The rise in Professional Negligence Claims against claimant Personal Injury Firms
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The rise in Professional Negligence Claims against claimant Personal Injury Firms

September 28, 2012

By Karen Ashton, Associate Solicitor – Hampson Hughes Solicitors

I read with interest an article in the 13 September 2012 edition of the Gazette stating that professional negligence claims against personal injury firms for under-valuing settlements are increasing rapidly. 

Having been a personal injury solicitor for over 10 years, and predominantly for a number of years dealing with road traffic accident claims, I have seen a number of changes by governments regarding how these claims are conducted. 

The main impact has been on the issue of costs claimed by Claimant solicitors in dealing with such claims which has consistently been an area under attack. 

 Prior to October 2003, Claimant’s costs of dealing with these claims were assessed in my opinion by the ‘common sense approach’ – by the actual time spent by solicitors on telephone calls made, letters written and time spent reviewing documents on each file which would then be billed to Defendant solicitors and/or their cost representatives seeking payment. 

Following October 2003, costs were assessed in their simpliest form on the amount of compensation the Claimant received with a starting point of basis cost of £800.

This continued to be the case until further reforms in April 2010 with the introduction by the Ministry of Justice of the “Low Value Personal Injury Claims in Road Traffic Accidents” with all RTA claims valued between £1,000 to £10,000 being submitted via the MOJ Portal.  This further limited Claimant solicitors’ costs to an average of £1350 to £1850 per each claim. 

 Such changes in Claimant solicitors’ costs at no time took account of the work which goes into dealing with these cases, irrespective of the value and the type of injuries sustained by a client. 

It is simply not the case that all claims should be treated the same, as the changes particularly in 2010 suggest what may be a minor injury to one person may not be to another.  This is what in legal terms is referred as “taking your victim as you find them”, meaning that whatever the injury and whoever the individual involved, we all react differently.

As a solicitor who now deals specifically with accident at work claims, I pride myself on always giving my best to my clients and ensuring they obtain the best possible settlement as a result of an accident which, let us not forget in these days of attacking so called “greedy” Claimant solicitors, was not their fault.

If you have been involved in an Accident at Work and would like expert, confidential advice please contact the specialist team here at Hampson Hughes Solicitors on 0800 888 6888 or email [email protected]


Day in the Life of a Trainee Solicitor – Jonathon Alderton

Day in the Life of a Trainee Solicitor at Hampson Hughes Solicitors

Jonathon Alderton is a Trainee Solicitor at Hampson Hughes Solicitors, having started his training contract at the beginning of September 2012.

7:15am – Despite the atrocious weather conditions I manage to get up as soon as my alarm goes off. Get ready, grab breakfast and start the 20 minute walk from home to the Hampson Hughes offices

8:20am – Arrive to at our head offices on Old Hall Street in Liverpool. My morning routine usually involves a trip to Starbucks en route for a Caramel Macchiato, today being no different.

8:30am – Settle in at my desk. I have recently moved to join the Industrial Disease Department as part of my Training Contact seat rotation. This is an entirely new area of law for me so I am very excited to see different types of challenges it will present in helping me to become a more complete and well-rounded lawyer.

I check my emails and prioritise any urgent responses and tasks. Early morning is usually a good opportunity to respond to client queries and chase up any urgent correspondence from the other side.

9:00am – Working on Industrial Disease and RTA Protocol Trainee Projects. Once all the urgent queries have been dealt with I continue working on a synopsis relating to new Industrial Disease claims. This project has given me an opportunity to carry out extensive legal research and then apply any relevant case law and legislation to the facts of the case. This practical application of the law is one of the key skills a lawyer needs to be able to demonstrate and something that the lawyers at HH do incredibly well. I look forward to perfecting this skill over the course of the next 18 months! Email the completed synopsis to my supervisor and invite constructive feedback.

I apply the finishing touches to work on another project relating to the ‘RTA Protocol’ that I have been working on jointly with a fellow trainee and report back to two of the Directors at HH, Alisha Ward and Craig Ralph.

11:00am – Meeting in the boardroom with Supervisor and Industrial Disease Team members regarding the upcoming Industrial Disease file clinics in Durham and Sunderland. The clinics should be a good opportunity to discuss the claims with clients on a face to face basis and help build rapport between the Firm and our clientele. We need to make sure we are well prepared – I learn that these cases will involve noise induced hearing loss under the Factories Act 1961. We discuss the criteria for establishing the merits of the claims as well as how to progress the files and maximise damages. I take detailed notes and type these up following the meeting.

12:30pm –     Quick stop at the shops to pick up lunch and a coffee, and have a quick chat with colleagues. I eat lunch at my desk whilst reading through some case law provided by Alisha Ward, Director at Hampson Hughes Solicitors, relevant to the ‘MOJ Protocol’ project. I make some quick notes and report conclusions drawn by email. File case law and relevant notes in my training contract folder.

1:15pm – Continue my review of noise induced hearing loss articles, sample medical reports and audiograms provided in earlier meeting in advance of the upcoming file clinics. It’s evident already these claims are extremely involved and will require interpretation of highly specialist medical evidence which may well make or break the claim. Supervisor has assured us we will be allowed to work independently on these files and make these sorts of value judgements ourselves.

At Hampson Hughes Solicitors you are always expected to show initiative and from a trainee’s point of view it is extremely reassuring to know you opinion is trusted and highly valued.

3:00pm – Feeling adequately up to speed on the issues relating to the hearing loss claims I shift focus back to my task list. I have a variety of files in my case load allowing me to experience a wide spectrum of issues. I review my emails in tandem with this and then call the third party in an attempt to negotiate settlement on two files where the third party has been so far uncooperative. Negotiating is another key skill so it is good opportunity to get some further practice in! This often entails quick thinking to counter any arguments raised so when you settle a file on good terms this is always one of the most satisfying aspects of the job. On this occasion the third party insurers confirm they will review the file further and return to me in due course.

4:30pm – Liaise with colleague on new work flows for the Stage 2 and Industrial Disease processes. Once these are in place we hope to be able to improve efficiency even further, allowing us to help more clients whilst retaining our ability to advance claims as quickly as possible. Commercial awareness is a key asset that is actively encouraged and fostered at HH, allowing us to retain our edge over the competition!

5:15pm – Review my emails and tidy up any outstanding issues that have arisen during the course of the day. Today this involves reviewing some medical evidence and devising an action plan on several files where the clients have suffered quite severe injuries.

6:00pm – Working day is done. Complete my training contract diary detailing the tasks worked on during the day and head home to relax in preparation for another early start tomorrow!


A Day in the Life of a Trainee Solicitor

September 27, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Trainee Solicitor at Hampson Hughes Solicitors…

John Owens is a trainee Solicitor at Hampson Hughes Solicitors, having started his training contract at the beginning of September 2012.

7.40am – Get up, grab a shower and get ready for work for the day. Gym bag is also packed and ready for my evening work out & I grab a quick breakfast

8.10am – Leave home for work. Luckily I live within walking distance from our Old Hall Street offices, but still have to battle through the monsoon like weather conditions. My massive Hampson Hughes umbrella helps the situation!

8.25am – Sign in at work and start the day by reviewing and replying to emails.

9.00am – I check my task list and prioritise the most important tasks to complete first, making a list of all client files that need to be issues. I’ll then begin working through those that require issuing – this pretty much covers my mornings work.

12.30pm – Although it’s lunchtime for the majority of the HH team, and that normally means a break, I work through my lunch hour researching a project for 2 of the Firms directors on the MOJ portal.

1.30pm – I have a Training session with one of my supervising solicitors, John Lowry on drafting Particulars of Claim, followed by another training session with one of Hampson Hughes Solicitors directors, Alisha Ward, on taking witness statements from clients. These training sessions are essential to my training contract and I always feel the benefit of them.

3.30pm – I’ve got a meeting with my fellow Trainee Solicitors and Fee Earners regarding the drafting of Particulars of Claims.

3.45pm – Time to get back to my desk and review & respond to this afternoons emails and any post, of which there’s always plenty!

5.30pm – The HH offices are emptying out for the day, however I stay later this evening to finish my research project on the MOJ Portal for the Directors.

6.45pm – Last email checks of the day and time for me to put together my ‘to do’ list for tomorrow

7.00pm – Leave the office and head over to the gym for a 50 minute work-out….healthy body healthy mind!!

8.00pm – Arrive home and unwind by watching an episode of ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians’ (My Guilty Pleasure) while I make dinner. Time to relax for the evening to make sure I am ready for another busy day tomorrow at Hampson Hughes Solicitors.

9.00pm – Grab a shower then get into bed, read till 10pm, watch the news then go to sleep. #EXHAUSTED


Hampson Hughes Liverpool JMU Competition Winner

September 25, 2012

Congratulations to Abby Mills who entered into the Hampson Hughes Solicitors iPad 2 competition at the Liverpool JMU & Liverpool Student Union Fresher’s Fairs events last week!
Abby is our iPad 2 winner.
Thank you to everyone else who took part – we received hundreds of entries over the 4 days at the Fresher’s Fairs.


Liverpool JMU & Liverpool Student Union Fresher’s Week

September 24, 2012

Hampson Hughes Solicitors had a amazing 4 days getting involved at the Liverpool JMU & Liverpool Student Union Fresher’s Week 17th to 20th September. Thank you to Liverpool Student Union and all the students who we have met over 4 days who made us feel so welcome, we are delighted to be working with you all over the next 12 months!


John Moores University Freshers Fair

September 13, 2012

A message to any students attending the Fresher’s Fairs events at the Liverpool Student Union (Haigh Building, Maryland Street) at Liverpool John Moores University next week…

Hampson Hughes Solicitors will be at the Fresher’s Fairs each day from Monday 17th to Thursday 20th September 2012. Make sure you visit our stall to find out more about graduate job opportunities and work experience opportunities to enhance your CV & increase your employability!

We also have a student “credit card” style referral scheme. If you or a friend or member of your family have been involved in a road traffic accident, an accident out and about an accident at work, or suffered as a result of clinical negligence – recommend Hampson Hughes Solicitors to benefit from cash incentives of £500 or an iPad, or money towards driving lessons. What would you choose!

You can find out more about Hampson Hughes Solicitors partnership with LiverpoolSU by emailing [email protected].


A Day in the Life Of….a trainee Solicitor at Hampson Hughes Solicitors

September 12, 2012

Mark McErlane is a trainee Solicitor at Hampson Hughes Solicitors, having started his training contract at the beginning of September 2012.

Mark has been working for Hampson Hughes Solicitors as a paralegal for 18 months prior to commencing his training contract and has also been studying the Legal Practice Course on a part-time basis.

7:30am Alarm call! The worst part of my day! Luckily having recently moved into the city centre, I can “snooze for half an hour”. Time to get ready for work and grab some breakfast

8:45am Arrive to work at the HH offices on Old Hall Street, and make a brew to set me up for the day.

9:00am Check through my emails and task list in order to plan my day.  I am currently working on the Multi-Track and Catastrophic Injury team, therefore my tasks are extremely varied and challenging.  I really enjoy this aspect of my work as I am constantly exposed to new things, which will help me develop into a top Solicitor.

9:45am I have a meeting with the Partners, Training Contract Co-ordinator and my fellow trainees in the boardroom.  This meeting has been arranged in order to prepare our seat rotation for our training contracts.  I learn that I will be exposed to several different areas of law on my training contract which is great news!  We all agree a timetable for the rest of my training contract to ensure I get the most out of my training.  The meeting was also a great opportunity for the trainees to discuss our intentions and hopes for the rest of our contract.  All of this was taken into consideration by the Partners and Training Contract Co-Ordinator – this is one of the great things about working at Hampson Hughes Solicitors -  you have scope to make a difference and put your own input in the firm, which I think makes people feel really involved in making Hampson Hughes Solicitors even bigger and better!

12:00am I have a meeting with the Senior Solicitor & Director Alisha Ward to discuss our cases and to prepare action plans on how we can proceed and resolve our client’s claims quickly and maximise their damages.  Whilst working alongside Alisha I take notes as part of my training.

13:00pm Lunch time. I pop home with some of my work colleagues, where we catch up on each other’s day and chill out after a busy morning.

14:00pm Back to work and straight into a conference with Counsel and a client.  The client has been severely injured as a result of an accident and as such we require an in depth discussion with Counsel.  It is also a good opportunity for the client to discuss their claim on a one to one basis and for Counsel to be prepared for any potential trial.  These relationships are key to resolving the client’s claim as effectively as possible.  It is also a real learning curve for me as I can learn from Counsel during the conference.

15:00pm I get back to my desk and have several files to review upon transfer from other teams.  The files have been transferred to my team due to the issues involved and the potential value of the claim.  It is important to get the ball rolling as soon as possible so I prepare a detailed plan on how to proceed and run this over with Alisha, the team leader.  I then call the clients or send them a letter advising of a new file handler and updating them on the progress.

16:30pm I get a chance to go through my task list which contains a broad range of things.  Today I need to review medical reports and make an application to court.  I am extremely lucky in this respect in that I am exposed to such a variety of work and trusted to work independently whilst having access to several experienced solicitors for advice.  I therefore combine a high level of responsibility with a breadth of training and knowledge from my colleagues, making Hampson Hughes Solicitors the ideal place to pursue my training contract

17:30pm My working day is over, and I ensure I have completed all urgent tasks.  I then fill in my training contract record which reflects all new work done, skills employed and what I have learnt that day.  Today has been very productive!

18:00pm Quick visit to the shops to pick up dinner for the evening dinner before heading home and relaxing before another day as a trainee solicitor!


Social Media – Degrees of separation in Personal Injury cases

September 10, 2012

Hampson Hughes Solicitors have today won a 2 day trial in Manchester County Court on behalf of 5 Claimants, whereby the Defendant Solicitors attempted to introduce evidence they believed would advance their argument that the parties involved in the accident new each other through Facebook. The Defendants evidence was tenuous at best and the Judge agreed with the Claimants Counsel in that it was too little too late.

With the rise of Social Networking around the world various studies have been undertaken, including one by researchers at Università degli Studi di Milano in which it was found that “the degrees of separation between any two Facebook users is smaller than the commonly cited six degrees, and has been shrinking over the past three years as Facebook has grown”.

Apparently 721 Million users of Facebook were examined and 50% had over 100 friends. It was suggested by the University that everyone on Facebook was linked through 3 “hops”, meaning everyone on Facebook could potentially be linked to any other user in the world by only 3 other facebook users.

With this particular issue being raised more and more by Defendant Solicitors as an indicator of fraud, which we believe will only become more apparent as the world and social media develops, it is important that all Claimant Solicitors are fully conversant with the issue and the research in respect of the same.

How many of us have gone on holiday only to meet someone from the same area who turns out to know a mutual friend?

In this instant case the Defendant Solicitors had attempted to link the parties in the vehicles through a Facebook page that was a tribute page to someone who had died. We believe that this claim should never have been run all the way to Court, costing the insurance Company (and in return those of us who pay insurance) thousands of pounds to defend.


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