A claim for compensation for professional negligence is not entirely the same as pursuing an action for personal injury. Any claim for compensation for professional negligence is expressed to be a claim for the lost opportunity to obtain compensation against the original defendant. That means there are some differences in how the claims are pursued, as can be seen in the examples below.
In a case recently handled by Chris McKinney, a personal injury specialist partner in our serious injury team, the claimant had originally instructed another firm of solicitors to bring a claim for personal injuries sustained as a result of a fire stemming from a faulty electrical product.
The previous solicitors failed to issue court proceedings within the 10-year limitation period from the date of supply of the product in line with the Consumer Protection Act. They further failed to obtain adequate medical evidence in order to fully value the claim and failed to take relevant steps to ensure the court proceedings were served in time.
Upon notifying the previous solicitors of our instruction, they admitted liability very early on and acted cooperatively in progressing the claim. It was then for our team to set about obtaining the relevant medical evidence to adequately value our client’s claim.
We ultimately settled the claim for £150,000. The previous solicitors paid our client compensation as well as our costs in bringing the claim. The client and her family were delighted with the result, saying:
“We cannot thank you and your team enough for taking the case on and carrying our fight forward against the firm who clearly mistreated mum’s case beyond belief. But again, words cannot describe how thankful we are specially to yourself who showed us how a solicitor’s firm should be.”
By way of contrast we were instructed in another professional negligence claim arising out of a road traffic accident. In this claim, the claimant had already settled her claim against the defendant driver, but she was concerned that her previous solicitors had not obtained the correct or sufficient medical evidence, which had ultimately resulted in under-settling her claim.
The previous solicitors in this claim were adamant that the claim had not been under-settled, but we obtained further medical evidence which proved that our client was suffering with complex ongoing pain issues, which had not been addressed in the previous medical evidence or losses claimed on her behalf.
Despite this, the previous solicitors attempted to use pressure tactics to imply that the claimant did not in fact have a genuine claim. They continued to deny liability. However, having obtained the further medical evidence which proved the claim had been under-settled by her previous solicitors, we agreed settlement for our client in the sum of £30,000.
Serious injury experts
These two cases highlight that, whilst incidences of professional negligence are rare, it is important to have an expert and experienced solicitor deal with these cases to ensure that they are assessed and handled carefully.
Chris McKinney was the case handler for both cases and commented: “In the first case the solicitor had made a clear, obvious and indefensible error and therefore cooperated in an early resolution of the claim. In the second case the solicitor considered that their professional judgment had been impugned and therefore refused to collaborate and took an obstructive approach leading to a significant increase in the costs. It is important that anyone who feels that their personal injury case has been under settled by their previous Solicitors seeks advice from experienced solicitors.”
This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2023