In the early part of 2018, the personal injury team at Penningtons Manches has been asked to take over the conduct of several significant personal injury claims from other firms of solicitors. In all these cases, the injured claimants have sought advice either from a local solicitor or in response to advertising and have been offered a no win no fee agreement. Over time they have become concerned at either the lack of expertise of their current solicitors and /or the lack of attention to detail and progress. While the initial injuries have seemed relatively straightforward, as time has passed the implications and effects of the injuries have been significant. Most claimants feel that they have been encouraged to accept early offers or settle claims early when they have ongoing symptoms and have no idea of the long term impact on things such as their ability to work or respond to treatment. They have either been personally recommended to approach Penningtons Manches for a second opinion or have been signposted to the firm as a specialist via organisations such as the Law Society or the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.
Philippa Luscombe, partner in the personal injury team, comments: “Frequently the real impact of a serious injury does not become apparent until a year or longer after the accident occurs. This means that personal injury claims may not be able to progress quickly because of the need to assess the full consequences, which can be frustrating for clients. It is however absolutely crucial not to agree a settlement until the long term prognosis and effects of injuries are known. The claimants who have approached us have been concerned that they have ongoing difficulties, a limitation in work capacity or a need for further treatment which is not reflected in their settlement.
"While we are not always able to take over a case, depending on the stage it has reached, or would necessarily change the approach currently being taken, it is fair to say that our experience is that the pressure on costs in the personal injury field and the use of case handlers with limited experience and supervision means that some cases are being significantly underinvestigated and undervalued. We have therefore been able to take over conduct of cases and achieve a substantially better outcome than suggested to claimants. Where we do think that we can assist, we normally agree a transfer of files and funding so that claimants see no change in their costs position and liability – although this does depend on the cooperation of the existing firm of solicitors."
It is important that claimants consider the following points when instructing solicitors on a personal injury claim: