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4th Jul

Aston Knight Solicitors have successfully recovered a high value settlement for a client failed by a large national personal injury firm.

Mr T suffered significant spinal injury whilst working as a soldier in a military hangar.

He initially instructed a large national firm who profess to specialise in military injury claims. Regrettably, despite that firm professing to have such a specialism little progress was made in his case and he was left having to chase them regularly for updates. Not only was virtually no progress made, they unfortunately failed to issue court proceedings within three years of the accident date.

Failing to issue court proceedings within three years of an accident generally means that a claim cannot continue i.e. no compensation can then be recovered.

To compound matters, they failed to properly investigate this case and as a result provided him with negative advice i.e. that his claim would not have succeeded anyway.

Fortunately for him a contact of his knew Aston Knight Solicitors and so referred him to us to see if we could help.  Following a very detailed review of the case we came to the view that the case did in fact have reasonable prospects of success and although failing to issue court proceedings within the three-year limit had placed the client in a very difficult position, the law allows for cases to still be brought after that period in particular circumstances. In such circumstances the courts will look at the case overall and decide whether it is fair for a case to be brought after the three-year period, considering the impact on either party of doing so. It was our view that we had good arguments in favour of the case continuing given that the evidence in the case was unlikely to have changed significantly in the period since the expiry of the three-year point.

We therefore issued court proceedings and sought permission from the court to bring the case after the three-year period. Although the Ministry Of Defence’s solicitors initially strongly resisted this, shortly before the court hearing they agreed to a settlement on the basis that the case can continue in return for a 20% reduction in the client’s damages. Therefore, the actions of his first law firm effectively cost him 20% of his claim value.

After settling the case against the Ministry of Defence we therefore brought a separate claim against his first solicitors for that 20%. Whilst this was initially resisted, ultimately negotiations took place and a strong settlement of £800,000 was obtained.

James Winterbottom, the solicitor who dealt case, commented:

“Whilst this was an excellent result for the client, and will make a tremendous difference to his quality of life, sadly situations like this are all too common in the personal injury sector today. We receive numerous file transfer requests each year and it is very often the case that the files we review, including from large and supposedly reputable national firms, are in a poor state. This file was a classic example whereby the client felt a false sense of assurance from being with a large national firm whereas inspection of the file revealed grossly inadequate conduct. Even basic enquiries and steps had not been taken and perhaps the more concerning thing here is that it was only because this client had a connection to our firm that all of this was exposed; there will doubtlessly be hundreds or even thousands of other clients who have been represented by that firm who have received equally poor service. A further factor here is that the firm in question operates a consultancy model whereby the solicitors are not employees working in an office with usual levels of supervision and suchlike; they are, rather, self-employed consultants working remotely and generally without much supervision or oversight.

The case therefore highlights the importance of looking carefully at a firm’s previous success record rather than just on the fact that it is a larger firm and also not being afraid to seek a second opinion, or perhaps even a third opinion. It also perhaps underscores the dangers of remote working and consultancy models: these models often maximise profits for law firms in making savings in office and supervision costs but in the absence of suitable oversight disastrous situations such as this can go unnoticed.”

Please feel free to get in touch should you wish to discuss a matter with us.  We offer a free, no-obligation and confidential initial consultation for all potential personal injury and clinical negligence matters and are happy to take on cases from other firms including failed/closed cases.


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