There’s no doubt that the word ‘solicitor’ can conjure up nightmare images of dealing with a man wearing a pinstripe suit and using lots of long, complicated words that no one in the room understands except him.

But thankfully, times have changed. It’s easy to forget that solicitors are just people, particularly if you need to use one because your child has suffered from an acquired brain injury.

In fact it’s quite the opposite, in our firm and most specialist child brain injury solicitors I know, you are more likely to see your solicitor and barrister turning up for meetings with your family in casual clothing, to put you and your family at ease.  We can save the suits for formal appearances at court.

Hopefully, this article will break down 4 of the most common myths of working with Personal Injury Solicitor like me.

Myth 1 – The Legal Process is Complicated

I’ve dealt with lots of people with acquired brain injury and their families and I’ve seen first-hand how difficult it can be. The last thing you need at an already stressful time is the added worry of a complicated legal claims process.

By using a specialist solicitor to make your personal injury claim, they can take on all the complicated parts of the process for you so you can focus your energy exactly where you need to right now – on your child and your family.

The legal process itself is pretty straightforward.

  1. We need to look at who was responsible for the accident and ask them to admit their responsibility.
  2. Then we look at your child’s injuries and the impact those injuries will have on the rest of their life. Using our experience and knowledge and working as a team with a specialist barrister and leading medical experts, we’ll estimate the amount of compensation your child should get to take care of their needs for the rest of their life.
  3. Once we have that figure, we need to get agreement from the insurance company of the person responsible for injuries. This is called settlement. We always try to do this in the least stressful way possible. This is usually in a settlement meeting, out of court with the insurers and the solicitors representing them.  Once any amount is agreed it then has to be approved by a Judge to ensure that the settlement outcome is in the best interests of your child.
  4. If not, a Judge will decide on the outcome at a Trial.

Although there are only 4 steps to the process, there is a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure that we have the right evidence from medical experts, care experts and anyone else we think we need to make sure we get the best possible settlement for your child.

You should also know that the claims process can take a long time. Because the accident has happened in childhood, it’s important not to rush the process of the medical expert evidence gathering as we need to get a clear picture of any impact from their injury on their physical, mental health, development, education and care needs as they grow. However once the responsibility for the accident has been admitted, we can start to look at getting you interim payments so you can get specialist private rehabilitation or make any necessary adaptations to your home well before the claim is settled. There are also early steps which can be taken with the Insurers to ask them to pay for early assessment and rehabilitation whilst they are still investigating responsibility for the accident. This will make sure your child starts to get the help and treatment they need from the outset.

As part of the claims process in a serious child brain injury, we’ll appoint an independent Case Manager for your child and your family. We are careful to select somebody who will get on well with you and your child.  Your Case Manager will be closely involved with you and your family and will help put into place the rehabilitation, treatment and care packages your child needs and they’ll help take the strain out of communicating with different hospitals, GPS and doctors and co-ordinate things for you.

Myth 2 – Solicitors Can’t Communicate

I know that as a Solicitor there is a perception that we’re out of touch and can’t communicate, but I promise you that it’s just not true.

We’ll explain the whole process in simple and easy to understand language because it’s so important that you are completely clear about the claims process you’re going to go through.

We’re happy to communicate with you in a way that works for you. We’ll answer emails, talk to you on the phone, meet you face to face or even get on a video call with you if that’s what works best for you.

If you’re not sure about something, or you’re worried I’d encourage you to pick up the phone to your Solicitor and speak to them. Yes I’m here to make sure the legal process works, but I’m also here to make sure you are clear about what’s happening, how long it’s all going to take and what’s going to be involved.

We are really happy to help all our clients and we want to support you through this already difficult time, as you would expect.

Myth 3 – I have to use a local Solicitor

Most people used to use their local Solicitor on the high street, but with an acquired brain injury it’s so important to make sure you use a specialist solicitor who understands the complexities of the injury and the claims process in high value claims. This will make sure you get the very best outcome for your child and they get a settlement that sees them looked after for the whole of their lifetime.

If you want us to visit you at home, we can. We have Solicitors right across England and Wales (Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own legal processes) who can come and see you. As we are starting to ease out of lockdown, we are starting to see clients face to face again, as long as the correct facilities are in place and social distancing is observed for your protection. But we’ve found that even before the Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown, we were already building strong relationships remotely with our clients online and on the phone. Alongside our support, you also have the reassurance that the Case Manager we appoint to help you day to day will be local.

So you shouldn’t worry if your Solicitor isn’t local, just make sure they are specialists in Brain Injury compensation claims so you can really benefit from their expertise.

Myth 4 – Covid-19 has delayed the Claims Process

I can assure you that everyone at Simpson Millar and all firms of solicitors have been working just as hard for all of our clients through lockdown as we were before. There are no hold ups in claims that are just starting or those that are underway.

The Courts are finding new ways to hold hearings so there shouldn’t be any delay no matter where you are in the claims process.

Medical appointments have been impacted slightly, but all the medical experts we use are finding ways to make the whole process as quick and easy as possible through lockdown.

We’ve adapted very well to our new circumstances so you shouldn’t be concerned about any delays and if you are worried about the impact of Coronavirus on your claim, please give us a call to talk through your concerns.

My team of specialist Solicitors and I have helped many people make brain injury claims.

You can read about our client who received £2.5m compensation after a brain injury from a scooter accident. This is particularly relevant as it was one of the first approval hearings done online during the lockdown.

If you’re not sure what to do next regarding making a claim, I’d be happy to speak to you about your options and the next steps.

Melanie Burden