Choosing the Right Expert for an Injury Claim
It is important that solicitors who deal with serious injury claims think outside the box. It is so easy to instruct the same standard experts in injury claims and get standard reports to value the client’s claim. Spending a little time to reflect on the client, the nature of the client’s condition and impact on his or her life tells you so much about what you need to do to properly value the client’s claim in order to maximise the client’s quality of life.
I recently inherited a case in which there was an offer on the table at £1.5million. The client had suffered a catastrophic brain injury following a road traffic accident. The parties had obtained their respective medical evidence and the defendants were making the offer. The offer did not, on the evidence seem overly unreasonable.
What puzzled me however was that after a period of hospitalisation and some rehabilitation at home the client's condition seemed to improve but there was then a period of secondary deterioration following this improvement. The client declined physically and mentally and was no longer able to move without considerable help. He had been walking with assistance prior to the deterioration setting in. I have worked with severely brain injured clients for over 25 years now and I had not come across a case where this level of deterioration occurred after the accident and where it was related to the injury. This seemed to me an area that required investigation. The deterioration had a significant impact on both the client and the family. Some of the experts at the time were of the view that the problem might be genetic and onset of post-accident might just be a mere coincidence. I don’t like leaving things to chance so coincidence does not enter my thinking without evidence.
The client was fortunate enough to have a very experienced Queen’s Counsel advising and following discussions with him I pursued a different avenue of investigation. I brought on board two very specialist neurologists one of whom had extensive experience in post-traumatic brain injury rehabilitation medicine and the other was one of the leading international experts in neurological disorders. The defendants of course had their own neurological expert.
Following instruction of the two new experts I was pleased to find that the Defendant’s expert agreed with the claimant’s expert that the cause of these highly unusual symptoms was directly related to the accident. As a result of that finding I am pleased to note that the claimant’s claim was valued at over four times the original offer. The settlement will be a good outcome for the claimant and I am pleased with the part I played.
It is so important, particularly in the large claims, to make sure that you have the right expert evidence. The words of the Principal I trained with all those years ago: “Evidence Yasmin, EVIDENCE” ring in my ear in the preparation of every case.