Why a second opinion mattered for injured biker
“If the worst ever happened again, I would come directly to Digby Brown rather than going to my insurance company and being passed to a company that don’t care. I didn’t know I had a choice.”
A 38 year-old man from Dundee was riding his Yamaha YZFR1 north on the A82 between Fort William and Spean Bridge when a driver pulled his car out of the junction and knocked him from his bike.
The driver hadn’t looked, and hadn’t seen him.
Thankfully, his injuries were not life threatening and he made a good recovery. However, he was left with a deformity in his left hand causing ongoing pain and discomfort and was diagnosed with an Adjustment Disorder, which meant getting back on the bike was difficult.
“It took a while for me to get into my head that everyone isn’t trying to kill you when I was out on the bike. I am still constantly thinking “have they seen me?””
At the beginning, he was passed to a panel solicitor by his Legal Expenses Insurer. This is essentially a solicitor appointed to a panel by an insurance company. We know that most panel solicitors pay the referring insurance companies for cases, and we are also are aware that the referral fee has exceeded £1,200 in some cases. This requirement on panel solicitors to pay for referred cases means that panel solicitors need to run cases quickly and cheaply, to get through the work and get paid to recoup the cost of buying in cases. Sometimes, this can be to the detriment of the level of service offered.
“Originally it was my wife that got in touch with my insurer about recovering the cost of my bike and it was then that they put me onto a solicitor for injury compensation. It was a long drawn out process and I was constantly chasing them for updates. They seemed to just want to get my case over and done with and get onto the next case, no-one seemed to care.”
The panel solicitor obtained a medical report and asked for permission to settle his case for £3,400.
“It was the first time I had been through anything like this, but from chatting to others, it seemed very low. I thought there’s something just not right here so I got in touch with Digby Brown for a second opinion.”
Lianda Barnes, Partner in Digby Brown’s Kirkcaldy office, specialises in motorcycle law. After looking at the case she was able to advise that the settlement of £3,400 was not enough for the injuries he had suffered and that further medical evidence would be needed to support his case for compensation. She agreed to take on the case.
Our client had to submit a complaint to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, as the panel solicitors he had been appointed were refusing to allow access to the file without being paid a bill of nearly £4,000. Eventually, they accepted that they were only entitled to be paid for the work done and received a fee of £1,500 conditional upon the complaint being dropped.
Our client just wanted to see his claim resolved, and agreed to drop the complaint on the condition that Digby Brown’s specialist lawyers were able to take his case forward.
Lianda then arranged for the required expert medical report as well as a report from a forensic accountant. His business had been affected when he was unable to work following the accident.
“The service was night and day, couldn’t be any more polar opposites if you tried. Digby Brown were more thorough with my claim, brought in the psychological side of things as I can still see the crash and they brought in an medical expert to check my hand. The service was great and I was kept up to date with everything.”
The car driver’s insurers put forward an offer when they were sent the medical evidence. However, this was not sufficient to compensate for the injuries and losses, and a court action was raised.
The case was litigated in the All Scotland Personal Injury Court, and as the case progressed further, a further two offers were made by the insurers and rejected.
For our client, Digby Brown’s involvement meant he was able to recover over five times more than his previous solicitors had recommended the case settle for. On top of this, insurers also repaid benefits to DWP and covered the costs of his hospital treatment.
He is back to enjoying riding bikes, and working.
“Dealing with Lianda at Digby Brown I could see everything the panel solicitor missed out. They put no effort into the case and it was shoddy. I’m glad I got in touch with Digby Brown for a second opinion and would recommend them to anyone.
Digby Brown has seven offices across Scotland in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Kirkcaldy, Inverness, Aberdeen and Ayr. If you need expert legal advice, contact us on 0333 200 5925 or fill in our enquiry form.