Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations

The above quote is often used by bikers to celebrate getting out on the open road and paints a wonderful image, but even the bikers in our team at Harold Stock & Co appreciate that the road is not often the problem; it’s the other road users that can make the destination less attractive.

Whilst bikers are not generally known to complain about the odd knock and the occasional bruise or graze, unfortunately, the shocking figures for last year show that more than 450 bikers ended up in our local hospitals.  The NHS statistics have 75 going to Salford Royal Hospital (where they have a specialist head injury unit), 76 to hospitals under the Pennine Acute Hospital NHS Trust banner, 74 to central Manchester, 68 to south Manchester, 53 to Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh, 39 to hospitals in Bolton, 39 to Stockport and 25 to Tameside and Glossop Trust. 

Although the figures have dropped a bit in the wake of the “Think Bike” campaigns, this may be because more motor cyclists are taking advanced riding tests to protect themselves from others who might not see them on the road, or might not appreciate that braking on a motorbike does not happen quite as it does in a car.

On top of the 319 bikers killed, there are over 5,500 seriously injured and over 13,000 who suffer minor injuries.  We feel that something must be done about these figures.  Whilst in the 40 years that Harold Stock & Co have been helping local people with all aspects of the law, our serious injury team appreciates that bikers are fed up with car drivers suggesting that they “came from nowhere” and were “riding like a bat out of hell”.  In the many claims that we have dealt with, some of which have been rejected by other less specialist teams, the patterns repeat themselves and there are suggestions that bikers should stick to the side of the road, should have braked more quickly (without the inevitable stoppie or lowside) or should not be filtering (which is legal). Despite the fact that you have dipped headlights, a loud can and a helmet brighter than Rossi’s, to make sure you are as visible as possible. 

We are used to working out speeds of impact, preparing site line diagrams, organising reconstructions and gathering the evidence necessary to prove that a collision has been caused by the fault of another, rather than by the biker whose journey has taken him or her to hospital, rather than to the beautiful destination that was anticipated when they started their ride out.

Unfortunately, our local papers are full of motor cyclists being left with life changing injuries when collisions have occurred, even on the less rural roads.  We can’t prevent accidents happening but, in many cases, the term accident is misleading.  If there is an element of fault on the part of the other driver, this is something we will investigate and discuss with you.

We have recently represented a biker who was unfortunate enough to suffer a leg amputation whilst riding to work on our local roads.  As is often the case, he was driving along the main road and the car driver came out of a side road.  Responsibility was initially disputed but, with engineering evidence and detailed witness statements, a large payment on account was obtained to get our client the adapted accommodation that he needed, the prosthetics assistance and the psychological help that allowed him to maintain contact with his family and his young children and to get back to a different, but as fulfilling a life, as before the crash.  His final settlement was a substantial seven figure sum that, with appropriate financial advice, should secure his future.  Whether he or other family members won the argument about spending part of the settlement on a new bike, and adapted prosthetics to allow him to ride again is still unclear! 

If you or a family member has been unfortunate enough to have seen the darker side of motorbike riding, whether you have Solicitors or not, there is nothing lost by giving us a call for a chat.

Kirsty Dunn – Chartered Legal Executive

John Byrne – Accounts Manager & Treasurer of the National Association for Bikers with a Disability (NABD)


Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion – case summary

After a fall down some badly constructed stairs in a department store in Manchester,  Audrey needed complicated shoulder surgery at a time when she should have been fit enough to help her husband cope with his deteriorating health.

The department store initially tried to pass the buck back to Audrey (suggesting that the fall wouldn’t have happened if she’d been more careful!) The first firm of solicitors representing her didn’t seem to progress her case effectively (and eventually she was advised that they had closed down). Very sadly, around this time, Audrey’s husband passed away.

Audrey wasn’t sure it was worth proceeding with her claim but with an office very close to Audrey’s home, we were able to meet with her whenever she needed to go through the paperwork and to discuss the ridiculous suggestions made by the other side. At the same time, we talked through what would help our client to look after her house and garden taking in to account the physical restrictions her shoulder injury brought with it – for example, getting quotes for the cost of a gardener (and artificial grass) as well as for window and a house cleaners.

Audrey had the patience to stick with the advice we gave in turning down several offers that weren’t enough to compensate her for the pain and suffering she had put up with so far, or for the cost of employing people to support her active life going forwards

Debra Woolfson , a director and solicitor with over 30 years experience in personal injury and clinical negligence handled Audrey’s claim and says:

“Audrey’s stoicism, enthusiasm for life and her good humour, at what must have been a really difficult time for her made it a pleasure to help her to get a settlement that reflected the seriousness of the injury and should give her the support she needs to overcome any physical limitations that resulted from her fall”

Debra recently received this letter from Audrey


If you would like a second opinion from our personal injury experts, please do not hesitate to contact Debra Woolfson or Kirsty Dunn on 0161 456 5012 or fill in the contact form on this page.



Cut whiplash injuries with the headrest test

Whiplash injuries and claims can be avoided if drivers and passengers do a simple test this Injury Prevention Day (15 August).

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) with support from motoring safety experts Thatcham Research, is urging car users to protect themselves by making sure their headrests are in the correct position.

 “Half of all car crashes in England result in a whiplash injury and some of these could be avoided, along with the resulting compensation claims,” said APIL’s president Brett Dixon. APIL is a not-for-profit organisation which campaigns to prevent needless injuries.

“Your headrest can’t do its job if you haven’t adjusted it to fit you,” said Brett. “It’s like leaving the batteries out of a smoke detector. “To test your headrest is very simple,” Brett explained. “Make sure it is as close to the back of your head as possible, ideally touching. The top of the headrest should also be as high as the top of your head. Place your hand on top of your head to check.

“It is easy to forget, but we hope drivers will make a point of doing the headrest test this Injury Prevention Day,” said Brett.

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research said: “Whiplash is the most common injury in car accidents, and the correct position of the seat’s head restraint is the key factor in protecting people from these types of injuries. We’d recommend that the next time you get in your car, check that the headrest is positioned as high as the top of the head. Where possible, it should also be tilted as close to the back of the head as possible. Touching the head is best. In cars where the head restraint is not adjustable, making the seat more upright can help.

“It’s also really important to remember that whiplash can occur in the back seat as well. So remember to adjust for each rear occupant as well and  check this for every journey. No one passenger is the same and it needs to be tailored to fit them on every journey.”

If you have been injured in a car accident or any other accident and would like advice from a professional yet approachable lawyer, please do not hesitate to contact our specialists, Debra Woolfson or Kirsty Dunn.


Meet our Personal Injury Team

Kirsty Dunn image

Kirsty Dunn

Chartered Legal Executive

T: 01457 835597


Debra Woolfson image

Debra Woolfson


T: 0161 456 5012


Stick or Twist – Is it a gamble to change solicitor?

As a specialist team with over 40 years experience in getting our clients the support and compensation that they deserve. We have seen a nervousness about asking for a second opinion. Whilst it has become the norm to change car insurer if you can find better cover, we are sometimes less confident about checking that we are getting all that we are entitled to when pursuing a claim for injuries suffered through no fault of our own.

Changing solicitors is as simple as calling a member of our team for a chat. If we can support you to get the best result possible, then all that needs to be done is to complete a simple transfer form with you and we will sort the rest.

Why would you need to consider changing solicitor? Here are some of the reasons we have seen:-

  • You have never met your solicitor.
  • Your solicitor doesn’t take your calls.
  • The firm you are using is closing down.
  • The person dealing with your claim appears inexperienced.
  • The solicitor acting for you doesn’t believe you can win.
  • You don’t feel that you are listened to – You feel part of a process rather than the effects of your injuries and losses being considered in the unique way that they should be.
  • You feel you are being ‘pushed’ to settle before you are fully recovered.
  • Your solicitor was chosen for you by your insurer, as you have legal expenses cover.

There is nothing to lose by speaking to us, there is no charge and you are not committing yourself to anything. The examples set out below may reassure you that we can, as your local solicitors, with specialist knowledge help you to sort out your claim.

John, a local factory worker, was involved in an accident that made back problems he had always suffered from much worse. As he had accident cover with his house insurance, those insurers chose a solicitor from a national firm for him. Unfortunately, they ignored his previous back problem and kept calling him to get him to agree to settle for £4,000, on the basis that his back symptoms were a new problem, ignoring his concerns. John called into our office and after discussions completed the form that enabled us to get his file which showed that he was right to question the advice that he had been given. With more detailed medical investigations, and after getting John some physiotherapy we were able to negotiate a settlement for his injuries and losses at over £10,000. John has continued to turn to Harold Stock & Co for all of his legal needs and says:

“Kirsty and the team treated me as a person, not a number. She was available at times that suited my shifts. She was quickly able to sort things for me and got a great result.”

John has referred family members and friends to Harold Stock & Co, having confidence in the service we provide.

Sharon, a company director, had suffered really poor treatment at her local hospital which affected her health and her ability to work. She decided that it was important to make a claim as she didn’t want others to go through the same trauma and pain that she had experienced. She initially chose a solicitor by responding to an advert on the TV. She never met her solicitor and became concerned when her calls were not returned, and when she did speak to her solicitor he didn’t seem to understand how her deteriorating health had affected her work. Sharon knew a member of our staff and met up with our medical negligence specialist, Debra, who got all the financial issues sorted with the assistance of an independent accountant. She also prepared detailed evidence so that the full effects of the delayed diagnosis, that the hospital accepted was its fault, were clear to everyone. Her settlement was nearly 12 times the amount that it had been suggested she settle for before the transfer. Sharon commented:

“Thank you for all your hard work in getting the settlement. It is very much appreciated and you have restored my faith in solicitors and the legal system”.

If you would like a second opinion in relation to your current claim, please contact Debra Woolfson or Kirsty Dunn on 01457 835597 or email info@haroldstock.com

The General Election will not stop big changes to personal injury awards

Whichever party forms the next Government, pressure from insurance companies 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%.

For example, if you suffer a whiplash injury that causes you pain for between 1 and 2 years a Judge today may award you between £3,000 and £6,000. Next year the   proposed tariff scheme for the same injury would involve a   payment of only £1,820!

On top of that the insurers won’t be made to pay the costs for a lawyer to help you in getting therapy, medical evidence and in listing your losses so that your claim can be maximised and settled quickly. Any legal costs would have to be deducted from your compensation.

As there is little that can be done to prevent the new rules on road traffic/whiplash claims from being introduced next year, we are keen for anyone who has been involved in an accident to get in touch for a free chat.

Act now to avoid receiving a lower  compensation award that may not cover all your losses.

If you currently have a Solicitor acting on your behalf and are unhappy with them or would like a second opinion, please contact a member of our team to discuss your case. 

Our Personal Injury Team 

Debra Woolfson
0161 456 5012

Angela Doggett
01457 835597

Kirsty Dunn
Chartered Legal Executive
01457 835597

Who’s Watching You?

Are you a regular user of social media? Covert video surveillance has been used by insurance companies for a long time in claims for compensation arising out of an accident or other injury. With advances in technology, our team of experienced specialists have seen insurance companies increasingly turn to social media and the internet as a method of surveillance using Facebook status updates, You Tube videos, Instagram and Snapchat posts and photographs together with tweets as a way to defeat or reduce a claim for compensation. It pays to remember that the internet is not private. Continue reading…

Discount Rate Change Should Help Those With Life Changing Injuries

From 20th March 2017, after a wait of 16 years, victims of accidents and medical mistakes will finally have their compensation worked out in a way that should help them to cover the costs of their rehabilitation and expenses going forwards.

This week’s announcement by the Ministry of Justice that the discount rate applied to compensation awards in personal injury cases will go from 2.5% to minus 0.75% is welcome news for those who have been seriously injured through no fault of their own. Continue reading…

Ministry of Justice set to impose £5,000 small claims limit

Personal injury lawyers had their worst fears realised last week when the government confirmed it wants to press ahead with the raft of personal injury reforms flagged up in George Osborne’s last autumn statement. The consultation on personal injury, which includes a number of potential changes to the small claims limit and a removal of general damages for soft-tissue injuries, is expected to be published imminently. Continue reading…

Government U-turn on Personal Injury Reforms

car crash

You may have heard that over the past year the government proposed to make further reforms to personal injury claims. One of these reforms was to effectively remove the right for people to claim for low value whiplash claims in an attempt to reduce the number of fraudulent claims being made for low value injuries and enable insurance companies to pass on savings made from not having to pay out on these low value and potentially fraudulent cases.

In a dramatic U-turn, the government has set aside its further plan to make reforms. Why? It has become apparent that previous reforms which slashed legal costs payable for all types of personal injury claims under £25,000, involved huge savings for insurance companies who do not appear to have passed on the savings to customers by reducing premiums. Figures obtained from the Association of British Insurers show that insurance claims in 2015 totaled £5.8 billion compared to £8.3 billion in 2010. Have those savings been used to reduce insurance premiums? It would appear not as the average premium has risen by over 10% Shocking news, we know!

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and The Law Society have continued to fight, believing there should be access to justice for all and they also continue to call to the government for a ban on cold calling and spam texting in relation to personal injury claims. We would welcome this ban. As Solicitors, we have rules which prevent us from cold calling and yet, as a profession we are the ones who bear the brunt of the criticism for the unscrupulous methods employed by other companies. 

New i-Size Child Car Seat Regulations



What do you need to know?

New child car seat regulations were set to be introduced this December for children under 12 years of age or under 135cm in height. The changes have now been delayed until next year and are expected to come into force in March 2017.

There is no need to panic, you are not required to purchase a new alternative car seat for your child, or a new car for that matter! The current regulations are expected to run alongside the new regulations until around 2018.

However, you will not be able to use a backless booster unless your child is taller than 125cm or weighing 22kg or more. Currently, children around 15kg are able to use backless boosters, i.e., children as young as 3 years of age.

The new regulations, in comparison with the existing regulations, make some striking changes, three of which are noted below:

  1. Car seats will be purchased for children in accordance with their height and not their weight.
  2. The new i-Size car seats only fit in vehicles with ISOfix points.
  3. Babies are now to be carried in rear facing seats until they are 15 months old.

At present not all cars have ISOfix points, especially older models but the general idea is that in the future all child car seats will fit in all cars.

Whilst you are not required at this time to have a new regulation i-Size seat, you can still take safety advice from the new regulations. For example, keep your baby in a rear facing child seat for as long as possible up to the age of 15 months, or until their weight exceeds the limit for their current seat or if their head begins to protrude over the top of the seat.

So why implement new regulations, when your child is safe under the existing regulations?

Common injuries which may occur to us all, as a result of a road traffic accident, involve the neck, chest and head.

Neck: The new changes are due to research which shows that toddlers up to 15 months of age do not have very strong necks. Therefore, in keeping them in a rear facing seat, in a front end collision, their neck would be less vulnerable.

Chest: For younger children a five point harness or impact shields are best as they distribute the forces applied to the body in a crash. For older children a high backed booster allows the adult seat belt to be positioned correctly across the body.

Head: Children’s skulls are weaker than those of adults and the best way to reduce the effect of a crash on their head movement (certainly in a side impact crash) is to have a child seat with side impact protection, sometimes known as ‘wings’. For this reason, whilst booster seats are legal at the moment they are not recommended car seats, as they provide no back or side protection.

If you are involved in a road traffic accident, your child car seat may have become weaker, although not visibly damaged and therefore may require replacement. If in doubt replace it anyway.

For further advice and assistance if you have suffered injury arising out of a road traffic accident that was not your fault, please contact Kirsty Dunn on 01457835597 or by way of email to kmd@haroldstock.com

Kirsty Dunn Chartered Legal Executive 01457 835597 kmd@haroldstock.com

Kirsty Dunn
Chartered Legal Executive
01457 835597