I work mainly for insurers and act in the best interests of them, as well as their policyholders, in defence of matters related to health and safety. This may be either from a police, CQC or HSE prosecution/investigation, coroner’s inquest or defence of a civil claim for compensation.
I have been fortunate to work on some high-profile and highly sensitive matters such as a tower block fire causing multiple fatalities, incidents on several film productions, a major incident during the building of Wembley Stadium and many care home related serious injuries and deaths. A large proportion of my work now relates to the adventure activities sector and the fire services.
Perhaps the most unique case involved a claimant who sued Sainsburys after suffering a brain injury when, as a cyclist, he was struck by a Sainsburys HGV. He made a remarkable recovery but then chose to exaggerate the impact of his injuries for the sake of his compensation claim.
He pleaded – via his litigation friend – that he had no sense of danger, could not cross a road alone, was never allowed to supervise his children, couldn’t use a mobile phone and had no concept of money. The surveillance footage that we obtained showed him walking to Tesco with two small children – which involved crossing several roads – whilst using his mobile phone, and going in to purchase various items with cash that he took from his pocket.
Following disclosure there was a swift settlement of his claim and our client instructed us to pursue contempt of court proceedings leading to a custodial sentence for him and his family members – who were complicit in the deceit. For me, it led to my 15 minutes of fame as I appeared on the BBC daytime programme of “Claimed and Shamed” where I talked about the case.
If I had to give one key piece of advice to an insurer it’s that in the wake of a serious incident seek legal advice quickly. Some of the hardest cases to defend are those where comments are made, or documents are created, before we become involved.
As for my workday, it begins in Milton Keynes where I live with my husband, two daughters, rottweiler and an elderly cat. I start the day by setting up my to-do list where I have two client reports to finalise.
Working within insurance, risk and regulatory law always has its fair share of interesting cases. My first report involves a child who suffered a spinal cord injury after falling from a climbing wall, and the second involves a firefighter who has suffered PTSD after a confrontation with a resident who wasn’t pleased with the fire service after they had gained entry to his property – which was done at the request of the ambulance service who believed the resident may have committed suicide.
Insurers dealing with cases such as these will need from me – at this early stage – an estimate of what each case is likely to cost, the overarching strategy and analysis of legal liability.
Once these two reports are complete I then scheduled an interview with a man who found a child deceased whilst on a school residential course, the child having unfortunately committed suicide.
After the interview I then start preparations for a conference with some clients. We are preparing for a court-ordered settlement hearing the following day involving a claim from a young tree surgeon. The surgeon had rather unfortunately used his chainsaw on his arm rather than on a tree.
Following this meeting I then check my knowledge of the civil procedure rules before replying to a litigant in person who is incredibly challenging and seems to know the rules better than most lawyers.
Finally, I will be putting together an agenda for a conference with clients tomorrow relating to a two week inquest which begins the week after next.
It’s a busy day, as are most days, but I’m fortunate to love my job.