Yes, you can sue your personal injury or clinical negligence solicitors (or, more likely, the paralegal who ran your claim) if they under-settled your personal injury claim and you haven’t got the compensation that you deserve. This type of claim is known as a”Professional Negligence” claim, because you are suing a professional. If your lawyer has under-settled your claim, then you should sue them so that they do not botch someone else’s claim and so that they learn from their errors and, more importantly, so that you ultimately get the right amount of compensation that you deserve.
Frequently, paralegals in claims factories have so many hundreds of claims, and are so poorly trained, and so inadequately supervised, that they do not have the time to meet their clients, to listen to their clients, and therefore the lawyer doesn’t appreciate the impact of the accident upon their client. And as a client often only uses a personal injury lawyer once in a lifetime, then it is common that they don’t know what to expect and which questions to ask.
At Truth Legal, we specialise in representing personal injury clients who have been let down by the law firm which is handling their claim and they want to switch solicitors. Usually, we get to take over the claim before it is settled and therefore we often save the other solicitors from a professional negligence claim. However, if the claim is settled, because it is almost impossible to re-open a settled claim, if you think that you didn’t receive enough compensation from your personal injury claim, then please contact us and we will review your settlement at no cost to you. If you have a reasonable claim, then we will offer you a No Win, No Fee agreement.
There are many reasons why a claim might have been under-settled. Here are the top reasons why a personal injury or clinical negligence claim is under-settled. Do they apply to you?
The top 6 reasons why a personal injury or clinical negligence claim is under-settled
Here at Truth Legal we listen to our clients at length and consider all the injuries, symptoms and losses that our client believes have been caused by an accident or treatment. This is because we spend a great deal of time talking to our clients. Many claims factories, in which paralegals have hundreds of claims, do not have the time to listen to their clients and therefore the full extent of the injuries are frequently unknown to the lawyer. Some injuries are easier than others to prove, but it is important for a lawyer to be able to detect such injuries and losses and obtain the right evidence to prove that they have been caused by the initial accident or treatment provided.
Without question, this is the main reason why a claim is under-settled, particularly if the medical evidence is complex, or if there were pre-existing medical conditions, and if the client didn’t recover as anticipated by the medical expert. Some “claims managers” or paralegals routinely instruct GP experts for all sorts of conditions when a GP is clearly the wrong type of expert. A clue is in the title: a “General Practitioner” is of course a generalist. You shouldn’t go to a generalist lawyer for a personal injury claim: similarly in most claims a General Practitioner is the wrong expert.
Often, we find that the personal injury lawyer hasn’t asked the right questions of the medical experts. Had a penetrating, thoughtful question been asked to a medical expert, then perhaps the value of the claim would have increased considerably. Often when we take over a claim from another firm when our clients change their lawyers, we ask the right questions of the experts, because we appreciate the impact of the injuries and we know how to analyse the medical evidence.
Sometimes the medical expert is the wrong type of expert for the specific injuries and, if this is the case, the task of the personal injury lawyer is to steer the expert with questions, hoping that they recommend that another medical report from a different type of expert is obtained. By way of example, if a person suffers superficial burns to the arm and a bang to the head, which has caused nauseating headaches, then in the first instance a GP expert or an Accident and Emergency expert ought to be instructed, but that expert is unlikely to be able to adequately comment on the head injury. In this example, it is likely that a neurological report is needed. If the GP or Accident and Emergency expert doesn’t in the first report recommend a report from a Consultant Neurologist, then it is the job of the personal injury solicitor to ask a probing question.
If you are a client of ours, then if you have still not recovered from your injuries in line with the medical expert’s reports, then we usually recommend that our client returns to their own treating doctors for more input. We do not pressurise you to settle. Medical experts in personal injury claims usually mirror the specialism of the doctor who had been providing care. Therefore, if the client/patient hasn’t received the proper care from their own doctors, then it is unlikely that the personal injury medical experts will be able to form a proper conclusion on the injuries.
Finally, if, say, one medical expert recommends a report from a different medical expert, then we have seen examples where this clear recommendation has been missed by the paralegal. In such cases, if this instruction was missed, and it has caused the client to receive less compensation than they deserved, then the aggrieved client should be able to sue their solicitor for under-settling their personal injury or clinical negligence claim.
In many personal injury claims, quantifying the special damages – the compensation awarded for financial losses, care and assistance and future losses – is straightforward. However, if the client’s earnings records are complex, or if their projected, future earnings and career progression hasn’t been analysed, or if there is likely to be a deterioration in the client’s condition in due course because of the accident, then the Schedule of Loss may have been incomplete which has led to a substantial under-settlement.
Frequently, we see claims in which a seriously injured client hasn’t met with their personal injury lawyer, nor had many conversations with them. In such cases, the lawyer and the client don’t know each other very well. The better the relationship between lawyer and client, the more the lawyer will understand the impact the accident has had on the client’s life and work. See how to work with your personal injury solicitor.
In more complicated personal injury claims, the personal injury lawyer should consider having a meeting with a barrister and the client in order to prepare the Schedule of Loss. And particularly for seriously injured clients, consideration should be given to the barrister preparing the Schedule of Loss, rather than the solicitor drafting it. A personal injury client should be confident that all their financial losses, care and assistance and future losses are all stated in the Schedule of Loss and supported by documentation.
If you ask five personal injury solicitors to provide their advice on a given scenario it is likely that a client would receive five slightly different opinions. This is because personal injury law is vast and ever-changing. Therefore, in complex and higher value claims, the personal injury lawyer ought to consider instructing a barrister to provide an advice on the merits of the claim and/or the value of the claim. Barristers usually operate under “No Win, No Fee” agreements, just like their instructing solicitors. If a barrister has reviewed the claim, then the client ought to have more confidence in the advice provided.
Personal injury law and clinical negligence law are complex areas of law. The law in these fields is forever changing. There is a danger that unqualified paralegals and claims managers do not have a sufficient grasp of the law to allow them to assess liability. In such cases, a client’s claim might be erroneously rejected by the law firm. In other cases, the lawyers might advise their client to surrender a large percentage of the claim when this shouldn’t have been the advice, leaving the client with only a percentage of their compensation.
By way of example, if an unlucky client was injured in an accident at work and the value of the claim on a 100% basis is £150,000, then if the lawyers incorrectly advise the client to accept a reduction of 20% for contributory negligence (the accident was partially the client’s fault), then the injured client will be awarded £30,000 less than they should. If the advice was flawed, then the client might be able to sue their previous solicitors for £30,000.
In extreme cases, an overworked lawyer or unqualified claims manager might miss a court deadline. Depending on the lateness of the delay and the seriousness of the error, the claim might be struck out (killed) by the courts. In such cases, a professional negligence claim ought to be relatively easy to bring against their former lawyers.
Time limit to sue a solicitor
The law surrounding the time limit for issuing a claim for under-settling a personal is quite complex. Usually, a client would have six years from the date of negligent act in which to issue court proceedings. The date of the negligence is often difficult to calculate. In addition, a client isn’t always aware that they may have a professional negligence claim until some time after the claim has settled. Therefore, if you suspect that your claim was under-settled, please contact us immediately for a free, no-obligation consultation with a specialist personal injury solicitor, not a paralegal.
Funding your claim against your solicitor
If after a consultation with us we are of the view that you have a reasonable claim against your former solicitors and that the claim is in time, then we are likely to offer you a No Win, No Fee agreement to pursue your claim. Alternatively, you might have the benefit of Legal Expenses insurance on your home insurance and your insurers might support your claim. At Truth Legal we often use our client’s Legal Expenses Insurance at no cost to our client.