Looking Back At 2017 – A Legal Year In Review

As we get to the end of 2017, the clinical negligence and personal injury teams at Harold Stock & Co, thought it would be a good time to look back over the last 12months, as well as looking forward to 2018, when the firm will celebrate 40 years of working with and supporting individuals and businesses in Greater Manchester, from our Mossley, Stockport and Failsworth Offices.

Celebrations for The Stockport Team

At Stockport, one of our team, Debra Woolfson, is celebrating three years with the Firm. During that three year period, the compensation that she has recovered for clients has now exceeded £3.5 million.

Debra says:
“Having worked in national practices for most of my career it has been a pleasure to work with a local firm who can provide even better legal advice and support to clients whose lives have been changed by injuries caused by traumatic events or by mistakes made as a result of medical treatment.

“Local knowledge certainly helps. I now have more time to help with getting clients back on the road to recovery, sorting out physiotherapy and counselling when the local health care budgets don’t stretch to offering the treatment needed.  The most up to date tech support , such as orthotics or prosthetics, can also be sourced and funded”.

Law Changes Will Adversely Affect Injury Claims

The members of the team including our Personal Injury Specialist, Kirsty Dunn have many years experience in supporting clients through what can sometimes be a daunting legal process.  Our aim is to make sure that you can concentrate on getting back to how you were with the least disruption possible at the same time as getting you the compensation that you are entitled to.

Over the last twelve months the Government appear to be giving in to the pressure from insurance companies to pass legislation, that in our view will lead to the removal of the right to proper compensation for whiplash injuries that many of us have suffered in car crashes that have not been our fault. 

The changes will see compensation payments being slashed by up to 90% and a number of legal firms have decided that they will not be able to assist clients when these rules bite.  We will continue to help and are happy to discuss any such claims with you. 

Positive Changes in 2017

There have also been some positive changes.  Earlier this year, the Government reduced the discount rate that lawyers use to work out how much can be recovered for future losses from 2.5% to -0.75%.  Whilst it is likely that the rate will be changed again, until it does, we are applying the -0.75% rate meaning that compensation payments will be more realistic acknowledging that the idea is that the compensation should last for the whole of the injured persons life and should cover any expenses that are likely to be incurred for aids and equipment and care. 

The change is most significant for young claimants.  For example, if our 18 year old client is claiming care for the rest of her life she will see the value of her claim increase by almost 300%.  Any claim that may be affected by a further change in the discount rate needs to be reviewed and pushed to a settlement before that change occurs and if you think that your case needs to be reviewed please do not hesitate to call us to chat through your options.

Your Right to Decide

Moving on to your right to choose the lawyer that supports you, a lot of us have Before the Event Legal Insurance Expenses Cover that we pay a bit extra for on our household, car or other insurance policies.  Insurers have tried to restrict our right to choose who represents us by including within policies, a term that suggests that they can dictate the position up to the time when formal court proceedings are started.  This year the Court have decided that this restriction on the right to choose is against EU directives.  This is an interpretation of an EU directive and whilst it is likely that the UK will form part of a non-EU European Grouping once we leave the EU, the decision is likely to remain binding on insurers operating in the UK, so if you have paid for legal cover you can decide who you will have in your corner.

Medical Negligence

Finally, whilst our local hospitals and doctors are a vital part of our every day lives caring for us with skill, empathy and understanding, mistakes do happen and when they do it’s important that lessons are learned and that compensation is paid to minimise the effects of those mistakes. 

Lawyers and victims of medical mistakes are often blamed for depleting precious resources by making claims against the NHS when things go wrong, however this month a Government Committee has acknowledged that it is in part health bosses who have created a culture which is costing the tax payers millions of pounds. 

The report acknowledges that a “prevailing attitude of defensiveness” from our NHS Trusts has helped to quadruple clinical negligence costs.  We have many examples of cases where our clients have very clear claims that should be accepted quickly but payments are not made for years as the NHS Trust and its lawyers push us all the way to trial. 

An example of this is a client who took his leg brace in to be mended at his local hospital.  A few days later the brace failed causing him to fall and suffer a fracture that left him immobile and caused him life long problems that he wouldn’t have had otherwise.  The Trust argued that it wasn’t their fault only admitting responsibility just before the Hearing before the Judge started, some two years after his fall.  Even then, it took another 12 months, and another Hearing date to be fixed, for them to agree the amount of our client’s compensation.  The delays caused by the Trust and its lawyers not only left our client without his compensation for much too long but also added to the stresses and frustrations of what is already a very difficult situation. 

Hopefully the report will result in some changes and appreciative of the effect of the delays on those that need help, not more stress

Looking forwards to 2018 we are sure that there will be many more changes, but we shall continue to encourage the Trusts that we deal with to move more quickly and to share best practise in the handling of mistakes so that lessons can be learnt, so that our clients and their families get back as far as is possible, to how they were before they were unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Contact Us for Enquiries

We have years of experience in helping clients to get answers to the often confusing explanations given to them when something goes wrong, whether that is at an Inquest or via the Trust’s complaint procedure moving on to making a legal claim if things can’t be sorted out. 

We hope that 2018 sees a reduction in those being injured on our roads and at work, and that there are less mistakes made in our hospitals, but we will be here if things do go wrong and you need some advice. 

We wish all our past, current and future clients all the best for a happy and healthy 2018.

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