Month: June 2020

A day in the life of a solicitor

Ever wondered what it’s like to work as a solicitor for a top law firm? We’ve asked our team of talented legal professionals to share some insight into what a regular day looks like.

We spoke to Alex Lyall, a solicitor within our personal injury department. He qualified as a solicitor in 2019 after completing his LPC full-time followed by 5 years of work at our firm before becoming a trainee solicitor. While no two days in this profession are ever the same, we asked for his take on what a day typically looks like:

05.50 – I start my days early with a trip to the gym before work. I always find that working out before a day in the office puts me in the best frame of mind and gets me started on the right foot.

07.45 – After a good workout, I shower, leave the gym and head into the office ready for the working day. I have always been an early bird and always work best in the mornings.

07.50 – Once in the office, I grab a cup of tea and get settled in at my desk. My first task is to always review my overnight emails. Often, these emails end up dictating your tasks for the day, and I want to ensure all my clients have got a proper response, where possible.

 

08.30 – Once I’ve gone through my inbox and replied to a few that need urgent responses, I review my task list. At Hampson Hughes, we use the ‘Proclaim’ system, which will has all the tasks pre-set that I need to complete that day. I have a few important jobs to do, including some court-ordered tasks that involve witness statements, directions questionnaires, listings questionnaires and disclosure lists. I get started on these straight away as it requires a lot of work and I want to make sure it’s done as soon as possible!

09.00 – One email I received overnight was from a barrister who I’ve instructed to provide an ‘Advice on Quantum’. This is a document drafted by a barrister which values complex injuries. We’ve completed this particular claimant’s medical evidence, but I now need to review the advice, produce a ‘Schedule of Loss’, prepare a proposed offer for the defendant and create a form of authority for the claimant to approve the making of an offer. This is an important stage of the claim, so it’s vital these documents are completed to the highest quality.

10.30 – I get stuck into my chaser tasks before I head to the court. These can include chasing clients for forms of authority; hospitals and GP practices for medical records; medical agencies for reports and appointments and defendants for offers or further documents which they need me to disclose and add to their case file.

11.30 – I head to the court and meet with the defence lawyer to obtain disclosure of evidence. As is procedure, I review its content in detail.

12.00 – Following my trip to the court, I head out to get some lunch and enjoy the sunshine! It’s always good to get a proper lunch break so you can come back to your desk, refreshed and ready for the afternoon.

13.00 – I head back to the office with all the afternoon post logged onto the system.

13.10 – I begin dealing with the post that has come in, taking instructions on offers and replying as required to the remainder of the post.

14.00 – Now that the post has been sorted, I look at instructing medicals for my clients. This is one of the most crucial parts of the job. I need to make sure the expert knows exactly what I need from them when they produce their report. This is important because expert’s report must only encompass their own knowledge, for example an orthopaedic expert, can only comment on physical injuries and not neurological or psychological pain. I need to make sure they provide a prognosis for injuries which the claimant has previously alleged to have suffered and that they correlate with any other reports we have previously obtained.

14:30 – I have a telephone discussion booked in with a barrister on an issued standard costs case. In personal injury claims, issued claims fall into two types: Fast Track and Multi-Track. Fast Track cases are straight- forward cases where the defendant doesn’t get the right to get their own medical evidence. Multi-Track cases involve defendant medical evidence. In this case, we have just received the defendant’s reports.

I’ve recently spoken to my experts to see if the defendant’s reports change their opinions. The barrister and I discuss the finer points of the case to make sure our claim is prepared so it can settle for between £50,000-£100,000 rather than £10,000-£20,000.

15:30 – One of my clients is suffering from a pain syndrome. As such, I have to instruct rehabilitation for him. Following that, I need to compile documents and evidence for the court to highlight how the claimant has mitigated their loss. Therapy helps them to recover quicker and thus not prolong their loss. This will be vital in obtaining a prognosis for the case.

16.00 – Another telephone conference with a barrister. This time, it’s for a claim that’s in its initial stages. We’ve received a liability denial and have now obtained the claimant’s medical records, together with images of the accident area and injury. The conference is to determine if the claim has sufficient prospects to continue towards obtaining medical reports.

16.50 – Following the call, I dictate my conference notes to a legal secretary for them to type up. This will contain detailed notes about the prospects of the case, what the strengths and weaknesses of the case are and the next steps we need to take.

17.10 – It’s just after 5pm, so I’m finished for the day. Another productive day of supporting my clients and progressing their claims! I’m off home for a meal with my wife at one of our favourite restaurants.

As you can see, the day of a solicitor is extremely varied! It’s one that requires perseverance, concentration and the ability to manage and interchange between different cases and clients. See our current vacancies by viewing our careers page. 

Cycling post-lockdown: Rules of the road

Cycling is becoming the new-normal in the world of commuting, and coronavirus is to thank. But, for this wave of new cyclists, how strong is their knowledge of the Highway Code now they’re on two wheels?

There’s no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted our lives in a multitude of ways – but one way we could never have predicted was a surge of interest in cycling. From cycling being highlighted as one of three approved forms of exercise during lockdown, to a Government push on daily commutes to be done on two wheels, it’s fair to say there’s been quite a spike in the number of people exploring their options. In fact, bicycle retailer Halfords has reported a growth in shares of 24% following the PM’s recommendation to cycle to work, a number that continues to grow.

SO, WHY DO WE NEED TO KNOW THE RULES OF CYCLING?

With more bums on bicycle seats as people take up the sport as an excuse to get outside during lockdown, or to avoid the risk of the virus spreading via public transport, we can expect to see more bikes out on the roads as we ease out of lockdown.

This is a potential issue for a few reasons, though. While the Highway Code is tested for car drivers, no test is required to if we want to pick up a bike and get cycling. This, in turn, could mean a high number of new cyclists who have little knowledge of their rights on the road.

Not only that, but many of these new cyclists will have enjoyed travelling on previously very empty streets in the midst of lockdown. How will they fare when moved to busy roads and faced with congested junctions, and how will drivers cope with more people on the roads?

 

COULD WE SEE AN INCREASE IN ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS?

With inexperienced cyclists, we’re likely to see a rise in road traffic accidents, sadly. We already see huge numbers of road traffic accidents involving cyclists, where both the cyclist and car user have been at fault.

 

Recently, we settled a claim for cyclist, Pat from Bootle. While cycling home from work, he suffered a collision from a car who hit him due to the driver failing to give way to him as he travelled straight across a roundabout. Sadly, he suffered a fractured skull, dislocated right shoulder, broken ribs, fractured collar bone and skin abrasions. Fortunately he made a fantastic recovery and was fully healed within 2 years of the accident.

Following a court case, we settled his claim for £25,000. This covered his costs for physiotherapy post-accident, as well as for his bike plus further compensation for damages.

 

DO YOU KNOW THE RULES OF THE ROAD?

While many of us should, hopefully, be very aware of the Highway Code for drivers, just how good is our knowledge of the rules for the road as a cyclist?

With conflating public opinion on cycling issues like, can you cycle on the pavement, do you legally have to wear a helmet and more, we’re putting the question to the public – give it a go and let us know how you get on…

Help us find out how well you know the rules of the road with this quick, fun quiz.

 

Are you ready for the Rules of the Road quiz?

The Hampson Hughes team want to test the UK population on their cyclist knowledge... See how you get on with our quick-fire quiz!

 

‘Urgent need for action’ remains following East Kent NHS Trust birth scandal

Maternity services at East Kent NHS Foundation Trust remain under investigation following a report of the preventable deaths of up to 15 babies in their care over recent years.

Nadine Dorries, minister for patient safety, pledged immediate action and investigations are now firmly underway by NHS England to review the two hospitals in Margate and Ashford.

Specialist medical negligence lawyer Carlos Lopez says the case has too many heart-breaking similarities to the avoidable tragedies that were recently investigated at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Foundation Trust.  He urges action is taken to investigate maternity safety across the UK to ensure families know the failures have been addressed and that this will never happen again.

 

WHAT HAPPENED AT EAST KENT NHS FOUNDATION TRUST?

A series of preventable deaths and incidents of poor maternity care were uncovered at the Trust following the heart-breaking death of baby Harry Richford in 2017, seven days after his birth at Margate’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, because of complications with his delivery and aftercare. Harry Richford’s death was ‘absolutely avoidable’ and only after the persistence of the family was an inquest ordered. Since this, a series of failings have come to light and it is believed at least 15 babies have died because of negligence in recent years.

medical negligence maternity care failings

Results of an independent report were released by The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB) in April 2020. HSIB had been investigating the Trust since July 2018 and identified “recurrent safety risks” in 24 cases, including the deaths of three babies and two mothers.

 

WHAT WAS THE OUTCOME OF THE HSIB REPORT?

The report found a broad range of contributing factors relating to patient safety, including:

  • Concerns related to the unavailability of staff with suitable skills in reading and interpreting CTG (cardiotocograph) results
  • The location of equipment vital for neonatal resuscitation “added delay, risk and distress to critical situations”
  • Deterioration in the condition of mothers and babies had occurred in several cases because staff had not recognised the signs and symptoms that indicate deterioration
  • Suggestion of a reluctance of midwifery staff to escalate concerns to obstetric and neonatal colleagues

The Healthcare Safety Investigations Branch (HSIB) stated that it first raised concerns in 2018, but found the failings continued. It stated in its report that the Trust was “inappropriately slow given the evidence of ongoing patient safety risks and the safety recommendations made”.

 

THE CARE QUALITY COMMISSION (CQC) REPORT

In May 2020, a separate report by the CQC released its latest findings which confirmed that maternity services at the hospitals were rated as ‘requiring improvement’ overall, and ‘requiring improvement’ in leadership and safety. The CQC inspection also found that the antenatal clinic at the William Harvey Hospital was “poorly maintained”.

baby maternity care failing

While we recognise that improvements have been noted by the inspectors in certain areas of the CQC report, it is extremely worrying that both reports still highlight areas for concern around patient safety. Families that have been devastated by the death of their babies will feel incredibly let down that patient safety remains a key concern at the Trust.

 

HOW DO WE PREVENT THIS HAPPENING AGAIN?

The East Kent NHS Trust faces a possible criminal prosecution and an independent review is still pending into the circumstances of 26 maternity deaths at the hospitals. The independent and national inquiries are long overdue.

The heartbreaking similarities between the unacceptable standards of maternity care at The East Kent NHS Trust and The Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Hospitals are clear and it is devastating for families from both areas that such serious failures were allowed to continue for so long.

The birth of a child should be the most joyous occasion for mother, baby and family and maternity units need to show the highest level of care to both mother and child.

These are extreme examples of a hospital trust’s maternity unit being poorly managed. However, hospital trusts are under increasing pressure due to staff shortages and other institutional problems and we are sadly seeing a rising number of cases of negligence in pregnancy and child birth.

We have dealt with a number of cases involving the death of an infant or where a baby or mother has suffered life-changing injuries due to negligence during birth. We have seen the unthinkable pain this causes the family and the lasting impact it has on their lives. Nobody should have to endure this suffering.

A nationwide investigation into maternity services across the UK needs to be prioritised to look at how tragedies like this can be avoided to ensure that what these families have had to go through does not continue to happen over and over again.

If you have suffered any complications during your pregnancy or birth, then you could be eligible to make a claim. We understand the difficulties around doing this, but our team works hard for you to get justice and hopefully, stop incidents like yours happening again in the future. For a free, no obligation chat about your claim, contact our specialist medical negligence solicitors on 0800 888 6888, info@hampsonhughes.com or via the contact form.

 

 

Sepsis cases continue to rise at an alarming rate. How to spot the silent killer?

Terrifying statistics show that sepsis causes 1 in 5 deaths worldwide and is continuing to claim more lives each year.

The number of people who die from sepsis exceeds all deaths from prostate, lung and breast cancer combined. Our experts look at the rising number of cases and examine what is behind the increase and the signs and symptoms people need to look out for.

WHAT IS SEPSIS?

Sepsis is a blood infection and occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to an infection. Fighting the infection can result in inflammation throughout the body and damage to organs and tissues. If not treated quickly and effectively it can result in multi-organ failure and death. Early diagnosis and treatment is vital.

WHAT IMPACT IS SEPSIS HAVING ON PUBLIC HEALTH?

International research published in The Lancet in January 2020 estimates that the number of deaths from sepsis has doubled from 2016 to 2017. In 2016, there were 5.3 million deaths and 19.4 million cases. But in 2017 the number of deaths massively jumped to 11 million with over 48.9 million cases across 195 countries. Although sepsis is the number one killer, public awareness, although growing, is still relatively low.

Dr Ron Daniels, Chief Executive of the UK Sepsis Trust, said sepsis is responsible for killing up to 47,860 people a year in the UK.

SO WHY ARE SEPSIS RATES INCREASING?

There are a multitude of reasons the rates of sepsis could be increasing. The first, is that medical professionals are more aware of it and it is more commonly being cited as cause of death or recognized on patients during assessment. One study found that sepsis was only written on the death certificate in 40% of cases where patients had died from the condition.

The other issues is public awareness as medical treatment can only do so much. If a patient is suffering from sepsis symptoms, they need to have some awareness of it in order to flag it to a medical professional. While procedural changes have meant that paramedic teams now alert hospital teams of incoming sepsis, similar to practices for stroke and heart attack patients. Incentives have also been put in place to reward ‘good practice in sepsis care’, urging NHS staff to treat sepsis patients within an hour. So while practices are increasingly being put in place in our healthcare buildings, work needs to be done to educate the public so this case figure can drop.

Doctors have recently warned that antibiotic resistance is an increasing concern and growing reason for sepsis case growth. In 2017, the World Health Organisation ordered its member states to develop an action plan to tackle the growing problem. While in some countries, sanitation and clean water is a priority, in the UK antibiotic resistance is the main concern. For every hour before the correct ones administered, risk of death increases.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF SEPSIS?

Anyone can be affected by Sepsis. However certain age groups are more vulnerable. There is a strong correlation between advanced age and the incidence of sepsis, with a sharp increase in the number of cases in patients over 50 years. Children are also at risk with 4 in 10 cases affecting children under the age of five.

Symptoms of sepsis can also depend on the organ affected. For example, sepsis in the brain can cause confusion, while sepsis in the lungs can cause difficulty breathing.

A child may have sepsis if he or she:

  • Is breathing very fast
  • Has a ‘fit’ or convulsion
  • Looks mottled, bluish or pale
  • Has a rash that does not fade when you press it
  • Is very lethargic or difficult to wake
  • Feels abnormally cold to touch

Under 5:

  • Is not feeding
  • Vomiting repeatedly

An adult may have sepsis if:

  • Slurred speech or confusion
  • Extreme shivering or muscle pain
  • Passing no urine (in a day)
  • Severe breathlessness
  • Skin is mottled or discoloured

Trust your instincts! Early detection and treatment can save lives. If you feel you may have early signs of sepsis, contact NHS 111, but call 999 if you have the symptoms of severe sepsis.

sepsis test

Over recent years we have seen an increase in negligence cases. Sadly in many cases this has involved death or serious life changing injuries. It is important that if someone tragically dies as a result of failure to treat or misdiagnosis of sepsis then it is properly investigated so lessons can be learnt for the future.

Daughter fights for justice after her mum died of sepsis following negligent care at care home

Hampson Hughes Solicitors and their experienced and dedicated clinical negligence team have acted for many claimants affected by sepsis. If you or a family member have been a victim of clinical negligence, contact us on 0800 880 7864 or info@hampsonhughes.com, for a free initial consultation.

 

Government pledge to improve Smart Motorways

The building of the first smart motorway began in 2006, but with over 38 deaths in the last five years attributed to the model, questions have been raised over how ‘smart’ they actually are. 

 

WHAT IS A SMART MOTORWAY?

Smart motorways are used to improve the flow of traffic through the most congested parts of the motorway network. Implemented by Highways England as a workaround to building additional lanes which would have a huge environmental impact and take time and money to develop. Smart motorways work by using the hard shoulder as an extra lane and using active signs to monitor and change speed limits depending on traffic levels.

There are currently 20 stretches of smart motorways covering over 400 miles, primarily across England.

 

WHAT IMPACT ARE SMART MOTORWAYS HAVING?

Smart motorways are helping to manage congestion on motorways, with Highways England reporting a drop in journey time on the M25. However, the impact on deaths and incidents is most concerning. Aside from the 38 reported deaths on smart motorways in the last five years, there has also been a drastic increase in “near misses”. A near miss is counted every time there is an accident with “the potential to cause injury or ill health”.

One stretch of the M25, outside London, has seen a four-fold increase in near misses. In the five years before the road was converted into a smart motorway there were just 72 near misses. In the five years after, there were 1,485.

 

WHY AREN’T SMART MOTORWAYS WORKING?

When smart motorways were first piloted in Birmingham, there were safe stopping points for motorists, called emergency lay-bys, every 600 metres. Sir Mike Penning, former Transport Governor approved the expansion of the scheme. However, when the scheme was expanded, emergency lay-bys were placed up to 2.5 miles apart.

In March 2020, following an inquest into the death of a young boy caused by a smart motorway, Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps with the government released new recommendations to help make smart motorways safer, whilst still allowing them to manage increased traffic.

By 2025, the government have proposed a number of changes, to effectively improve Smart Motorways. These include:

  • Abolishing dynamic hard shoulders.
  • An increase in emergency lay-bys, with the maximum distance between them placed as one mile
  • Speeding up the deployment of technology to detect ‘stopped vehicles’.
  • More traffic signs giving the distance to the next place to stop in an emergency, as well as increased visibility of emergency hard shoulders
  • £5m to a communications campaign to increase awareness of how smart motorways work

Motoring organisations said the moves were a ‘victory for common sense and safety’.

Grant Shapps said he had been “greatly concerned by a number of deaths on smart motorways, and moved by the accounts of families who’ve lost loved ones in these tragic incidents’’.

Meanwhile, motoring organisations such as the RAC still aren’t satisfied. According to independent research, two thirds of drivers believe permanently removing the hard shoulder compromises safety in the event of a breakdown. One area not covered by the Government review is the impact of red X gantry signage. In 2019, RAC found that 23% had ignored the red X sign indicating a closed lane. While fines are now in place to those who ignore these signs, there is little discourse on the life or death impact of these signs. Clearly more needs to be done to communicate the role of this signage.

Niamh Wilson, Head of Personal Injury at Hampson Hughes welcomed the government changes but remained sceptical on the use of smart motorways: “There’s no denying there are clear faults with smart motorways in their current form. With no real place for vehicles to stop when they suffer a breakdown, they are left stranded in live lanes. With some of the busiest motorways being used as smart motorways, we need to address this issue quickly and efficiently to prevent further serious incidents.

While we support a need for technology focussed on detection of stranded vehicles, when looking at historic cases of incidents, victims are impacted in mere seconds, so looking to increase detection time will never have 100% success rate. As such, greater emphasis needs to be put on installing more emergency refuge spots for drivers to pull into should they need it.

Further to that, we welcome a strong and targeted communications campaign. There are increasing statistics highlighting a lack of awareness among motorists. Smart motorway rules need to be clearly explained and when driving on one, it needs to highly identifiable so that drivers can react quickly.

We welcome these changes and we hope we see a significant decrease in serious incidents on Britain’s roads. Until that happens, the government needs to listen to motorists and large motoring organisations like RAC and AA for their vital audience insight.”

 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Road Traffic Accident, contact our specialist team for advice on 0800 888 6888 or email us at info@hampsonhughes.com

£3,800 awarded in compensation for rear-end collision

At the time of the incident, our client was driving along the M25 in Dartford, The defendant failed to maintain a safe breaking distance and so collided with the rear of our client’s vehicle, which in turn caused him to collide with the vehicle in front.

Our client suffered from pain and discomfort as well as whiplash type injuries to his neck, back and shoulder. He had a pre-existing injury to his shoulder and his wrist which were exacerbated by the accident.

Post-accident, our client has seen restriction in personal care, and his shopping habits, sleep pattern and leisure activities have been severely restricted. He now also suffers from travel anxiety following on from the accident.

A total of £3,800 was awarded in compensation.

Commenting on the outcome of the case, our client said ‘”They’re very good solicitors and they’re highly recommended, they kept me updated and made me feel comfortable the whole way.’’

Have you been involved in a Road Traffic Accident?

If you’ve been injured on the road due to an accident that wasn’t your fault, then you could be entitled to claim road traffic accident compensation. Whether you’ve suffered a minor injury or something more serious, our Road Traffic Accident Solicitors can help you to claim the compensation that you deserve.

 

Find out more about road traffic accident claims, or call our team for free, no-obligation advice on 0800 888 6 888 or send an email to info@hampsonhughes.com