Success comes from preparation....

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Who are BL Claims Solicitors

BL Claims Solicitors specialise in personal injury, clinical negligence and travel claims, providing our clients with hands-on support, nationally.

We are rated as one of the top firms in the UK and believe in speaking to our clients in jargon-free language and ensuring you're speaking to a highly qualified lawyer right from the outset

I have recently joined BL Claims Solicitors personal injury team to assist with catastrophic injury claimant cases, having come from working on the other side for the Defendant.

I previously worked for an insurance litigation firm acting for many insurance companies,  which is somewhat different to my role now.

Whilst my Defendant background has given me insight as to how each party operates and the approach they take to managing their files, I am more used to responding to the Claimant's approach rather than having to prepare it myself .

My experience so far has surprised me as to the vast amount of work involved  in getting a case fully prepared. Since joining  the team I have been heavily involved with preparation for a High Court Trial. I have been amazed by the difference in preparation required by the Claimant team from that of the Defendant. I think the Claimant's themselves would be surprised by the level of detail and the work their lawyers put into proving their case and achieving the best possible outcome for them.

I find the key to managing a  case is preparation and extensive investigation into all aspects of a potential claim in order to attempt to reach an early but appropriate settlement. However, sometimes no matter how much investigation is undertaken or how many experts you involve, the only way for the parties to reach a settlement is to have it taken out of their hands and to be decided by a Judge.

So what is involved when the parties cannot reach an agreement? 

Once a Trial date has been fixed the extensive preparation for Trial begins, well for the Claimant anyway. Preparation for Trial is different for each party, but in a  high value or complex case, for the Claimant the reality sinks in that we have to collate all of the evidence we have been gathering for months possibly years into a logical order to be addressed at Trial.

If liability is admitted then it is the collection of possibly thousands of receipts where the date appears to be missing or somewhere along the line the paper has thinned and is now in two parts which is always helpful! Gathering of up to date witness evidence, and expert evidence as well as updating and creating the final Schedule of Loss before preparing the Trial bundle. This can take sometime!

Whilst the majority of this is already organised throughout the life of the case, it is the gathering of all necessary documents to form a logical order for both parties to be able to use efficiently at Trial. 

Witnesses have to be summoned if they are to give oral evidence at the trial and it is possible that during the course of a case (can take many years to get to this stage) that they have forgotten that they have given a statement and can panic when they receive a summons which is why it is a good idea to keep in touch and It is also not unusual for them to move address or change telephone numbers either without mentioning it so can be difficult to reach them!

It is also more difficult to organise/contact witnesses who reside abroad with a large time difference which is what I have found challenging so far! In the higher value or more complex cases there are often many experts involved and you have to ensure they are all available if necessary to give evidence at trial and possibly meet for a conference with the barrister a couple of weeks beforehand.This can be an organisational disaster in itself as these experts are often booked up months in advance! In the meantime the Claimant's solicitor is trying to create a masterpiece of a trial bundle for all parties involved! 

Do the Defendant solicitors do the same preparations? Not exactly.

For the Defendants it is  a totally different story. Whilst they try and take a proactive approach to the case behind the scenes in gathering evidence themselves, in reality they can only react to the Claimant's claim and the approach they are taking with their case.  After all it is for the Claimant to prove their case.

The Defendant's preparation is somewhat different to the Claimant's having done it myself. Once we were given a date for the Trial we would then ensure we requested from the Claimants any documents we did not have to ensure we had full sight of all evidence before viewing and approving the trial bundle index. We would instruct  our chosen Counsel and then sit  back and wait for the Trial bundle (normally numerous lever arch files) to be served so we could review them in full.

From instructions from our insurer client we would often make a last ditch attempt to settle the matter on their best possible terms to avoid going to Trial. The Defendant's may also have a last conference with Counsel to discuss approach to the trial before they are left to battle it out in front of the Judge for him/her to decide.

Joining a Claimant team has been a real culture shock.  It has been a bit of a revelation to see first hand the amount of work that goes in to any case, no matter it's value.


BL Claims Solicitors are here to help

If you would like to talk to someone and discuss a potential claim please call us on 0344 620 6600 anytime between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, or if you would prefer you can email us at info@blclaims.co.uk