Solicitors found negligent for not talking to their client
November 15, 2013
A judge in Leeds has recently decided that a firm of solicitors were negligent for not talking to their client to make sure he fully understood what he could claim for.
Mr Procter had been a miner and made a claim against his former employers for compensation after developing Vibration White Finger (VWF) in the course of his work. His solicitors, Raleys, obtained a medical report on his injuries which indicated that, amongst other problems, Mr Procter had difficulty gardening. Before developing VWF, he had also done DIY, decorating, and maintained and washed his own car. As a result of his condition, he needed help with these tasks and he was entitled to claim compensation to cover the cost of it.
However, even though the medical report had flagged up the need for help with gardening, Raleys didn't talk to their client about what he could and couldn’t do, what help he needed and how much it might cost. They sent him a questionnaire on which he had to tick boxes to indicate what he wanted to claim. A letter with the questionnaire told Mr Procter that he might qualify for a claim for "services" (which meant help with gardening, DIY, etc) but didn't explain what this meant. He ticked a box saying that he wanted to claim for his pain and suffering but left the other boxes blank.
A few months later, another questionnaire was sent and, again, Mr Procter just ticked one box, this time for "handicap on the labour market". Still the solicitors failed to ask him about "services" and his claim was settled without any compensation for the past and future cost of getting help with his garden, and maintenance of his house and his car.
Mr Procter later took advice from another firm of solicitors who brought a claim against Raleys for the lost compensation for services. Judge Gosnell at Leeds County Court said that it was not too much to ask the solicitor at Raleys to talk to his client in layman's terms about what he could claim for and to make sure he understood what he was being asked. The solicitor should have known that there should be a claim for services and explained it fully to Mr Proctor.
This isn't an everyday occurrence but, if you have a claim you should take care when choosing your solicitors – some firms try so hard to be efficient by dealing with everything by post and email that they forget to take the time to talk to their clients. At Marsons, while we have clients all over the country, we still think it's important to talk to them on the phone and, in person wherever possible. We get to know you, so that we can understand your needs and the difficulties you have as a result of your injuries – then we can make sure we give you the best service and obtain the full compensation you need. In the end, it's your claim and we are here to help you get through the legal process and back on your feet.
Andrew Procter v Raleys Solicitors (2013)
The information contained in this article is intended for general guidance only. It provides useful information but it is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice as the articles do not take into account specific circumstances. So do please Contact US for legal advice on the issues raised.