Gerard Stilliard, head of personal injury strategy, comments:

As we all continue adapting to life during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it remains pivotal that access to justice for the injured and mistreated is prioritised.

It became apparent to Thompsons very early on that the disruption caused by the current pandemic could lend itself to potential sharp practice. As such, when the virus hit, the need to collaborate with the insurance industry to help prevent that from happening became a necessity.

Taking action

This is why Thompsons was at the forefront of the development and launch of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Personal Injury Protocol, in partnership with the Association of British Insurers (ABI). This ‘unprecedented’ cross-industry collaboration, with 279 different law firms and 38 insurers signed up, will endeavor to protect access to justice for injured claimants and mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

During a Commons Select Committee hearing, Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland, also noted how the Protocol “[encapsulates] what needs to be done, particularly in the field of personal injury, when it comes to being sensible about the impact of what is going on around us on proceedings”.

Adapting to change

Our teams across the UK have adapted quickly and successfully to ensure that those who are injured or mistreated at work, on the roads, or elsewhere, can still receive the specialist legal help they need – even during these unprecedented times.

We have been working with the courts and defendants on remote hearings and meetings, either via telephone or video conferencing. During the lockdown period, we have secured more than £18 million pounds in settlements, including through remote Joint Settlement Meetings (JSMs).

One example of a successful virtual JSM saw serious injury solicitor, Monique Medd, help a former lorry driver secure £350,000. The man was involved in a road accident that left him trapped inside a lorry cabin for over two hours, while petrol leaked nearby, causing him to suffer severe post-traumatic stress disorder and orthopedic injuries. This incident will no doubt have a life-changing impact on the claimant, but the compensation secured with the help of Monique will ensure he is financially secure as he attempts to return to full-time work.

Alexandra Scott, one of our London-based medical negligence lawyers, secured £500,000 for a client in another virtual JSM. After being subjected to a series of unnecessary and invasive procedures, this client was left with fibromyalgia, incontinence and severe fatigue.

The hard work of Alexandra ensured that the client’s significant loss of earnings were recovered, as well as money to pay for future medical care and adaptations.

We also supported members of Unite the union in a successful challenge to the insolvency of restaurant chain Carluccio’s, ensuring that employees are able to access the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Working alongside Unite in a fast-moving, pandemic-induced financial situation for workers, we secured access to the Scheme for workers who would have otherwise been left with no income.   

Advice from expert voices at Thompsons

Throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and beyond, we understand the importance of providing expert, accessible advice and support. Our employment rights team has been working hard to break down the government’s briefings for union legal officers, union members and the wider public, as well as using work-arounds, like the Personal Injury Protocol agreed with the ABI, to ensure clients are fairly compensated.

You can keep up to date with the latest employment rights news during the pandemic with our Labour and European Law Review bulletin.