Personal injury lawyers are often failing to act in the best interests of seriously injured clients, according to a law firm’s online poll.
The survey by Nockolds Solicitors found that a large majority (81%) of rehabilitation case managers had experienced a situation where a claimant solicitor had ‘clearly not acted in the best interests of the client’.
Yasmin Ameer, solicitor at Nockolds, said that “never in a million years” did the firm, based in Hertfordshire and London, expect its poll of 143 rehab specialists to deliver this result.
“It is extremely concerning and has wide-reaching implications – but we mustn’t rush to judgement.”
Ms Ameer said that, in one incident, a solicitor advised a client against taking on a part-time job because it might reduce the eventual settlement.
“In another case, an immigration solicitor took on a high-value personal injury case and the client suffered because he did not receive the support, treatment and interim payments he desperately needed.”
Ms Ameer said that in a further example, a client was admitted onto a mental health ward with paranoia. Her solicitor wanted her to continue with expert witness appointments even though the case manager said it would not be in the client’s best interests because of the state of her mental health.
A majority of case managers involved in the Nockolds survey were appointed by claimant solicitors (54%) – almost all (84%) before the client received a financial settlement.
The survey also revealed that 69% of case managers had been verbally abused either by their clients or clients’ families, while 13% had been physically assaulted.
Most of them (69%) said they had experienced a situation where the client’s family had not acted in his or her best interests.
The vast majority (93%) believed that the statutory services available to their clients within the community were not up to the required standard, and for most (61%) the biggest frustration was the speed at which funding was made available.
Most case managers (52%) viewed the ability to form strong relationships as the most important skill for them to possess, as opposed to problem-solving ability (28%) or in-depth knowledge of the client’s condition (20%).
More than a third (36%) of case managers had experienced mental health problems as a result of their work.
Ms Ameer concluded: “In my experience, personal injury solicitors provide an outstanding service for seriously injured clients, but case managers play a hugely important part in the rehabilitation process and we must respect what they are saying.
“There is clearly a perception – rightly or wrongly – that solicitors are, on occasions, not acting in the best interests of their injured client. Now we know that this perception exists, it is our duty to make doubly sure that we act in a way which reassures case managers.”