I think I’ve instructed the wrong solicitor for my spinal injury claim – what should I do?
Sustaining a spinal cord injury (SCI) is a life changing event and one that is extremely overwhelming especially in the first-year post injury, not only for the person injured but their friends and family as well. For some, amongst all the medical treatment and worry about the future, there is the question of whether their injury was caused by someone else’s negligence and whether they should bring a claim. Most people have no knowledge of what bringing a claim involves so don’t know what to consider when selecting a Solicitor.
Settling a personal injury or clinical negligence claim for spinal cord injuries can take years and requires the solicitor to have an in-depth understanding of spinal cord injury and its impact. Selecting the right Solicitor can impact on the outcome of your case.
The spinal injury team at Bolt Burdon Kemp have accepted numerous instructions over the years from clients who started their claim with another firm of solicitors. So, what are the common reasons for change?
Lack of experience
A lack of experience in spinal injury claims can manifest itself in many ways.
Spinal injury claims arising from clinical negligence such as cauda equina syndrome or negligent surgery are often very complex and require specialist knowledge.
Some cases can involve a clinical negligence and personal injury claim. For example, a client is involved in a road traffic accident and then subsequently mismanaged in the hospital. Some Solicitors only have experience of dealing with personal injury or clinical negligence and so don’t have the requisite experience to deal with the whole claim and the interplay between the two areas of negligence.
Some Solicitors simply don’t have experience of spinal injury and the secondary complications a SCI brings such as bladder and bowel incontinence and pressure sores. Without this level of understanding a Solicitor is at risk of under settling any claim.
Poor client care
At Bolt Burdon Kemp we pride ourselves on our client care record. We routinely work in teams to ensure that clients have several people who can support them at any one time. Sadly, some clients who have transferred their files to us report that they have had little to no contact with their previous Solicitor and were not able to speak to them or reach them. For us this is unfathomable and simply unacceptable. Spinal injury claims often run for several years and your solicitor should be someone you are comfortable talking to and someone who responds promptly!
Lack of progress
Some Solicitors simply fail to progress cases. The reasons for this are many; for some it’s a matter of having too much work resulting in Solicitors ‘firefighting’ rather than conscientiously progressing the case; for others not having the requisite experience can mean a Solicitor keeps pushing your file to the end of their to do list. The impact on a client however is huge and delay in progressing a claim means delay in a client obtaining much needed compensation or rehabilitation.
Below are some real life examples of cases that have come to the spinal injury team and the impact we have been able to have on the cases:
Case Study A
- I have acted for a Claimant who was thought to have sustained a minor injury when in fact they had sustained a significant spinal cord injury. We were able to properly assess the injuries to obtain the correct evidence to ensure that the Claimant had access to a full care regime and rehabilitation to support them for the remainder of their life.
Case Study B
- The previous Solicitors has failed to obtain an interim payment when liability for the accident had been admitted. I have recently acted on a case where no progresswas made by the Solicitors and 8 months after being instructed I have managed to obtain evidence and secure an interim payment of over £500,000.
Case Study C
- The client had never met the Solicitor and when he tried to contact the Solicitor he was always unable to come to the phone and took days to respond to an email. The client felt his case was not being properly considered and advanced. We were instructed and have been able to meet with the client and advance the claim and arrange funding for his rehabilitation.
If you have concerns that the Solicitor currently acting for you isn’t the best solicitor for you then I would always encourage clients to look into changing Solicitors and to look for a Solicitor that specialises in spinal cord injury. Whilst every client’s circumstances are different, the process for transferring a case from one Solicitor to another is relatively straightforward and your new Solicitor will support you all the way including notifying your old Solicitor of the change.
Once claims are settled that is it, so it is imperative when you bring a negligence claim that you make sure that the person who is representing you is the right one for you. Whatever you do, make sure that the person acting knows who you are, you can contact them, and they have experience of your injury and are taking on board your comments. Failure to ensure this could impact on your claim.
If you have any concerns about your case please do not hesitate to contact myself or the BBK Spinal team.