Don't use insurers' panel solicitors, it could prove costly

Roundabout on Westwood Road, East KilbrideOn the morning of the 20th September 2018, David Mullen was riding his motorcycle to work in East Kilbride. He was established on a roundabout on Westwood Road, when a driver failed to give way, entered the roundabout and knocked David off his motorcycle. As a result, David sustained a severe fracture to his right wrist. He also suffered soft tissue injury to his neck and right hip.

David’s insurance company referred him to their panel solicitor to take on his personal injury case and that’s when it all went horribly wrong. It seemed to David that he was part of a process, especially when correspondence seemed to revolve around form filling. Eventually, David was told an offer had been made but it was too low. The panel solicitor advised raising a Court Action. No sooner had that been done, a second offer was received. David was told in no uncertain terms to accept that offer in full and final settlement of his claim, despite the offer being still well below what the solicitor had advised would be a reasonable result. Not knowing anything about how injuries were valued, David accepted the advice and his case was settled. 


David always felt rather let down and thought the offer seemed low but what could he do? He was no expert in the quantification of damages and he did not feel he could challenge the lawyer who had advised him to accept. David was aware that once an offer had been accepted, he couldn’t ask for any more, but it played on his mind that his claim may have been under-settled.

A while later, David came across Motorcycle Law Scotland on Facebook and decided to get in touch. He sent a message and we immediately responded. After hearing the extent of David’s injury, we asked for the panel solicitor’s file.

We were horrified to find that there wasn’t a single statement from David on the file. Not only that, the instruction of the medical expert seemed to be based another form filling exercise. No follow up had been requested from the medical expert who had confirmed that David’s wrist fracture was so serious that he would develop arthritis in later years. David had been told to accept an offer that we considered to be less than half of the true value of his claim.

We took on David’s case against the panel solicitor for a ‘loss of opportunity’ as we believed David’s case had been significantly under-settled. 

We spent time with David to ascertain how his injuries actually affected his day-to-day life. We instructed a specialist upper limb orthopaedic surgeon to provide a report and opinion. The detailed instruction of a specialist surgeon was important given David’s comparatively young age and profession which required him to use a keyboard for long periods of time. Further, no investigation had been made by the panel solicitor in relation to David’s favourite hobbies such as gaming and playing the piano, both of which required dexterity in both hands.

We obtained photographs of the significant scar to David’s wrist following the surgery that he had needed post-incident; something he was very aware and conscious of. The panel solicitor failed to discuss with David the option of having scar revision treatment.

We were convinced that David’s case had been grossly under-settled, so we intimated a claim against the panel solicitor. The claim was dealt with by the Law Society of Scotland’s professional indemnity insurers. It was a lengthy process, but we made sure that David was kept up-to-date and understood what he was entitled to and why.

After much negotiation and threat of litigation, we eventually received an offer we could recommend to David. The offer was more than double the original valuation. Thankfully for David, he had the courage to get in touch with us as he wasn’t sure about his original settlement. We could clearly see what had gone wrong. You cannot represent injured motorcyclists and achieve the correct level of settlement using a process driven by form filling. Everyone is an individual and no two injuries are the same.

Our message is to never allow your insurer to appoint a lawyer for you. It’s your choice not theirs and don’t be fooled by, “It won’t cost you anything,” as it could cost you at least half the true value of your claim. Good independent lawyers act on a ‘no win no fee’ basis and will fund your case start to finish, only charging a fee on success. 

Here's what David had to say about Motorcycle Law Scotland:

"I can't speak positively enough as to just how professional and caring Brenda, and I have no doubt, all members of the entire firm are. I only regret not being in touch with them in the first place. If you are injured in an accident on your motorcycle and it's not your fault - THIS is the firm you need to speak to, nobody else. You couldn't be in better hands. Thank you.”

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