My Old Life as a Personal Injury Lawyer

In my life I have often been asked what life is like for a personal injury lawyer. Many people assume that a personal injury lawyer is impervious to the many stories of pain and suffering because we have heard so many. They assume that we have made millions of dollars during our careers and that we live life doing whatever we please.

Now that I have retired and am living in the UK I have had time to really consider what my old life as a personal injury lawyer was like, and I thought it could make an interesting blog post, so here it is.

A Personal Injury Attorney

To understand what my life was like then you have to understand what I did professionally. As a personal injury claims lawyer I went to battle for people who, through no fault of their own, had been injured by someone else’s negligent behaviour.

Many of the people I represented were injured to the point that their entire lives were changed forever. If those individuals did not have legal representation then the insurance companies would have paid them a small pittance that would not have been anywhere near the amount of money they had to put out on their injuries. I feel that I was an advocate for the people who could not stand up and fight for their own rights. I was a crusader for equality, and justice.

What kind of cases I was Involved in

During my days of active practice I represented people who were injured in slip and fall accidents, auto accidents, heavy machinery accidents, medical malpractice injuries, sports related injuries, birth related injuries and just about any other personal injury you could think of.

I represented any person who came to me with an injury that was the result of actions of another person, the lack of actions of another person, or equipment failure. I helped people to negotiate with the insurance companies and their solicitors. Some injury claims lawyers only practice one specific type of injury law, but I have worked on almost every type there is.

What kind of person makes a good personal injury lawyer?

In order to be successful in this profession a person must be able to have empathy for the pain and suffering of others. A good personal injury lawyer cares about other people and is capable of visualizing themselves in situations that are closely related to the ones their clients are going through.

The professionals must be determined in order to put forth the effort it requires to fight the big insurance companies and make them pay for the damages their clients are responsible for. A personal injury claim is looked on by the big insurance companies as a nuisance. The insurance representative will do everything in their power to pay the injured party the least amount of money that they can for the damages caused in their accident.

Sometimes insurance representatives make offers to injured people so fast after an accident that the injured person does not even know the full extent of their condition. As an attorney representing the injured I scrutinized these offers to determine if they were fair, or if they were simply a way to get someone to take a little money and forget that they had their lives altered. As an attorney I had to be educated on all aspects of the personal claims laws, and I even had to have a working knowledge of medical terminology.

I would also say that these attorneys have to be ready to be available to their clients virtually 24/7. Not all clients can come into an office so the attorney must be willing to go to medical facilities and to private homes to meet with their clients. Being available and flexible is crucial if you want to be a successful personal injury lawyer.

What do I consider to be a successful personal injury lawyer?

I consider a lawyer that has a client base that is represented tirelessly to be successful. If the lawyer can look back on the cases they helped and see that in more than ninety percent of the cases the people they represented were better off for having known them then they were a true success.

If you can look back like I am doing now and see that for most of your clients you were able to negotiate a fair settlement that kept the client from having the hassle of court proceedings then you were successful.

G Macs final thought

If at the end of the day you can be proud of your accomplishments, if you can say you did your best, then you are a success. Personal injury is an emotional type of law that requires you to remain calm and collected despite how you are really feeling. It requires you to give your clients one hundred percent of your attention, and for you to devote however much time it takes to make sure that the injured are compensated for their loss.

Can The Spam

Following on from a previous post here I thought it would be helpful to raise awareness of the Can The spam campaign.

When I was dealing with personal injury claims in the past, I heard case after case where people were considering not claiming as they thought we were all national companies, employing cheap staff who didn’t know what they were doing and were only in it for making money for the company rather than the claimant. I’d ask why they thought that and in most cases it was down to the cold calls, automated calls or text messages from cheap call centres. Most people have the same reaction as I do when they receive a claims company cold calling them – to hang up the phone. It just gives the impression of a poorly managed sector in the personal injury claims sector that put people off.

The fact is, from my experience, that some companies do employ cheap lead generators. They think they can call, call again and keep calling and people will give in. Or if they aren’t successful then they sell your details on to another company. Even worse than cold callers is when you run halfway through the house to answer the phone and there’s an automated message offering you the services of a claims management company. How many people listen past the first few words these days? As soon as I realize it’s an automated call I simply hang up.

Can The Spam campaign

Well back in June 2016 APIL (the association of personal injuries lawyers) launched the “Can The Spam” campaign and I am fully behind it. It’s about time! Solicitors are unable to cold call, by law, and APIL are calling for that to be a blanket ban on everyone including claims management company’s (not that they all cold call).

According to the Information Commissioner the number of cold calls and text messages doubled from 2014 to 2015 and shows no sign of stopping, so I’m saying that everyone get behind APIL to stop this practice. Even people who are using the free Telephone Preference Service, which should stop unsolicited calls to their number, are reporting the nuisance calls.

When APIL held their annual conference back in May they were lucky enough to get Lord Faulkes as their key note speaker. He said that society has a cost directly from the “substantial industry that encourages unnecessary, inappropriate, or even fraudulent claims through cold calling and other social nuisances and which increases premiums for customers.” In effect he was basically saying that the cost of insurance premiums for everyone else goes up because of wrongly claimed injury compensation.

Neil Sugarman who heads up APIL said “Cold calling for personal injury claims is exploitative, tasteless, and intrusive. Solicitors are not allowed to do it, for these very good reasons. But some claims management companies continue to hound people in this way and we want the government to put a total ban on the practice.”

What APIL want is for people to log any nuisance calls with them via Twitter or their Facebook page and give as much detail as possible, like: when was the call received, what number was it from, was a company name mentioned, was it a phone call or text message and any other relevant information you can give. APIL will then pass this on to the regulator.

APIL wants a total ban on cold calling (and I agree) but the government hasn’t taken this step as yet so the more companies that can be forced to stop by collating this information the better. The government has also linked cold calls and nuisance calling with removing the right of some claims against whiplash injuries which I think is ludicrous. If you’ve been genuinely injured then you have a genuine right to be compensated in my eyes. If some unscrupulous claims firms are inventing or helping people to claim for invented injuries then it’s got to be a good thing for everyone if APIL’s actions are successful in reducing these types of companies or reducing their practises.

In my opinion the sector should be allowed to advertise their services, should be allowed to take calls from customers and should be able to work reactively not proactively. Cold calls are usually very annoying and put pressure on the agent to make false claims or offer unrealistic amounts of money for claims which can never be achieved. The pressure on sales agents then passes down to the consumer who can be led down the path of making false or fraudulent claims that they would’ve never considered themselves before the cold caller made contact.

G Macs final thought

Call centres cost money to setup and more money to pay the staff each day, the only way that money is recovered is by making claims against insurance policies and the only way that money is earned back by the insurers is to increase the premiums that everybody pays for their insurance. I say ‘Can The Spam’ now to improve the costs of insurance for everyone.

Personal Injuries, What Can I Claim For?

I still often get asked what sort of injuries can I claim compensation for and I generally give the same response, “If you were injured, are made ill or contract a disease and it was somebody else’s fault then you can almost certainly make a claim”.

The next question that usually follows is “How much can I get?” and my response for that one is always “It varies”.

So many factors contribute towards compensation payouts that I will never give an estimate to anyone, especially friends, without full understanding what the injury was, what affect it had on the person and what negligence took place to cause the injury.

It’s very easy to look at websites that claim ‘we can get you £10,000 for your broken little finger’ but the truth is I’ve never put a price on any claim without knowing all of the details.

When looking at the types of things people can claim for I usually fit them into one of these types of claims:

  • Traffic accident

Traffic claims are one of the most common and cover a fair few types of accident. Pedestrians and cyclists involved in collisions with motor vehicles, driver and passenger injuries following collisions and motorcyclists being knocked off of their bikes.

If you’re injured as a result of the driver of a vehicle colliding with you or your vehicle then you’ve got every right to make a claim for compensation against the drivers insurance.

  • Accident in the workplace

Workplace accidents do happen and if they happen due to negligence then you can make a claim. Even if your employer has safety systems in place you may still be able to claim if another employee or manager were negligent.

Under the health and safety at work act all employers must protect employees, visitors and customers on their premises by completing risk assessments and working out what can be done to reduce the risks.

  • Serious injury

The main reason people make claims for serious injuries is because there are usually serious financial losses involved for the injured party. Temporary or permanent loss of employment and temporary and ongoing medical costs that can’t be paid for any more.

Serious injuries can involve brain injury, spinal injury or very serious head injuries amongst others.

  • Environmental health injuries

Bacterial food poisoning, carbon monoxide poisoning and conditions caused by pesticides are some examples of environmental health injuries. Exposure to chemicals or gases can also be looked into if there was a short or long term affect on your health or disfigurement of your body.

  • Accident in a Public Place

I used to see loads of accident claims for accidents in public places. Potholes and poorly maintained paths are a big reason, poorly maintained stores or slippery store floors are also common reasons for making a claim.

If there were warning signs then the case is less likely so gathering evidence (photographic) to show there wasn’t any is useful for claim evidence. In the case of poorly maintained roads if the local authority or one of it’s contractors has highlighted the defect then get evidence of that to.

  • Medical negligence (Clinical negligence)

Examples of medical negligence can include surgery mistakes, poor or misdiagnosis and injuries at birth.

You often hear of wrong parts of the body being treated reported in the press as well as leaving medical instruments inside the body of a patient following open surgery. This is quite a specialist area in personal injury compensation so you do need to deal with a specialist.

  • Product defect or dangerous products

If you have an injury while using a product and you were using within the manufacturer’s recommendations then you may have a claim.

Chemicals leaking and burning you, products setting on fire or seating which collapses are all good examples of product defects.

Try to get photographic evidence of the defect and the damage it has caused. You’ll need to document as much as possible as large companies can have legal teams that don’t want to pay out to avoid an influx of complaints of a similar nature.

G Macs final thought

Once the accident has been defined I usually look at the severity of the injury ranging from fairly minor injuries through to fatalities to work out a compensation amount.

The main thing with all personal injury claims is that it has to be down to someone else’s negligence. If you have an accident and it was just that, an accident, then there is no one to claim against.

If somebody or an organisation has forgotten to do something or deliberately chosen not to do something then they are to blame for your injury and you can claim compensation.


G Mac.