How difficult is it to listen?

Zander was injured in a motorcycle accident when a tractor driver turned right across his path. He fractured his wrist and injured his hip.

After reporting the incident to his insurer, he was swiftly appointed a panel solicitor who visited him at home.

Liability was admitted by the tractor driver’s insurers early on and as NFU are among the more forward-thinking insurers, they suggested the appointment of an experienced case manager to help Zander recover from his injuries.

It all seemed to be going so well. However, a few months in and Zander was still experiencing pain and discomfort in his hip. That’s when it all went horribly wrong.

Despite telling his solicitor he was in pain, his complaints seemed to be ignored and dismissed. Zander got the distinct impression that his solicitor wasn’t interested in him and was more interested in a swift settlement.

His panel solicitors instructed a medical report and an Orthopaedic surgeon came up from England to see Zander in offices in Glasgow. He then wrote his report without commenting on Zander's hip injury.

Zander again asked his solicitor to question the report, but once again, his cries for help fell on deaf ears. With relations strained and Zander at a loss to understand why his solicitor didn’t want to listen to him, he approached Motorcycle Law Scotland.

We asked for the file and paid the previous solicitors their outlays confirming we would deal with their fee on conclusion. On receipt of the file, we were horrified. No statement had been taken from Zander even though the solicitor had seen him at home. Worse still, the instruction of the medical report didn’t even mention his hip pain.

We got to work and instructed a specialist orthopaedic surgeon who said he could not give a full opinion until Zander had undergone surgery on his hip. However, with a stretched NHS, what could we do?

Knowing there was an experienced case manager appointed, we contacted NFU and asked for private surgery. NFU agreed and Zander was admitted for surgery.

Thereafter, we updated the medical report addressing in full the cause of the hip pain and the surgery required to repair the injured hip.

Armed with all the evidence, we were able to settle the case within 12 months of instruction and that included getting Zander the surgery he desperately needed.

What shocked us was the panel solicitor’s file and the complete lack of engagement with Zander who was crying out for help. There were no further meetings offered other than the initial one to bag a referral from an insurer. All client correspondence was brief, by email and with little direction. The underlying current was clearly one of disbelief of Zander's complaints of pain and a desire to settle the case without considering rehabilitation or help for Zander.

As if that wasn’t enough, the panel solicitor then threatened to sue Zander for their fees despite agreement to wait until conclusion and that threat was made at a time when Zander was recovering from surgery.

Thankfully, this case had a happy ending, but the outcome could have been so different. In my opinion, there is little place in our profession for any solicitor who does not listen to their client. Insurers must stop the practice of referring cases to panel solicitors as I witnessed in this case a solicitor concerned more with their fee that with their client.

This is what Zander had to say:

"For all motorcyclists reading this, please pass the message on and don’t let your insurer appoint a lawyer for you no matter how straight-forward a case may seem. It's just not worth it."

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