A solicitor has warned that many accident victims suffering from chronic pain conditions are not receiving adequate legal representation.
Richard Lowes, a Partner at the Bath office of BLB Solicitors, has warned that this is leading to many accident victims being grossly under-compensated.
“Many people find themselves represented by a law firm who are effectively appointed for them by an insurance company or a claims company”, he said. “Many of these law firms are little more than call centre operations, staffed mainly by people with no formal legal qualifications and little experience.”
Mr Lowes says that these on-screen claims handlers very often fail to recognise the importance of the warning flags when clients report unusual symptoms.
“The emphasis seems all about achieving a speedy settlement”, he said, “whether or not it adequately compensates their client. Success in a chronic pain case is entirely dependent upon the medical evidence. However, they instruct inadequately qualified medical experts – often GP’s – through third party medical agencies. Even when they do instruct consultants, they are very often in the wrong medical specialism, given the symptoms complained of.
“I was recently instructed by a gentleman who had been involved in a road traffic accident two years ago. Unrelated to his claim, his GP had referred him to a consultant in pain management, who had diagnosed Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Despite that diagnosis, his former solicitors proceeded to instruct a consultant orthopaedic surgeon.”
Mr Lowes says that there is also a fear of challenging medical opinion. “Quite simply, if a medical opinion does not sound right, the solicitor should be asking questions. Either write to the medical expert, or as I tend to do, pick up the phone and speak to them. These people aren’t infallible; they often make mistakes, usually quite innocently, due to wrong assumptions, poor communication or a failure to properly review the medical records.”
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