When you’re looking to make a property purchase, knowing when you can expect to achieve certain milestones can be difficult. And this just adds to already high stress levels.

The entire situation will be more straightforward if you know what timeline you’re working to. From when you can expect an offer acceptance or counter offer to when you’ll receive survey results and, finally, when you’ll be exchanging contracts and picking up the keys, there is a lot to keep track of.

It is advisable to make a note of when to expect certain developments to be completed, so you know when the process is being delayed and when you need to start chasing things up. It is also recommended that you know which solicitors you are going to instruct prior to the actual property purchase.

Do your research

The right information can provide a powerful weapon, so use it well. Carrying out your own research into the area your chosen property is in will help you evaluate whether it’s really the place for you and whether you’re paying the right amount.

Before you make an offer, you should look into a number of aspects of living in that area. You can find out the crime statistics of the locality, right down to the specific crime and what street it happened on. It may turn out you don’t want to live in that area after all.

You can also check whether there is a significant risk of flooding. If your prospective home is a leasehold property, you should find out every aspect of that contract, from how much it would cost to buy the freehold to whether the service charge will increase annually. You will save yourself a great deal of anxiety later if you inform yourself early in the process.

The right survey

Carrying out the right survey will save you stress, and potentially money, later. If you have any concerns about the state of the property you’re interested in, it’s advisable to get the most comprehensive and thorough survey possible. This is particularly true for older character properties.

Once you know what you may have to deal with if you went ahead with the purchase, you’ll be better able to negotiate with the seller. You’ll also know what sort of work the property requires to get to the standard you want it.

The sooner you know the results, the sooner you’ll be able to evaluate whether you want to continue with your purchase. You don’t want to find out when it’s too late that you’re dealing with a serious structural fault.

If you need help in de-stressing the process of moving, the right conveyancing solicitors will be able to help make everything more straightforward.

Photo by William Perugini on shutterstock.com.

First4Lawyers launches new TV advertising campaign

First4Lawyers has launched its latest multi-million pound TV advertising campaign, featuring a new central character and highlighting why it only works with the best Personal Injury and Medical Negligence solicitors.

Led by a BAFTA-nominated Los Angeles-based director, 1,456 combined man hours were put in to produce 6.5 hours of footage for the creative new campaign. The pre-production process saw 520 hours, while 616 were worked by 28 people on the set over two days of filming.

First4Lawyers’ Personal Injury activity is seen more than 48 million times a month, while its Medical Negligence activity is seen and heard over 26 million times a month.

The marketing collective is currently one of only three legal brands in the UK that have a dedicated Medical Negligence TV advert, running an average of 2,100 times per month.

A complete advertising plan

First4Lawyers sees 41 million views per month of its Personal Injury and Medical Negligence TV advertising, while 4.6 million listeners hear its radio advertising across 65 radio stations in the UK.

A further 2.4 million readers see the collective’s newspaper advertising and 100,000 people see its online marketing activity per month, while 200,000 people see the brand on social media.

First4Lawyers’ website also sees visits from one in three people who click when searching the term ‘Medical Negligence’ on Google. The collective has runs over 11,300 variations of Personal Injury PPC adverts across almost 45,000 keywords and search phrases. These adverts are seen more than twice as often as the collective’s nearest competitor’s.

Medical Negligence PPC adverts are similarly effective for First4Lawyers. It runs 2,800 variations of PPC adverts running across almost 13,000 keywords. The adverts are seen almost three times as often as those of the firm’s nearest competitor.

Organic search is another successful marketing strategy for First4Lawyers. The firm ranks organically for more than 7,500 search terms – a 76% increase over the last six months. Organic visibility has increased 44%, the second highest growth registered in the sector.

First4Lawyers membership

For the cost of one month’s membership of the First4Lawyers Personal Injury panel, you could alternatively afford less than three adverts on ITV2 per day, six full page adverts in the Manchester Evening News or 7.5 days advertising at the top spot on Google for the term ‘No Win No Fee’. And you would be responsible for all the leg work.

Meanwhile, for the cost of one month’s Medical Negligence panel membership, you could purchase 1.5 adverts per day on ITV2, three full page Manchester Evening News adverts or just four days and 1.5 hours advertising at the top spot on Google for the single term ‘Medical Negligence’.

First4Lawyers’ Personal Injury panel members can enjoy 22-27 claims per month, with an average conversion rate of 69%. Medical Negligence panel members receive between 20-24 claims per month, converting an average of 22% into live cases.

Join the First4Lawyers panel

If your firm’s marketing could use a boost, First4Lawyers is ready to help. By joining the panel, you’ll maximise your marketing budget and enjoy consistent results.

Join the UK’s most seen legal marketing brand as it launches a brand new awareness-raising campaign and see a measurable return on your investment.

Why is content marketing better than traditional methods for legal SMEs?

For large legal firms, marketing is a relatively straightforward affair. But for SMEs, the need to be innovative and eschew tradition has never been clearer.

Many an SME legal firm will feel a tinge of envy at the comparative simplicity of marketing services for larger firms. With their well-known brand names, wide geographical reach and in-house marketing teams, the big players enjoy obvious advantages.

That does not mean smaller firms have not tried to market themselves, but the use of traditional methods has led to poor returns on investment.

Using analogue techniques for trying to reach clients in a digital age is always likely to be less successful. For instance, a newspaper advert is here today and gone tomorrow. Similarly, a billboard is constrained by physical location.

Moreover, there is little control over who gets to see these adverts; a host of uninterested people may pass a billboard while a more likely customer walks down a neighbouring street.

In contrast, digital content is by nature more accessible, without such limitations of time and place. But that is just one of its advantages.

Through content marketing, law firms and their digital partners can create great content and focus it more accurately on the people they want to engage with.

Based on the characteristics (known as personas) of the target market, content can be produced concerning the topics of greatest interest to them. The rule of seven suggests customers typically must be exposed seven times to a marketing message before buying; few will see the same newspaper ad seven times, but regular interesting online content can start a conversation to achieve this goal.

This effort can be further boosted by using search engine optimisation (SEO) for law firms, as the right keywords can direct readers to relevant content. Social media and email marketing can also focus more on particular target groups.

With this greater precision of digital marketing, the ROI is sure to be higher than that of traditional methods.

For some legal firms the use of modern techniques requires a shift from the ways of the past. Since old habits die hard and lawyers cannot be expected to do the jobs of marketers, it makes sense to work with partners who can apply the most contemporary and effective methods of communicating with target markets.

By Charlie Britten, BeUniqueness.co.uk.

Photo from Pixabay.

Government schemes for first-time buyers – which could you be eligible for?

First-time buyers – Did you know there are several Government schemes to help you get your foot on the property ladder? Our guide explains some of the main options available so you can work out if you are eligible and decide if any could benefit you.

1. Help To Buy Equity Loan

With a Help to Buy Equity Loan the Government lends you up to 20 per cent of the cost of your new-build home in England only. This means that you will only need a 5 per cent deposit and a 75 per cent mortgage to cover the rest. You will not be charged fees on the loan for the first five years.

To reflect the disparity in property prices across England, the upper limit for the equity loan in Greater London is 40 per cent. You can only use this scheme if you take out a repayment mortgage.

Who can apply?

  • first time buyers and homeowners purchasing a new build property costing up to £600,000.
  • In Wales, schemes apply to homes costing up to £300,000.
  • In Scotland the maximum threshold depends on the value of the property and when your application is completed.
  • In Northern Ireland there is a similar equity loan scheme available.

In order to qualify, you must not sublet the home or part exchange with your old home. You must also not own any other property when you purchase a home with a Help to Buy: Equity Loan.

This scheme is run by Government-appointed agents who guide you through the property purchase.

2. Help To Buy ISAs / Lifetime ISAs

Help To Buy ISAs

Help to Buy ISAs allow first time buyers to save up to £200 per month towards a deposit on a new home. The government then boosts these savings by 25 per cent. The maximum government bonus available is £3,000 for which you would need to have saved £12,000 in order to receive. The bonus is available to purchase homes costing up to £450,000 in London and up to £250,000 elsewhere.

Pease note, the scheme is only available until 30th November 2019. You are allowed just one Help to Buy ISA per person. Here is some more information about Help to Buy ISAs:

  • You can save up to £1,200 in your first month – £200 per month thereafter.
  • When you withdraw from your ISA to make a deposit on a home, a 25 per cent bonus is added.
  • A minimum of £1,600 must be saved to receive a bonus.
  • The largest bonus available is £3,000.
  • If two first time buyers purchase a property together, they can both use an ISA.
  • Your property must cost up to £250,000, no more (£450,000 in London).
  • You don’t necessarily have to use the ISA for a deposit. You can make withdrawals but would not get the bonus.
  • Help to Buy ISAs cannot be used with buy-to-let mortgages.

Lifetime ISAs (LISA)

A Lifetime ISA (LISA) is a scheme devised to help you buy your first home or save for retirement. You must be over 18 years old and under 40 years old to open one. Here are some of the basics.

  • You can make deposits of up to £4,000 every year and the Government will add a 25 per cent bonus
  • It can function as a savings account and accrue interest.
  • Alternatively, it can work like a stocks and shares investment.
  • The maximum bonus possible is £33,000.
  • You can use your LISA to help you buy your first home providing it costs £450,000 or less.
  • If you’re buying with another first-time buyer, you can both use LISA savings and bonus’

3. Right to Buy

Originally introduced in 1980, the Right to Buy scheme gives council tenants in England the opportunity to buy their home at a discount. Currently, the maximum discount available is 70 per cent off the purchase price. This is up to £108,000 in London and £80,900 elsewhere in England.

This scheme is available for those who have lived in a council owned property for 3 years or more. The property must be self-contained and your only/main residence.

Joint applications are allowed, meaning you are able to buy your home with a fellow tenant or your partner. You can also make an application with up to three family members as long as they have lived in the property with you for the past 12 months.

You will not qualify if you are or are about to be made bankrupt, if a court has demanded that you leave your home, You are a council tenant or you have “Preserved Right to Buy.”

4. Right to Acquire

The Right to Acquire initiative is similar to the Right to Buy scheme, the difference being that it applies to housing association tenants in England rather than council tenants. It was created in 1996 and updated in the Housing Act 2004. It means tenants have the right to buy their property at a reduced cost.

5. Shared Ownership

Shared ownership is a scheme whereby you purchase a share of your home from your landlord. This will usually be the council or a housing association. You will then rent the remaining share.

You will need to take out a mortgage which can be between a quarter and three-quarters of the home’s full value, paying a reduced rent on the share you don’t own. You can go on to buy a bigger share in the future – up to 100 per cent.

Anyone who has a household income of less than £80,000 (outside London) or £90,000 (inside London) can buy a home through shared ownership. Military personnel get priority over other groups and the scheme will apply across England only. To apply, speak to the Housing team at your local council or your housing association.

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