Colin Young (50) was severely injured in a motorbike collision in 2016. He spent over 100 days in hospital undergoing 12 operations, totalling more than 50 hours of surgery.
Over that time Colin’s wife, Nina, contacted his insurance company to report the incident and his insurer allocated one of their panel solicitors. When Colin was fit enough to be able to speak to the appointed lawyer, he was left feeling that he was no more than a case number and one of many to be dealt with as expeditiously as possible.
By chance, while in hospital, Colin started speaking to another motorcyclist, whose strong advice was to use a specialist solicitor: only people who know the roads as motorcyclists do, can truly understand how to get the best for him. It was advice Colin also received from friend and fellow Dunedin Chapter member, George McGuire:
“I wanted Colin to have the best possible support and had heard some real horror stories from other motorcyclists. We’ve all heard of arguments with lawyers over a replacement helmet or torn leathers and getting the right lawyer is important – and, in Colin’s case, even more so.”
George knew Brenda Mitchell of Motorcycle Law Scotland, who is one of a small group of specialist motorcycling lawyers practising in the UK, through the Thunder in the Glens Rally. He added:
“I’d heard Brenda talk about the cases she has dealt with in the past. She’s up-front, a biker herself, and I knew I could trust her to give us good advice. That’s what I got and I’m pleased that Colin now has a specialist lawyer fighting his corner.”
George’s conversation with Brenda led to Colin’s case being referred to Mark Hipkin of Alderson Law in Whitley Bay on Tyneside as the collision took place across the Scottish border in the North of England and needed to be handled under English law.
“The appointment of a specialist lawyer has made a huge difference.”
Colin felt that his future had been pre-determined by his first appointed lawyer and that the outcome of the case would be based on how quickly it could be resolved rather than on its own merits.
“I’m self-employed and, without any real discussion with me, my first lawyer decided that I would never work again. I felt I was being processed through a machine and my case was being bent towards what would be the easiest route for my lawyer.”
In contrast, Colin found Mark to be, not only highly experienced in the technical aspects of a motorcycle collision, but also a passionate lawyer with a clear understanding of his needs. “Mark is thorough, very personable and speaks to me and my wife with complete directness.”
Between them, Mark and Brenda have dealt with many motorcyclists who have suffered severe and life changing injuries and are acutely aware of the person and the impact the accident can have on them and their families.
Mark explained: “I spoke with Colin immediately in hospital and travelled the next day on a 90 mile round trip to see him. I spoke with Nina, his wife, and explained how I felt his case should be handled. I told them I would deal with it myself from start to finish. No call centre representation. Colin and Nina agreed to switch instructions, which is very easy. I have also travelled the 190 mile round trip to his home on his discharge from hospital. It is really important to see any client at home. They are more at ease and I can fully discuss their care arrangements for the future, face to face. Each case is important and different. In Colin’s case, for example, I knew that he wouldn’t be able to ride his Electra Glide Harley again, so I pushed for a full replacement value cheque, not a repair that he would have to sell on as a ‘damaged, repaired bike.’”
Brenda added: “It is important to remember that the choice of legal representation is up to the motorcyclist and not his or her insurer. Because of the unique nature of motorcycle accidents, injured motorcyclists should instruct an independent specialist motorcycle accident lawyer who understands motorcycling. Often the first reaction of an injured motorcyclist is to simply accept a lawyer appointed by their insurer because so much else is going on and they mistakenly believe it’s the insurer’s right to appoint a lawyer. That’s just not true and it can lead to disastrous consequences. It’s one of the most important decisions you will make so don’t let anyone else make it for you, especially not an insurance company.”
Brenda Mitchell and Mark Hipkin are both avid motorcyclists and have held motorcycle licences for over 30 years. As Personal Injury Lawyers of vast experience, and operating in different legal jurisdictions, they are part of a small network of specialist lawyers who focus solely on representing injured motorcyclists and scooter riders.
White Dalton, based in Aylesbury, covers London and the South and Mark Lampkin of Lampkin & Co, based in Chester, can cover central England and Wales.
Scotland: Brenda Mitchell, Motorcycle Law Scotland
North & East England: Mark Hipkin, Alderson Law LLP Solicitors
West & Central England/Wales: Mark Lampkin, Lampkin & Co Solicitors
South of England: Andrew Prendergast, White Dalton