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Legal Representation is Your Choice!

If you claim for damages through your insurance company’s legal expenses insurance and court proceedings are issued, it is important to remember that you are allowed to choose your own legal representation and do not have to put up with a lawyer foisted upon you by the insurance company.

Thankfully, this was a lesson learnt by the Saxey family from Hampshire who were involved in a horrendous car accident in March 2004 and, after experiencing a serious lack of confidence in the panel solicitors appointed by their insurers, ended up, almost by accident, in the expert hands of Gullands’ partner, Leroy Bradley.

Pete and Sue Saxey and one of their daughters, Rosie, who was 14 at the time, experienced a head-on collision which was no fault of their own, while taking Rosie to her work experience placement.

Pete sustained serious head and internal injuries, as well as multiple fractures in both arms and legs, skull, face and sternum. He was taken to hospital from the scene of the crash by the air ambulance.

Sue sustained severe bruising and Rosie broke her collar bone. A BT Field Engineer, Pete eventually made
a miraculous recovery and is now back at work, but he still remembers nothing of the accident, the 12 days he spent in a coma, or the following month.

He was in intensive care for three weeks and it was a relief to the whole family when he was able to give his name and identify the people around his bed. His long term memory also seemed to be intact.

He underwent major brain and orthopaedic surgery – 20 hours in theatre during the first 48 hours after the accident, and 10 hours’ neuro-surgery a month later. Sue, a GP Practice Nurse by profession, ecalls: “I was told Pete had major internal injuries, possible heart, liver and spleen damage, and it was obvious that no-one expected him to live.”

Even after nine weeks in hospital and wheelchair bound, the Saxey family worries were far from over as Pete
developed chest pains and blood clots in his legs. But after being treated for these and a chest infection, Pete’s remarkable recovery continued.

Amazingly, the Saxeys actually knew the driver of the car that hit them on that Marchmorning in 2004 and, without any reference to them, their legal expenses insurers said that a claim was in progress and that a solicitor would contact Sue.

“When contact was made, it was obviously a clerk and not a qualified person as they told me they had never dealt with a case like this before,” said Sue.

There were other issues with the appointed lawyers which worried the Saxeys and it was thanks to a casual friendship between Sue and Alison Simmons, wife of Gullands’

partner, Tim Simmons, that they began a relationship with Tim’s partner colleague Legal representation is your choice! and personal injury specialist, Leroy Bradley.

Leroy then wrote to the legal expenses insurers telling them that he was taking over the case, but Sue was then told that she had to use the legal firm she had been allotted.

“They said it was the only choice I had,” she said.

But, as Leroy pointed out, if anyone issues proceedings they can appoint their own solicitor, so Gullands continued to act for the Saxeys.

“I have to say that Gullands in general, and Leroy in particular, provided superb service and we are sure the outcome would not have been so advantageous had Leroy not taken over the case,” said Sue.

The result was that Pete Saxey was awarded £90,000, Sue was awarded £9,000 and Rosie £12,000. “Clients are not always aware of what they are entitled to under the terms of a Legal Expenses Insurance policy. For example, not all policies will require panel solicitors to be instructed, or if they do, people may not be aware that they can instruct their own solicitor if proceedings have to be issued.

“Thankfully, the Saxey family crossed our path and we were able to advise them as to their rights and their Legal Expenses Insurers were happy for us to act under the policy when proceedings had to be issued. I was delighted that we were able to conclude all the claims by agreement and that included costs,” said Leroy.

“But the most important thing is that Pete has made a full recovery, something that didn’t seem possible at one stage.”