First and foremost, this blog is not a thinly disguised attempt at a ‘How To’ for anyone trying to wheedle money from their employers, local council or anyone else over either partly or wholly fabricated personal injuries. It is, in fact, largely the fault of such individuals, that contingent fee legal claims are constantly the subject of controversy and consequently under threat. Without contingent fee personal injury claims, the majority of everyday working people would not be able to afford to uphold their rights; in a nut shell, having no means to uphold your rights equates to the same as having no rights…
With that cleared up, let the blog begin…
Few people understand that losing a finger, coping with a repetitive stress injury or being bedridden for a period of time is not the issue. At least, not the only issue; if you have been in this situation, you will know the far-reaching effects that result. And you will know that it is ineffable to succinctly explain or make clear what it is like to be in this situation or to have experienced this.
It is the effects on top of having lost, suffered or continuing to suffer that add up to create a situation in which the injured (and in this case innocent) party suffers tenfold. Then, the suffering is far reaching and can spread like cancer to damage your mental, emotional and financial status. Maybe, though, worse than all these things (even combined) is the reality that no one who hasn’t either been in this situation, except maybe those who have a spouse or relative who has, could ever understand; even trying to explain is can be an overwhelming stressful undertaking.
Having watched a friend go through this, I can’t even imagine (or I don’t even want to) what happens to elderly, alone or mentally vulnerable individuals placed in this situation. My friend was young, surrounded by friends and family and very mentally and physically healthy before he ended up in this position. Despite the situation having now been resolved in court, he has been left with the emotional and mental fallout. His physical wounds have healed; his mental health isn’t so easy to fix.
Then, the last thing you need is to be told that now you have to complete hours of research, phone calls, complete enquiry forms and try to detangle the law to avoid being injured further by it in an attempt to simply limit the damage being caused…and get some justice.
Even that last sentence was painful to write…
Hence, below, is a short list of useful contacts and ideas to hopefully offer some constructive advice for anyone attempting to cope in this situation or having to watch a love one go through this.
Like compensation, no amount of advice or support can rectify or reverse your situation, but I can tell you: my reason for writing this (not exactly thrilling – to write or read) blog is that I empathise and wish, when my friend had been injured I could have done more to at least provide him with options or possible place / people to turn to for advice. The truth is, I felt helpless and powerless…we all did.
Do you know your rights? …honestly. I’m not just talking about if you happen to fall down a man hole. What if you were wrongly arrested? What if you were working in substandard working conditions over a long period of time, would you know whether you had the right to voice this or even how to?
I don’t. Even now, after seeing what my friend has gone through – and is still going through, I don’t know that much about my rights.
Anyone who has attempted to glean a clear and concise understanding of UK human rights, employment rights and…well any rights in the UK(!) will have quickly realised that this is impossible…unless you happen to be training to be a lawyer. Then, how are people supposed to uphold their rights if they can’t even fully know or hope to understand them?
It is quite simple, actually. Free legal advice is available concerning sustained personal injuries, illnesses and negligence cases from The Citizens Advice Bureau. I have heard (and maybe you have to) negative reviews of The Citizens Advice Bureau, but please remember that this is an organisation run largely by volunteers who give up their time to ensure that the organisation is as efficient it is. The Citizens Advice Bureau is funded by a mix of the UK Government and ‘other sources’. Hence, realistically you will probably need to demonstrate more patience and understanding than you would be expected to treat a paid legal representative. I know this is (genuinely) a lot to ask when you or a loved one is suffering due to an injury and possibly increasing financial pressure, but in the meantime the Citizens’ Advice website can also prove a valuable and reliable resource.
Limiting Your Financial Loses
If you do decide to seek the expertise of a ‘no win no fee’ (aka a contingent fee) lawyer or legal firm, thoroughly research the company or lawyer and their services; some legal companies, such as AYB Law with whom clients can claim directly on their website, cutting out much of the time and stress. Once you have filled in what is a very short and straight forward online claim form an AYB personal injury lawyer will telephone you. Hence, you also save the cost of a telephone call. This may seem petty, but if you have experienced a personal injury you may not be able to visit many of the people you need to speak to in-person. Then, phone calls and phone bills more specifically can quickly mount up, putting you under even more stress on what may already be a financially difficult time.
Blackwater Law are a well known example of a legal company who specialise in the handling of contingent fee personal injury claims. You shouldn’t seek their services without carrying out your own research, but the reason I have chosen to mention them is that Blackwater Law happen to provide clients (depending on their case) with the option of ‘early referral for free and professional medical treatment, such as a chiropractor [...]to ensure you receive the best medical treatment you need, without being placed on a NHS waiting list.’
Equally worth exploring are Questus. Questus are a legal outsourcing company who hit the legal news in 2012 because they outsource contingent fee personal claims cases who practise ‘white label’ practises. ‘White label’ practises are considered the most ethical, when it comes to the controversial ‘no win no fee’ personal injuries cases.
What if the claims company I choose mismanage my case?
If the claims company you opt for mismanage your case, contact the Legal Ombudsman for help and support.
I know the mere thought of this happening is not something anybody wants to accept as a possible reality. Unfortunately, it does happen from time to time and if it happens to you or a loved one your only option is to despair or muster what energy you have left and direct it toward resolving your situation.
Most Importantly and Lastly – Do Not Lose Hope
If you have survived reading this blog, you can survive the process ahead; just remember, a sense of humour is often the best means of keeping your sanity in what can be a lengthy and (at times) maddening situation and process; so, don’t lose it!