Take a minute to close your eyes and imagine a typical day in your life. Maybe you’re dropping your children off at their school, taking your daily lunchtime walk around the block or driving to the supermarket to do your weekly shop.
When you open your eyes, imagine that world has been turned upside down. You or someone you love has been seriously injured.
That’s the reality for many families when they, or someone they love, has suffered an unexpected injury; it turns their lives upside down in the blink of an eye.
If a person is injured needlessly, they should obtain specialist legal advice so as to consider access to justice, compensation and the ongoing support they may need in order to rebuild their life but in recent years many misconceptions have been allowed to develop in this area.
APIL created ‘Rebuilding Shattered Lives’ to try to refocus attention on the real situation: that too many people suffer needless injuries; that these injuries are preventable; and that the people who suffer them must be able to have access to the support they need to rebuild their lives.
Cari Sowden-Taylor, Partner in our Neurolaw team, wants to play her part in helping to shake off the stigma and misinformation surrounding PI claims.
I always wanted a job where I would be able to help people. I was fortunate that my first seat of my training contract was with the Hugh James Neurolaw Catastrophic Injury team and immediately knew that I had found the area of law that I wanted to practice in.
Around the same time, one of my closest friends suffered a serious spinal injury and I became even more fascinated with this area of law and recognised the devastating impact that a life-changing injury can have. Seeing the treatment and rehabilitation opportunities that can arise through pursuing a claim whilst working closely with clients to help them rebuild their lives led to me wanting to specialise in this area of law.
Today, I am a Partner in the Neurolaw/ Catastrophic Injury team, representing clients who have sadly sustained life-changing brain and spinal cord injuries. While my job is ultimately to calculate and secure compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity and financial losses (both past, present and future) incurred as a direct result of an accident, I also help to organise a support network of specialists (such as therapists and clinicians) to ensure that my clients get the opportunity to make the best possible recovery. The sooner I am instructed to act on behalf of a client, the sooner I can help secure funding for specialist rehabilitation.
I enjoy liaising with case managers, therapists, support workers/ buddies to ensure that bespoke support packages are put in place to help my clients rebuild their lives and to enable them to regain independence and confidence as much as possible. As a specialist solicitor, I ensure that the information obtained from the support network is provided to the medico-legal experts which helps them to have a better understanding of the injured person’s day to day needs. They can then prepare a detailed report setting out their opinion regarding what the injured person has been through, make recommendations in terms of treatment and they will also comment upon what they may need for the future.
A large proportion of my time is spent reviewing reports and then liaising with counsel and calculating the value of the claim before trying to negotiate settlement of the claim out of court. If settlement out of court is not possible, I prepare the claim for trial where a judge makes a decision regarding the value of the claim and the amount of compensation that should be paid to the claimant. If my client lacks capacity to manage their financial affairs, I will also liaise with our Court of Protection team to ensure that their property and financial affairs are managed appropriately.
For me, the most rewarding part of the job is when you achieve a great result for a client after working with them, sometimes for years, and you feel as though you have helped them through the toughest period of their lives. Knowing that you have helped to build a support network for them and securing the funds they need to move on with the next chapter is gratifying.
Without a doubt, the most challenging part is when you want to arrange specialist rehabilitation for a client who has suffered a life-changing injury and desperately needs it, but you face difficulty with funding the rehabilitation they need if, for example, there are liability disputes.
It is also hard to deliver bad news, for example, if an injured person doesn’t have legal grounds to pursue a claim. When those occasions occur, I always try to signpost people to specialist charities that may be able to provide support.
Sadly, over the years there has been a lot of talk of ‘compensation culture’ and as a result Personal Injury (PI) lawyers have sometimes received bad press. Most PI lawyers have chosen to work in this area because they genuinely care and want to help clients after their lives have been torn apart.
I am proud to work with a team that goes above and beyond to achieve the best results in order to support clients who have suffered life-changing injuries. If someone has been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, they should be properly supported and compensated for their loss; whether it’s loss of earnings because they can no longer work or do the job they were doing before, or they need specialist treatment or support from carers because they are no longer independent. Injured people should also be compensated for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity they have suffered.
I really hope that APIL’s campaign and the animation will help people to recognise just how much support a personal injury solicitor can provide to injured people and their families.
I represented the couple featured in the Rebuilding Shattered Lives animation (scroll down to view) a few years ago and it was a privilege to help them after a devastating motorcycle collision. They were really suffering when I first met them, but we managed to access a large interim payment which meant we could then put much-needed specialist rehabilitation in place. We arranged for them to have a support network around them which comprised of a case manager, occupational therapist, neuropsychologist, support workers, Court of Protection Deputy and I had regular contact with my client and his wife every week over several years which meant that a close relationship was developed. They knew that they always had support no matter what situation or crises arose and even after the litigation was finalised, as a firm we continue to provide them with regular support through our Court of Protection team.
I can honestly say that I love my job. It is very rewarding to build a relationship with a client and help them rebuild their life after a devasting injury. As a specialist catastrophic injury solicitor, no day is ever the same. It is varied and challenging. I also enjoy working with charities and clinicians and feel privileged to work closely with such passionate and kind people who put others first.
I hope that the perception of personal injury lawyers will change with the help of APIL’s campaign and no one will ever feel ashamed to consider pursuing a claim after a life-changing injury.
You can find out more about APIL’s ‘Rebuilding Shattered Lives’ campaign on the website – including a video case study featuring the story of one of our clients – or search #RebuildingShatteredLives on Twitter.