As a brain injury lawyer, taking instructions from new clients who have sustained a traumatic head injury can be difficult and emotional. Seeking legal advice often comes at a time when there are stressful circumstances giving rise to that need. A recent meeting with a new client who has sustained a serious head injury bought the issues around the selection of an appropriate legal advisor into focus.
Legal expenses insurance referrals
Often, a victim will contact and instruct lawyers through the legal expenses cover attached to their home contents insurance policy. They pay for an additional benefit of their policy and given that, more often than not, they are dealing with insurance companies which are large household names, they trust that they will be provided with the service they deserve. Sadly, as in this instance, this is not always the case.
The individual in question had been instructing lawyers via his home contents insurance policy to represent his interest for the best part of a year. In the entire period his lawyers had been handling his case, they had not spoken to him once. They had never taken a post traumatic amnesia history. They had never discussed rehabilitation. Even when they had received a document completed by the client identifying his symptoms (which took him weeks to struggle to complete without his lawyers assistance), they failed to pick up the phone to say thank you and that they were sorry that he was going through such a life changing event, and offer ways in which they might be able to help and provide support. This level of poor service is not only, in all likelihood, negligent, but on a basic human level is intolerable and unacceptable.
Unfortunately, a mass-market approach is often associated with legal expenses insurance referrals like this, and the associated firms and individual lawyers would most likely have little or no experience in dealing with head injury cases. They can also often be located hundreds of miles away from the victim with no opportunity for face to face meetings.
Life changing situation
Sadly, this client is not alone. Earlier this year a case handled by Hatch Brenner settled for £250,000. The very same case started out as a legal expenses referral to a mass-market law firm. That client was being pressurised to accept a settlement of £10,000. Thankfully she was sufficiently strong willed to reject that advice and follow through the courage of her convictions, knowing deep down that she had undergone a fundamental change to her pre-accident self. She came to Hatch Brenner and her case was properly prepared which led to the final settlement reflecting her life changing situation.
Everyone has a legal right to select their own legal advisor rather than having one imposed upon them by their insurer. This is contained in the Insurance Companies (Legal Expenses) Regulations 1990. Many of us do have legal expenses insurance cover on our home insurance policies. Sometimes it is helpful and sometimes it is not. It is however only one option.
The new client mentioned above found Hatch Brenner via Headway - the Brain Injury Association, who hold an approved Solicitors list. He had previously never heard of Headway until he undertook to do his own research through frustration. There is help out there. For more details about Headway, visit headway.org.uk. If you would like to discuss your specific circumstances with one of our Brain Injury experts, contact Colin Cook on 01603 660 811, or at firstname.lastname@example.org