The insurance industry states that it is capable of looking after the interest of individuals who are injured at work and on the road etc. This case illustrates that individuals have to be extremely careful and cautious if they are to allow an insurer to ‘help’ them directly.

Mr N, a scaffolder in Sheffield was recommended to us by a colleague. He had suffered serious injury to his right arm and right leg following a fall from a scaffold at work. The boards had snow and ice on them. Following a telephone call from his wife he was seen at home the same day by Chris Chappell, Solicitor. Instructions were taken and a letter of claim was sent to the local building firm. The case was allocated to me, Richard Meggitt, Solicitor.

Due to the severity of the injury Mr N was informed it would be at least 3 months before he was seen by a medical expert for the purposes of his compensation claim. He was being treated at the Northern General Hospital and further surgery was necessary. In reality it would be many months before a final medical report could be obtained.

In June 2010 the insurers for the responsible employer admitted liability but in the same letter offered £40,000.00. The offer was made before any medical evidence had been obtained and before any advice could be realistically given as to the potential value of the claim. This appeared to be a considerable offer to Mr N and he was tempted to accept it. He had not worked since the accident and wasn’t entitled to any sick pay. The insurers knew that my client would be suffering from financial hardship and thought they could use this to their advantage by settling the claim for less than it was worth. He sought my advice; I made it clear that the offer should not be accepted as the future was so uncertain given that Mr N was in the early stage of recovering from his injuries. The potential value of the claim could be far in excess of £40,000. I also explained we could obtain an interim payment. Mr N accepted my advice and an interim payment of £5000 was received 14 days later. (Indeed further interim payments were made during the claim which ultimately exceeded the original offer.)

It took a further 3 years before the medical expert evidence was finalised. There were numerous reports from a local orthopaedic surgeon and a psychologist, during the 3 year period other low offers were made by the insurer but were rejected. Court proceedings were issued in order to secure further interim payments.

Eventually the claim was particularised in detail in the Summer of 2013. It was only by then that the Claimant could show he was not fit to return to his previous job as a scaffolder. He was able to claim future loss of earnings in addition to payments for injury, past loss of earnings and care provided by his wife. The insurance company attempted, without success, to discredit Mr N by videoing him secretly.

The Claim was settled in October 2013 at a round table meeting, on a full liability basis for more than £220,000.

This story illustrates how easy it is to be undersold by an insurer in a personal injury claim. Local people should use a local Solicitor who specialise in personal injury law.

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