Exchange Chambers research “can act as a catalyst to improve the whole claims and rehabilitation process”

October 2, 2018

Every year, thousands of people with serious brain injuries rely on family, friends, solicitors and healthcare professionals to help put their lives back on track – yet new research shows the relationship between the parties is far from harmonious.

Research from Exchange Chambers indicates that the vast majority (77%) of claimant solicitors have experienced a situation where the family has not acted in the best interests of their seriously injured relative.

The majority of solicitors have also sacked both the client’s barrister and case manager during the course of a claim. Reasons for changing barrister include poor communication skills and lack of enthusiasm.  Reasons for switching case manager include failure to gain the family’s trust and respect and failure to get the job done.

Commenting on the research, Bill Braithwaite QC, Head of Exchange Chambers said:

“The themes emerging from this research can act as a catalyst to improve the whole claims and rehabilitation process.  An open dialogue between all parties needs to start now.   Serious issues need addressing.  Everyone must act in the best interests of the injured person, otherwise the whole system breaks down.”

Continued Bill Braithwaite QC:

“In my experience, families almost always have the best interests of their injured relative at heart, even if it is not immediately obvious.

“Lawyers and experts sometimes fall into the trap of trying to impose their ideas on to families, which only succeeds in creating tension and conflict.

“The views of the family must always be respected and considered.  They know the injured person better than anyone else.”

In other findings, the majority (57%) of solicitors say case managers do not have a role to play in the management of the litigation while a significant number (30%) believe case managers waste money.

Continued Bill Braithwaite QC:

“I’ve always thought that a good case manager was the key to a successful outcome for the injured person, the family, and the compensation claim.

“If you appoint a good case manager early, and that person has the ability to get to know the family, gain their trust and confidence, and help to manage the stormy voyage through recovery and rehabilitation, that person will be an invaluable contact point for the solicitor, frequently helping him or her to avoid disturbing and distressing the family.

“So much of the litigation is bound up with the injured person and the family, and the plan for life, that it seems to me to be obvious that the case manager should be involved in some part of the litigation process.”

Exchange Chambers’ research also points to low levels of job satisfaction in the personal injury sector with the majority (56%) of solicitors saying they would not recommend it as a career choice to others.

Continued Bill:

“I’ve no doubt that the personal injury market is overstaffed with solicitors and barristers at the moment, and I expect that to right itself gradually. I don’t believe that highly qualified lawyers can expect to be paid for low value work, and I’m not surprised that so many solicitors are not enjoying the personal injury experience. I’ve thought and said for years that we should concentrate on the higher value claims, develop expertise in them, and then offer a service which is worth the fees we charge.”

He concluded:

“The starting point for me would be to ensure that personal injury lawyers are truly expert in what they do.

“Since time immemorial, personal injury has been an area of work that many or most lawyers think they can manage alongside their other areas.

“I’ve found, over more than a quarter of a century, that true specialisation really works; clients appreciate the knowledge that you bring to their problem, and the whole rehabilitation and litigation process is much better managed.”