Frustrated by panel solicitor

On the 14th October 2018, Chris Barrett set off early from Hawick on his Harley Davidson heading north to rendezvous with his wife who had entered a running event in the Highlands. He stopped for lunch at Loch Lomond around 1.45pm. This was to be Chris’ last memory before he was involved in a road traffic collision on his motorcycle on the A82 at the Bridge of Orchy Hotel, Oban.

Chris’ next memory was lying on the road feeling horribly confused. Police Scotland informed him that he had been in a line of traffic when a driver had turned across his path to enter the Bridge of Orchy Hotel. The driver had misjudged the gap and collided with Chris causing him to be thrown from his Harley Davidson.

Extent and impact of injuries

Due to the extent of Chris’ injuries, he was helicoptered to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital for treatment. He suffered a mild traumatic brain injury along with multiple right-sided flail rib fractures, a collapsed lung and soft tissue injures to his spine. After seven nights in hospital, Chris was discharged home.

Getting the right result

Through his brokers, Carole Nash, he was referred to a Panel Solicitor. Following an admission of liability from the driver’s insurers, funding was secured for chiropractic treatment. After 25 sessions, there was little improvement in Chris’ back pain and he felt frustrated and detached from the claims process. He had difficulty getting his point across to the panel solicitor and was concerned that his injuries were showing little sign of improvement in the months following the collision. Despite his concerns, the panel solicitor instructed a medical report through a medical agency. Chris was examined by an Orthopaedic Surgeon who was not provided with a detailed letter of instruction. Unsurprisingly, the resultant report produced was poor and contained glaring omissions. In our experience, panel solicitors often instruct reports through agencies with the medical practitioners often producing thousands of reports a year. Large elements of Chris’ injuries were overlooked and there was little or no comment on his traumatic brain injury. Chris also felt he wasn’t being listened to. He seemed unable to get his point across to the panel solicitor. Frustrated and detached, he made the decision to seek help elsewhere.

Why are Motorcycle Law Scotland different?

At the time Chris instructed us, he was completely lost and could not see an end in sight. Although he returned to work with Royal Mail in February 2019, it was evident to him and to his GP that the psychological trauma had made it impossible for him to continue with his pre-accident level of activity. Large, vital parts of his care and rehabilitation that should have been picked up by the panel solicitors had simply been overlooked. Unfortunately, Chris had to retire early from his position with Royal Mail in April 2019 due to the ongoing effects of the injuries sustained.

On receiving instruction to take over his case, we immediately set to work and recognised day one the importance of keeping Chris informed. He needed to be placed at the centre of the claim rather than sitting on the side lines. After we recovered the panel solicitor’s file, we were shocked to discover that they had only uncovered part of Chris’ story.

We pride ourselves on really getting to know our clients and Chris was no exception. We spoke at length to not only Chris but also his wife and his employer. The panel solicitors had merely undertaken a “painting by numbers” exercise as part of their “claims process”, something we find to be completely unacceptable.

Through our investigations, it became clear that Chris was no longer the driven and determined individual he had been pre-accident. His brain injury and psychological trauma were more devastating than his physical injuries and all of that had been completely overlooked.

By getting to know Chris, we were able to tailor a rehabilitation package for him that suitably met his needs. We were quick to instruct an experienced Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon. Shortly thereafter, we instructed a Neuropsychologist who confirmed that Chris had sustained a mild traumatic brain injury with profound consequences. Treatment was recommended by way of cognitive behavioural therapy. The expert also agreed that Chris’ psychological trauma and brain injury had led to his retirement at an earlier date than would have been expected.

We were able to provide Chris with the support and care he needed in order to aid his rehabilitation. Our communications with him were clear and constant which put his mind at ease. By getting to know Chris, we ensured that his claim was correctly valued and that his rehabilitation was specifically tailored. We ultimately secured Chris a settlement that accurately reflected the true extent of his injuries.

In our opinion, had Chris remained with the panel solicitor, the true extent of his injuries would never have come to light and, as a result, his case would have been grossly undervalued.

Chris’ situation is not uncommon. So many injured motorcyclists simply accept their insurer’s offer of a panel solicitor, not realising that the choice of legal representation is theirs and not their insurers. In our experience, many claimants find themselves completely lost and often frustrated by feeling so detached from their panel legal representative. Chris’ case alarmed us at the outset because of the lack of investigation into the extent of his loss. If you don’t listen carefully to a client, you will miss something and will run the risk of under-settling a claim. This can have devastating consequences as an injured motorcyclist relies entirely on his or her legal representative to advise on valuation or level of compensation.

At Motorcycle Law Scotland, it’s simple, we listen carefully and work with you to the conclusion of your case. It’s not a process, it’s tailor made legal support from experienced motorcycling lawyers. That’s what makes the difference.

Here is what Chris had to say,

“I was appointed a solicitor by my insurance company after a bad motorcycle collision in Scotland. They added to my stress enormously by not representing my interests properly. It seemed like a racket where everyone gained except me. Motorcycle Law is a very different operation. They looked after my interests and did everything they could to help me. In the end, I had a far better result by switching to them. It was the best thing I could have done. If you find yourself in a situation where you need representation after an accident in Scotland, please use their services. Don't use the solicitor your insurance company sends you to. I can't emphasise it enough. Use them with complete confidence.”