I was involved in a pretty straight forward accident. The other driver’s insurers admitted liability very quickly, and I went with the solicitors my insurers advised. I wish I had not.
As a result of the injury I have had a fusion of my ankle which has left me in real difficulty walking. My employers have been fantastic, letting me keep my job, but I can only do about two thirds of my old role as an engineer. I can still do the skilled part of the work, but I cannot get to places on site as I really cannot get up a ladder. My pay has gone down £10,000 a year from £30,000 take home and my pension has taken a hit. I am only 37, so expected to work another 30 years full time.
My solicitors who were appointed by my insurance company have said I ‘have to’ take £35,000 as we cannot prove my reduced earning capacity is down to my injuries. My employers have already written In and confirmed that I am not fit to work at height or have ladder access.
When questioned, the so called solicitors said they ‘had taken Counsel’s advice’ and ‘Counsel agrees with us’. I did meet with a barrister who was a guy in his forties who seemed to make it his business to tell me everything that was wrong with my case and he kept going on about the ‘insurers not being responsible for my employers decision’. However, he has not confirmed any of this ‘opinion’ in writing. My wife and I are at our wits end. I know the law is complex, but is it really this unfair?
The law isn’t that difficult if you understand it. The barrister has an impressive CV for criminal cases, but no track record for injury claims work. I fear he’s being paid to agree with a claims monkey who is far too frightened to go to Court.
Everything about the ‘advice’ you have been given stinks. The courts have become a lot stricter on incompetent lawyers over the last 18 months and firms that use paralegals who genuinely do not have a clue what they are doing are just being beaten up by insurers who use real solicitors and real barristers. The law will put you into the position, as best it can that you enjoyed prior to your accident.
Lost wages are the easiest thing to calculate. You have lost £10k a year. The standard statistics absolutely every competent lawyer knows and what the judge first looks to are the government’s own statistics so your £10,000 loss is multiplied by 20.80 and then reduced for the risks every worker has of not working through to retirement. You don’t get a full 30 years lost income because you will be getting money you would have earned aged 65 before you are 40 and you are expected to invest your money at an unrealistic return of about 5.5% but that is the law and Government isn’t going to change it any time soon.
We lawyers look in a big book of numbers (The Professional Negligence Bar Associations Facts and Figures) and work out what your earnings would have been as an able bodied man, what they are as a disabled man and whilst the Judge can put you in a scale of disability, my feeling is the likely award for lost earnings will not be less than £250,000 and I am being deliberately conservative and presuming a really harsh Judge. I could not get the figure below that.
Your ankle injuries are likely to be around the £35k mark on their own and by the time we put three years past losses at a conservative £30k, l cannot get your claim less than £300,000 – and yours is a story I see on an almost weekly basis.
The law, as l have summarised it, is really very simple. What you have is a terrified claims handler who doesn’t want to go to Court so his inadequacies are not exposed and a barrister who should be thoroughly ashamed of himself. He clearly has not got the first clue how to value a large personal injury case and he should not be advising in a field he does not have the first clue about. My figures are not magic. They are at the tight end of conventional. Good luck!
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