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Survey finds legal system failing those with serious injuries

Many people who have been seriously injured feel unfairly treated by the legal system, according to a recent poll.

The study from the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA), asked 136 people who had made a catastrophic injury compensation claim about their experiences.

The poll found two in five victims of serious personal injury felt they were unfairly treated by the legal system and many were left unsatisfied with the outcome of their claim.

Hannah Bottomley, clinical negligence solicitor at PotterReesDolan, said:

The SIA poll does not, sadly, leave me surprised. As specialist solicitors dealing with serious injury we find ourselves supporting people at the worst time of the lives when a catastrophic injury has forced them to change the way they live. We see time and again victims of clinical negligence who strongly believe in their case being forced to live in terrible circumstances as the NHS will not accept that they have been negligent and fight the claim for years.

In some of the worse matters we have seen victims having to live in unsuitable conditions with no support or therapies for several years only to have the NHS fully admit to the claim just weeks before a trial. Without an admission from the NHS no interim payments are forthcoming and families often have to rely on benefits or savings.

Many of those questioned felt they were waiting for the compensation they deserve for too long and that the compensation they did receive would not meet their lifetime needs.

According to the survey, only 53% of serious injury victims received an interim payment to be used to get their homes and lives adapted to their new injuries. This percentage dropped to 33% when making a clinical negligence claim against the NHS.

The SIA poll also found most victims wanted the legal process to be quicker and many complained that their legal team lacked knowledge and were not open and honest or had their interests at heart.

Hannah added:

From the point of view as someone who acts for seriously injured individuals, it is frustrating that there is a lack of openness and willingness to admit to medical mistakes early on. Early admissions save time and ultimately money as solicitors do not have to spend as much time investigating but, more importantly, they allow the individual to take back control of their lives.

I look forward to reading the full details of the poll which the SIA will be publishing to solicitors in due course but believe until there is an attitude change then those who have been seriously injured will continue to have these concerns and worries.

You can read some of the testimonials from just a few of our satisfied clients which show how this feeling of dissatisfaction is not felt across the board.

Hannah Bottomley is a clinical negligence solicitor with PotterReesDolan. Should you have any queries about the issues raised in this article and wish to speak with Hannah or any other member of the clinical negligence team please contact us on 0161 237 5888 or email Hannah.