23 March 2021 | Comment | Article by Katherine Allen
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.
We’re working with APIL - a non-profit organisation representing injured people - to raise awareness of its ‘Rebuilding Shattered Lives’ campaign.
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.
Katherine Allen, Partner and head of our travel litigation team, wants to play her part in helping to shake off the stigma and misinformation surrounding PI claims.
As a Partner - which essentially means I am an experienced lawyer with responsibility for managing the junior lawyers in my team - I act for people who have been injured in accidents that occur outside of England and Wales; people who have travelled abroad on business or on holiday.
I first began to work in this area in 1999 purely by chance! I wanted to move from London to Birmingham and a firm doing this sort of work had a vacancy. I quickly fell in love with the work – it is intellectually stimulating, can be very challenging but it is very rewarding to help people who suffer injuries in a country that they may not be at all familiar with.
Very often a significant injury results in the injured person, and often those closest to them, losing their ability to make the same choices about the way they live their life that they would have made before the injury. Getting an outcome for a client that gives them enough compensation to get back their ability to make the same or similar choices is always very satisfying.
In my field of travel litigation, there has been lots of negative press about gastric illness claims abroad, and specifically about the tactics some claims companies have employed in encouraging tourists to make these claims.
Many people equate those companies with personal injury lawyers and so we are often labelled “ambulance chasers”. A good personal injury solicitor will review all of the evidence and assess the merits of the claim and will not want to pursue a claim which does not have merits and is not supported by evidence.
If someone suggests to me that I am an ambulance chaser, I give them an example of the sorts of cases I deal with, where I have carried out a merits assessment and have advised that the claim is likely to succeed. I ask them to think about what they would want for a close relative if they were injured in similar circumstances. By the end of the conversation, they generally agree that they would want the rights of their loved ones to be protected, that they would want to make a compensation claim to ensure that protection could continue for the rest of their loved one’s life and that they would want that claim to be pursued by a dedicated, caring and committed professional.
I very much hope that APIL’s campaign redresses that balance when it comes to personal injury claims. Press activity often focuses on the amount of money awarded and does not often explain how that figure has been reached and why the compensation is vital in building that person’s life.
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.