Penningtons Manches’ personal injury team has recently settled a claim for a client at almost double their previous solicitor’s assessment of the amount that could be won and their advice to settle.
Amy Milner, an associate in the personal injury team, explains: “We are increasingly seeing clients who are unhappy at the level of settlement for their injury claim that they are advised to take - and they often recognise that they are being advised to settle before their long term prognosis is clear. We were able to settle this claim by a more thorough investigation of the client’s injuries and their likely impact on his future.“
Our client sustained injuries to his ribs, upper back, neck, right elbow and left ankle following a road traffic collision. Soon after the accidence, he instructed solicitors who sent a formal letter of claim to the defendant’s insurers, securing an early admission of liability. They commissioned a medico-legal report from an orthopaedic surgeon fairly soon after the accident and, following an examination, this expert considered that our client would fully recover from his injuries by 12 months post-accident. On this basis, our client’s previous solicitors put forward an offer to settle his claim.
However, our client was unhappy with his previous solicitors’ assessment of his claim as he felt that the medical report did not address all of the injuries that he had suffered, their ongoing effects or his developing psychiatric symptoms. At the time of being advised to settle, the 12 month expected period was nearly up but the fact that his symptoms had not improved as expected was not taken into account. Given these concerns, he obtained a recommendation from a barrister to approach us to take over his case and explore matters further.
Upon receipt of the papers, it was immediately clear that there were numerous gaps within the expert evidence and our client’s injuries were more severe than the expert had commented upon. We immediately wrote to the defendant’s insurers withdrawing the offer made by the previous solicitors and sought to commission our own expert evidence.
Our client was examined two years after his accident by our expert who had concerns about our client’s ongoing difficulties and further tests/examinations were carried out and reports obtained. Having fully investigated our client’s injuries, we negotiated a settlement at almost double the previous offer made.
Says Amy Milner: “On the face of it, our client’s injuries appeared relatively straightforward but his previous solicitors should have undertaken further investigations when he had not recovered from his injuries after 12 months as expected. He had also developed further problems since he saw their expert. Following our own investigations and our experts’ assessment of our client’s injuries, it was clear that our client’s injuries were more severe than first anticipated and that he was unlikely to make a full recovery.
“These types of claims should never be considered straightforward and there are real risks involved in obtaining medical evidence too soon after an accident and then settling on the basis of that evidence when a prognosis cannot be certain. People know their own bodies and, when our client approached us, he knew that something was still wrong. It took time to complete our further investigations but the end result was worth it when we were able to secure an excellent result for him.”