Lawyers who represent seriously injured people need to be aware of their rehabilitation needs, as well as their legal rights.
This is the message from Matthew Hall, a solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors, the largest trade union law firm in the UK, which provides support to CSP members and their families.
He told Frontline that specialist serious injury lawyers need to consider not only the legal merits of their clients’ cases, but also their immediate rehabilitation needs – as this could have an impact on both their long-term health and the outcome of their case.
‘In practical terms, this means making early contact with the responsible party’s insurer, setting out a client’s case and requesting that they fund treatment and rehabilitation,’ he explained.
‘A proactive and engaged approach to litigation can make a real difference not only to the outcome of a case but also to the long term health of the client.
‘If insurers can be persuaded to recognise their liability and responsibility early on or are forced, through tactical litigation, to face up to it, it can make a tangible difference.’
Thompsons Solicitors provides support to CSP members, and their family members, who experience injuries at work or elsewhere – including those who have serious injuries with long-term medical consequences.
The firm recently settled a claim for a CSP member’s relative who suffered life-changing injuries following an accident in 2016.
In this case, the injury occurred when a driver lost control of a tractor they were driving and collided with a set of traffic lights, causing the pole to bend and hit them on the head.
‘Their injuries included a serious head injury, orthopaedic injuries, and a profound psychological injury, which left them extremely anxious around roads and in public,’ said Mr Hall.
‘They ended up unable to return to work, needing help both around the house and when going out.
‘In this particular case, our approach secured an early admission of fault and the insurer agreed to fund rehabilitation.’
Interim payments from the insurer also allowed the solicitors to put a multidisciplinary team in place, which included a brain injury case manager, a physiotherapist, a consultant neuropsychologist and an occupational therapist.
‘The team considered not only our client’s injuries and treatment needs but also their employment, interests and hobbies, leading to a bespoke plan, taking into account both short and long-term goals,’ said Mr Hall.
‘Working together, they saw significant improvements in our client’s cognitive skills, mobility, independence and psychological wellbeing.
‘And with their help, she has made excellent progress and is now in much better health moving into the future.’
He added that the case was eventually settled for a significant sum, which factored in payments for future treatment needs, ongoing care and support and calculations regarding future loss of earnings.
‘And as the claim came through the CSP the member’s relative also kept 100 per cent of the compensation, with no deduction for legal costs, which any non-union firm would have made deductions for,’ Mr Hall explained.
‘If you or a member of your family becomes seriously injured as a result of an accident in the UK or abroad our recommendation is, of course, that you can use the experts at Thompsons through your CSP membership.
‘But whoever you use, it is essential that the lawyer understands the injury and its consequences, and has in-depth knowledge of serious injury rehabilitation.’
Mr Hall said Thompson’s specialist lawyers always take an active role in the rehabilitation process by attending multidisciplinary meetings with the treating team.
‘Effective rehabilitation not only helps our clients to return as far as possible to their pre-accident life, but it also provides the treating team with opportunities to more accurately and more quickly assess long term needs and prospects for recovery.
‘That in turn means we can value the claim earlier and - if the insurers play ball - settle quicker, reducing the length of time the client has to worry about an ongoing legal claim.’
Thompsons Solicitors, which was founded in 1921, operates under a guiding principle of only ever acting for injured people and employees, and never for insurers or employers.
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