Barratts are “one of the best in the country”

Excellence shown on a compass

The Legal 500 is an independent guide which ranks the best legal firms in the UK. Barratts Solicitors are proud that the firm is not only ranked by Legal 500 but is consistently placed in the top 1st tier every year. To achieve this accolade every year is testament to the firm’s commitment to have experienced lawyers handling compensation claims.

The Legal 500 entry gives more information about our lawyers and some examples of cases that we have been involved in for 2016/17:

Fantastic niche firm’ Barratts Solicitors is ‘one of the best in the country’, advising solely on personal injury and clinical negligence cases of maximum severity, such as cerebral palsy and birth injury, spinal and brain injury, and delayed diagnosis and treatment. The clinical negligence department, led by Alison Brooks, is currently investigating quantum of a wrongful birth claim for a child born with severe microcephaly and suffering from cerebral palsy, epilepsy and other health complications. In Peppard v Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the team claimed damages for paraplegia resulting from delayed diagnosis and treatment of cord compression and venous thrombophlebitis. Emma Zukowska represented a patient of George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust in a trial contested on liability arising from delayed diagnosis of appendicitis followed by peritonitis. The ‘intelligent, tactically astute and hardworking’ Julie Hardy, praised as a ‘model solicitor’, settled claims for delayed diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension, glaucoma and ectopic pregnancy. Court of Protection specialist Julie Greenwood is claiming delay in delivery and resuscitation resulting in dyskinetic cerebral palsy. Personal injury practice head Ed Myers handled litigation proceedings arising from a fatal road traffic accident of a British citizen in France and represented two healthcare workers claiming assault in the workplace against their employer. Other work on the personal injury side included serious road traffic accidents and asbestosis claims. David Tomlinson is also recommended, as is associate Debra Morris, who heads the Derby office. Malcolm Goff has retired.

All our lawyers who were working at Barratts in 2016-17 are personally named.  We think this is unique to our firm. We know that our clients need advice they can trust from lawyers who know what they are talking about. The 8 lawyers share nearly 200 years expertise between them.

Our commitment to helping injured clients was praised by other solicitors, medical experts, barristers, professionals working with those affected by spinal or brain injury, and, last but not least, our clients.

Ed Myers was also named as a leading individual. We could not be more proud of our latest entry in Legal 500.

To find out more about Legal 500, you can also go to their website at http://www.legal500.com.

World Cerebral Palsy Day

On 6th October, we will be celebrating the achievements of everyone living with Cerebral Palsy. Our clinical negligence team have been privileged to work with Cerebral Palsy children for the last 3o years. We  are delighted that a special day has been set aside to recognise this wonderful group in our communities.

World CP Day is a not for profit global movement. It has members across 60 countries and has 6 main aims:

  1. Public Awareness
  2. Civil Rights
  3. Medical/Therapeutic
  4. Quality of Life
  5. Education
  6. Making Our Contribution.
We make it possible

Changing the impossible to possible.

Public Awareness

World CP Day encourages everyone to raise awareness of CP and dispel myths about the condition. Many still feel uncomfortable talking to a person with CP. Some cultures feel shame and others might over protect a child with CP. Mothers around the world have used the movement to promote positive stories and reduce the stigma faced by some children with CP.

Civil Rights

We all know that the treatment of disabled children can vary around the world. In some countries the Government oppose any rights for children with CP.

There is a great video on the World CP Day website by Michelle Middleton in Liverpool. Please view this to learn the “Do’s and Dont’s of Disability”:

https://worldcpday.org/our-campaign/civilrights/michelle-middleton-fixers/

Medical/Therapeutic

The cause of CP is still unknown in many cases. Our own experience of clinical negligence cases is that few are related to damage at the time of birth. The more we can learn about this condition the better the chance of finding effective treatment to prevent CP.

In some countries better access to health care would avoid CP. Knowing the diagnosis sooner also gives better access to therapy. Barratts’ solicitors know that clients are often not told their child has CP until many years after the birth.

Alison Brooks, in our clinical negligence department, has also seen 1st hand how children with CP can benefit from Conductive Education (CE), especially if introduced at a young age. Alison is a trustee of School for Parents which offers CE to pre school children.

Quality of Life

Accessing everyday opportunities and being part of a community can help us all to enjoy life. It is vital that anyone with CP has the same access. Equally important is access to basic needs.

We know of children in Africa who are left on the floor all day because there is no equipment. Let’s spread the message and help improve the lives of people with CP.

Education

Access to education gives the best chance to lead a fulfilling life. Even in the UK, access to the right support in schools is a struggle. We often have to fight for clients to get additional help and equipment can often be inadequate. This means that children cannot communicate properly and their learning is affected.

Outside the UK, many children with disability do not even attend school. You might find the education packs on the World CP Day  website useful:

https://worldcpday.org/our-campaign/education/

Making Our Contribution

Contributing to the world around us means we feel valued yet few adults with CP are working and we rarely see people with CP in the media.

Halldor Bjarnason talks about becoming a father, helping to make the world more inclusive. Alison also has a client with CP who has become a father; that child will have a more accepting view of the world and be richer for it. You can read Halldor’s blog here:

https://worldcpday.org/parenting-with-a-disability-halldor-bjarnason/

Lets all celebrate World CP Day; please spread this news story to encourage us all to think more about CP.

 

 

 

 

 

Insurer Profits Remain High

Three insurance companies have posted healthy profits in their 2017 first half interim results. Has this also led to a reduction in the cost of car insurance premiums charged to drivers?

The Results

Aviva’s half year results for 2017 show that its overall operating profit rose by 11%, and that UK motor insurance premiums increased by 9% (from £530 million to £580 million). The dividend paid out to shareholders went up by 13%.

AXA also reported strong half year performance with a 4% increase in underlying earnings, and a 6% growth in revenue from UK motor insurance.

Direct Line reported a 9.5% increase in operating profits in its interim half year results for 2017. In early 2017, Direct Line increased its motor insurance prices to its customers by 6.6%, compared with the same time in 2016, blaming the increase on proposed plans to adjust the Discount Rate and on an “anticipated increase in claims inflation”.

However, in its interim results paper, the Direct Line Group has said that “bodily injury claims continued to trend more favourably than expected”, meaning that it has paid out less than expected. The insurer also said that its motor line continued to grow gross written premiums, which was up 10%, with Direct Line driving the growth.

Do Drivers Benefit from Insurer’s Profits?

Claimant lawyers have asked insurers to justify profits  at a time when the average cost of comprehensive car insurance cover is at a record high of £690 – an increase of 19.6% in a year. Insurers do not detail how they calculate premiums but a need to be more transparent is gaining momentum; in particular The Daily Telegraph investigation eerlier this month revealed that repair costs were being inflated by insurers as much as 100%. Their report showed that some insurers were doubling the actual cost of car repairs in exchange for financial kickbacks.

The Government  is under pressure from insurers to change the law to make it more difficult for those injured on the roads or at work to make a claim for damages. They  argue that this was the only way to lower prices for motorists, but behind the scenes insurers are not passing on profits to car drivers.

We know that last year road accident claims dropped by 7% and workplace accident and disease claims by 21%. Insurers have stated that a recent increase in the way that future damages are calculated will impact their profits and suggest that savings will be passed on to drivers. We wait to see if this will happen, especially as the Government are set to again reduce the calculations for future damages for injured clients. Will this saving be passed on to drivers if that happens?

 

Top Tips for Personal Budgets

Many of our clients rely on support from the Government to pay for care. The system of Personal Budgets allows parents or carers to apply for financial help from their local council. The procedures and criteria for each council are not the same which makes the whole process confusing and inconsistent.

Alison Brooks recently attended a talk, given by Nottingham City Council  (“NCC”). They gave helpful advice about how to apply for a personal budget (“PB”) and what is covered. Here are some tips you might find useful but please note that every case is decided individually and another council may be different.

What are PBs

  1. Personal budgets cover education, health or social care. They are used to meet the additional needs of a disabled child. They do not cover the usual costs of bringing up a child. This means they do not include costs for childcare so a carer or parent can go to work, even though we know some families struggle to find suitable care for a disabled child.
  2. There is no minimum age limit but councils are reluctant to pay a PB for babies and young children as they would need more help than an older child. Direct payments will stop at age 18 unless the child is in a special school when payments continue to the end of the next school year at age 19.
  3. Payments are usually made direct to the parent who can use the funds to provide respite care or extra help for their child.
  4. Some payments are made to the provider, for example education payments to a school or social and health payments to a care agency.

What Can You Claim?

  1. NCC will pay up to £1,600 if your child has a diagnosed disability, without needing another assessment.
  2. You can also claim up to £6,000 without an assessment but your child will need evidence from a multi agency assessment to show more help is needed.
  3. Your needs will usually be assessed by a social worker if you need a higher budget, for example, overnight short breaks for respite. NCC will fund up to £9,000 per annum.
  4. For those families with very complex needs, a budget over £9,000 can be paid. This is available to children with exceptional health care needs and usually also involves a specialist nurse assessing your child.
  5. Please note this criteria is only applied by NCC. Find out from your own council about their pathways for claiming.

Applying for a Personal Budget

It can be time consuming applying for help. Consider if a close relative or friend can assist; they may have noticed when help is needed that you have not thought about.

Here are some items to think about including in your application

  • Keep a note of extra time you spend in the day and at night for your disabled child compared to one of their siblings.
  • Keep a diary or take photos of times when you have needed someone to help your child access social events.
  • Are you a single parent? Councils are more likely to increase help if you are coping alone.
  • Are there other circumstances at home which might affect your child’s needs, for example, looking after an elderly relative or another child with special needs.
  • What about your own health? It is vital that parents and carers remain healthy and often we see families struggling to look after their own health needs.
  • Keep details of payments and a record of activities which were not covered by the PB plan. You may want to consider adding these to the PB when you apply the next year.
  • If your child’s needs increase, let the council know. The council is able to review PB plans before the annual review takes place.
  • If you need to employ a carer, include the cost of an agency to set up payroll.
  • If your carer may need training, for example, how to move a disabled child safely, then include the costs for manual handling training courses.

If you are not getting enough to help your child, the more evidence you have, the more likely the council will be able to help.

Using Personal Budget Payments

You will need to set up a separate bank account to keep a record of payments. Most councils, including NCC, will monitor paments to make sure you use the money for the needs identified in the support plan. The PB must be used for specific care needs but can include help for your child to mix with their peer group and to achieve as much independance as possible. Accessing social and leisure activities can be included in your plan so make a note of the cost for a carer coming with you.

NCC require 3 monthly monitoring of bank statements and documents. Check what your council needs so you can make sure you have the right information for them. NCC make it easier by setting up an account which they can monitor. This is a good option for busy families and saves you time

If you need to employ carers, make use of the help councils provide to put you in touch with an agency to set up payment. They will include DBS checks as well as making sure pension and payroll and properly set up. YOu will need to keep a record of time spent emplying the carer. Whilst the cost of using an agency will come out of your PB, if you include it in your plan, the money will be there for you to use.

Carers may also want to attend courses on safeguarding (which is usally free to attend) and you may want to ask for money in your PB to cover manual handling courses.

Summary

Working your way through direct payments for Personal Budgets is hard when you are coping with a child with special needs. Do contact your local council to get as much help as possible. It is regrettable that PBs are still a postcode lottery and what one council will pay may vary from each area. We can only suggest you get as much informaton as possible to support your application and ask the council for advice before you send it in.

The council can also tell you about any other services yo might use. We know that NCC has a “Max Card” which families can use for free or discounted access to an event or venue; see www.mymaxcard.co.uk

Get advice from your local doctors and therapists. If you have a social worker, ask them what you can claim and ask other families about their experience – knowledge is power!

 

 

How To Recognise Subtle Brain Injury

Debra Morris, Chair of Headway Derby, has written about Subtle Brain Injury (SBI) in the latest addition to our website pages. Check out the details on our Personal Injury section, with guidance and advice about the signs of SBI.

Debra shares her knowledge of clients who had SBI yet their diagnosis was often missed by medical professionals. This is because SBI can often involve concussion without  losing consciousness and is therefore treated as a minor injury. It is vital to look out for signs of SBI, for example, dizziness or changes in behaviour.

There are experts who can determine if a client has suffered a SBI and this can make all the difference to clients. If you have SBI it can affect your future, including getting back to work. It is therefore essential that clients get the right advice to secure the right amount of compensation.  Debra specialises in SBI which means she knows who to turn to for the right medical assessments and can support clients during their fight for compensation. Don’t leave your future in the hands of a solicitor if they do not specialise in SBI.

Please read Debra’s page on SBI for more information or call Debra for free and impartial advice.

“Absolutely fantastic” service

This was the response from our client, Rae Scudder, who sent a note to Ed Myers and his assistant, Sue, after her road traffic claim settled.

On the evening of 16 November 2015, Rae was travelling home from her late shift,on on her moped, when she was hit by a vehicle which turned directly into her path.  Rae, a keen and talented dancer, sustained serious injury to both legs requiring intensive hospital treatment.  She underwent extensive physiotherapy, but was unable to either dance or teach dancing for many months.  Gradually however, through determination and commitment, she was able to resume her passion for dancing.

Ed Myers lawyer at Barratts Legal

How Did We Help Rae?

At Barratts we prioritise rehabilitation; Ed was able to assist Rae by persuading the insurers of the car driver to agree to an urgent initial assessment of Rae’s needs. This enabled us to get a payment to fund rehabilitation. This meant Rae could recover more quickly from her injuries meaning she could also get back to dancing much sooner.

Rae describes Ed’s advice as “straightforward, honest and trustworthy”. We pride ourselves that clients are recommended to come to Barratts for a personal, specialist service. That is why it’s great news to hear Rae tell us that “You made a difficult time much easier and I felt treated with dignity and respect throughout.”

Sue helped Rae by communicating direct with the Vehicle recovery company, making “complicated and confusing” jargon understandable. Indeed, Rae says that Sue remained “calm and collected” and she had”incredible support and service” from our Personal Injury team.

After lengthy negotiations, Ed persuaded the insurers to accept responsibility for the accident. They paid compensation for Rae’s physical and psychological injuries. The insurers also compensated Rae for her future losses because her injuries were likely to affect her career as a dancer.

We ask clients to tell us how we can improve our service. Rae said there was nothing – she thinks we are “efficient, professional and welcoming- I can’t praise them enough”.

Spinal Injury Association Survey Revealed

The Spinal Injury Association (the “SIA”) polled 136  people with spinal cord injury (“SCI”) to seek their views about litigation. The results show that the current system is too slow but, more importantly, the experience of their lawyer had a significant impact on the person’s compensation. Why are Clients With SCI Unhappy With Their Lawyers? […]

New Member of Staff To Join Us

We are delighted to confirm that Wendy Davies will be joining our accounts department next month. We will be saying goodbye to Karla-Marie Roberts who leaves us to join her sister’s family business. More on Karla’s time at Barratts to follow.

Law Firm Barratts Expands Reach Into Derby

Barratts have been based in Nottingham for over 25 years. We started the New Year by opening a new office in Derby city, responding to increasing demand for our specialism in high value personal injury and clinical negligence claims in the East Midlands.

Our firm, whose Derby office opened on January 24th, has been independently ranked in the top tier in its specialism for over 20 years. It is one of the few in the area with the experience to deal with complex injury claims and is receiving an increasing amount of referrals from the Derbyshire area.

Client care, assistance with rehabilitation and rebuilding lives are principles which underpin the way that Barratts handles cases. We are able to secure funds for clients quickly, which enables them to engage in the recovery process sooner, working closely with professionals, who install home adaptations, supply mobility equipment and provide home care.

Partner Ed Myers, is Chair of Headway Nottingham and he spoke to the media about the decision to open a dedicated Derby Office – “Opening an office in central Derby reflects the increasing number of clients who are based in Derby and the rise in the number of referrals from the Derby area. As part of our strategic development plan we’re anxious to provide the best and most convenient service to all clients who have suffered serious injuries, and we are confident this move will be successful.”

The newly opened office in the Old Court House, St. Peter’s Church Yard will link Barratts to Derbyshire head injury charities and medical professionals, as well as provide a closer base for clients who may not want to travel to Nottingham. If you need advice and are living near Derby please call us on our new phone number: 01332 565395

Associate Debra Morris, who was previously based in Derby for over 10 years, said of her return to the city – “I’m really pleased to have a base here from which we can continue to help and support people rebuilding their lives after serious injury. It makes it so much easier for our clients in this area and is a first step for our continuing expansion plans in the Derby area.”

Word of our expansion into Derby has already made the news.

http://www.thebusinessdesk.com/eastmidlands/news/12826-nottingham-law-firm-opens-derby-office

Alison Brooks Awarded Honorary Membership of AvMA’s Clinical Negligence Panel

We are delighted to announce that Alison Brooks, head of our Clinical Negligence Department, was invited to become an Honorary member of AvMA. This was “in recognition of her work on behalf of injured patients and their families and her longstanding and continuing contribution in the fields of clinical negligence and patient safety.” The certificate runs until December 2019 so Alison has plenty of time to continue the fight for patient safety and support of AvMA.

AvMA was established in 1982 aftere public response to a TV programme about medical accidents. It is the leading patients’ charity so we are especially proud of Alison’s achievement, which is the result of over 30 years spent acting on behalf of injured patients.

Alison began her career defending doctors but, after qualifying as a solicitor, she decided to help those affected by medical negligence. One of her 1st cases involved a young boy with Cerebral Palsy. He was one of the first claimants in the UK to receive a guaranteed annual income from the NHS to pay for his future care needs. She was even invited to speak to Claimant lawyers, at a conference in Australia, about using compensation to guarantee annual payments. It is still part of our advice for clients today. Alison has taken many cases to trial over the years and knows how stressful this is for our clients. Her ability to put clients at ease and to reassure them is vital in the job we do.

We asked Alison what she recalls about clinical negligence in the 1980’s. Cases would go to trial without any disclosure of expert reports, which meant that neither side would know what the medical experts had to say about the case. The exchange of reports well before trial is obviously one change for the better!

Alison has also been involved in many inquests over 30 years, which are an opportunity to get answers for clients in a less intimidating setting. It can highlight lessons to be learned from medical mistakes. This is still as vital today as it was 30 years ago. The ethos of AvMA and our own approach to clinical negligence is to look beyond the financial compensation; Alison’s work has involved the support of families, seeking answers, in a caring environment. She remains committed to ensuring access to justice and improvement of patient safety for all.