On 15 December 2023, my claim finally settled at a joint settlement meeting. Due to my somewhat unique insight as a practising serious injury solicitor and the injured party in a life-threatening road traffic collision, on conclusion I was asked on numerous occasions, from my solicitor, defendant solicitor/insurer and both barristers: what could we have done better?
I have taken some time to consider this question and wanted to share my thoughts on my claim process.
From the very start, I was well looked after. My solicitor and the defendant’s representatives worked collaboratively in order that I received the best rehab available. What I don’t understand is why sometimes this is not the case. Why does it become a battle? Surely, it should always be the client at the heart of what both claimant solicitors and defendant solicitors do? Unfortunately, as we still see too often this is not always the case. For the most part, a claimant is put in this position through no fault of their own, and at times I expect they must feel like a number rather than a human being. Luckily, this was not the case for me.
My first case manager, Jayne Andrews, was amazing. She was constantly in contact and there when it was needed, I will never forget this. I then had Louise Richardson and Liz Haunch from Bridge Case Management who were equally outstanding. Words can’t describe how vital a good case manager is through this process.
I also had support from DayOne Trauma as I struggled psychologically. They are an amazing charity, and I would encourage anyone who has been through trauma to contact them either for support or as I do, providing others with peer support. It is a two-way process and helps me as much as it helps the people I speak to.
I had NHS input as well which was good, but unfortunately, as we all know, the NHS lack funding and private input was needed to fill the gap. The carers, physiotherapists, and consultants I saw were all fantastic.
I must say, that if every defendant solicitor/insurer dealt with claims the same way, the whole experience would be much better for all involved. Consistency should be key.
Was the process easy?
Yes, in the sense that I knew what to expect. I had realistic expectations when it came to timescales, the number of experts I would need to see, and the appointments I needed to attend. Did it make it any easier? I would probably say not. The whole process is stressful, even for someone who knows what to expect, the constant fatigue, phone calls and keeping track of everything. I remember in the early days not knowing how I would have time to do anything else as it was constant, and for me and a lot of clients it is never ending. Rehab is now part of weekly routine.
It does slow down, there are dips where you can in a sense take a back seat, but it is always there in the back of your mind, you can’t get away from it. By the time we neared the end, I was ready for it to be over.
In the grand scheme of things, my claim didn’t take long to conclude. It was less than three years and I know that this isn’t always the case. Even for me, I would have struggled with the litigation process and how it is all consuming.
Was I happy when it concluded?
I was satisfied, but I felt numb. So many people have asked if I am happy with the outcome and it isn’t a straightforward answer. I am happy it is over, and I am satisfied with where it ended up, but you can never be happy. My life changed completely and if I could go back in time, I would. No amount of compensation can take away the pain and the constant reminder. Yet, the way my claim was handled – not needing to have a battle every time I needed surgery, or physiotherapy, or an interim payment – did make it easier. I would encourage all parties to take a similar more consistent approach to ultimately do what is right by the client. Put yourself in their shoes. If it was you, how would you like to be treated?
It’s taken me a while to put this together. It is hard to find the words but I will be forever grateful to my solicitors Edel Selby and Matthew Itson and their paralegal Jade-Alicia Pollitt, my barrister Chris Walker from Devereux Chambers and the defendant’s team, John Cook from Ageas Insurance, Paul Stevens from Keoghs Solicitors and Jonathan Grace from Deans Court Chambers. The whole experience was much easier because of these people, and in short, no, they couldn’t have done anything better.