Catastrophic Injuries Claims
BTO has “a strong presence wherever big-ticket catastrophic claims are to be found.” It deals with multi-million pound personal injury claims, largely instructed by insurers and their insureds and is “known for the strong personal relationship (it) builds up with its clients.” BTO is placed in band 1 by The Legal 500 for Personal Injury – Defender work.
The ten strong team is led by Partners and Solicitor Advocates Catherine Currie and Carly Forrest along with Partner Garry Ferguson, all of whom are specialists in this niche area of work. They are instructed in a wide variety of claims involving injuries as diverse as complete and incomplete tetraplegia, spinal injury lesions, brain injury, psychiatric and psychological damage, cases where the injured party is in a complete vegetative state and amputation claims. The team is also regularly instructed to handle fatal claims. In the past 12 months alone, the team has handled cases with a combined reserve of almost £80 million and it is unique in that it deals exclusively in this area of work. Both Catherine and Carly are recognised by the Legal 500 as “experts” in this field.
BTO is appointed by a range of UK and international insurers to deal with their Scottish claims on an exclusive basis. Douglas Jessiman, whose particular expertise is in catastrophic medical negligence cases, works closely with the team, bringing his extensive knowledge of clinical negligence matters.
The Catastrophic Injuries team deals on a regular basis with catastrophic claims involving children.
What we do:
- Investigate the incident
- Consider and advise on rehabilitation
- Liaise with HSE & other investigating bodies
- Identify and advise on potential PR issues
- Advise on potential liability
- Identify and instrust appropriate experts
- Recover medical records
- Review immediate needs assessments & progress reports
- Advise on & review reserve
- Negotiate settlement where appropriate
Contact: Catherine Currie, Partner firstname.lastname@example.org / Carly Forrest, Partner email@example.com / Garry Ferguson, Partner firstname.lastname@example.org / T. 0141 221 8012
- Reduced settlement in litigated claim by doctor involved in cycling accident
Settling a Court of Session action relating to the death of a doctor in a cycling accident at a substantially reduced level. Settlement was agreed for a 5 figure sum with the insurer’s contribution being one half of that. If the family members had succeeded the claim could have been worth in the region of £1 million. There were many complex and novel issues in this claim which required detailed investigation and input from experts from a number of different fields. Overall enough had been disclosed to the pursuers to cast sufficient doubt over the likely success of their claim that they accepted an out of court global offer of less than 10% of the likely full liability value.
- Pre-litigation settlement of claim by teenage girl crushed by JCB
Negotiating an extra-judicial settlement in a claim by a teenage girl who was crushed by the boom of a JCB truck driven by her father. She suffered a spinal injury resulting in complete paraplegia such that she would never walk again. A settlement was achieved for not much over £1 million which allowed for a deduction for an element of contributory negligence on the part of the child. The claim had the potential to be worth in excess of £3 million. bto were instructed by the insurers very soon post accident and a tactical decision was made to invite a claim at that early stage. Early instruction of experts and continual contact with the pursuer’s agents ultimately resulted in a pre-litigation settlement meeting with agents and clients and conclusion of the matter utilising the action plan disseminated at the outset.
- Successful appeal
Successful appeal of a finding that the insured was one fifth to blame for a road traffic accident which left one pursuer in a wheelchair and another seriously injured. Collectively the values of the two injury claims were just under £2 million inclusive of their solicitors’ costs. Following an appeal based on complex issues of causation, the Inner House unanimously found in the insured’s favour that they played no part in the cause of the accident. bto secured an award of expenses in the insured’s favour which assisted to relieve the cost burden to the insurers of proceeding with an Appeal to the Inner House.
- Substantial saving for the insurers following blunt force trauma
bto were instructed to defend a claim arising from a blunt force trauma to the head/face which resulted in a severe brain injury caused by a secondary stroke. There were life-long issues of care and an inability for the individual to work again. Settlement was ultimately negotiated for a little over £2.5 million with a valuation being presented by the pursuer’s legal team for a figure in the region of £4.5 million. Complex investigations were required in relation to the causation of injury due to the secondary cause of the brain damage and also in relation to the extensive nature of the man’s future care needs. A substantial saving for the insurers from timely and proactive investigation and instruction of experts in this complex catastrophic case.
- Representing the parents of a child who suffered very severe spinal injuries at birth
bto was instructed to represent the parents of a child who suffered very severe spinal injuries at birth resulting in complete paralysis from the neck down with a need for mechanical ventilation. This landmark case was advanced against the local Health Board with a settlement being agreed in 2011 after one day’s evidence of a 34 day Proof in the Court of Session. The claim had the potential to be worth in excess of £20 million. Following investigation and obtaining expert financial and actuarial advice on the ramifications of settling a young child’s claim of this ilk by traditional lump sum method, an agreement was reached with the Health Board for periodical payments to be made for the child’s life-time index-linked to the appropriate index of ASHE in respect of the future care costs. In addition, a substantial lump sum was paid by the Health Board for the remaining heads of claim. The preparation of the case for Proof involved complex considerations in the proper analysis of a number of heads of claim including a dispute on the applicable multiplier given varying life expectancy analyses. A pioneering case setting down precedent in Scotland for the methodology and contractual requirements to be considered for settlement by way of periodic payment in cases north of the Border.
- Significantly reduced settlement in major tetraplegia claim
bto were instructed by the insurers of a local authority to defend a claim by an individual who fell whilst negotiating a short flight of steps in a public area. She sustained catastrophic injuries in the form of a spinal cord injury resulting in incomplete tetraplegia. A Court of Session action was raised for £2.5 million and after two days of evidence at the Proof, a substantially reduced economic offer which had been on table since the outset was accepted which was a fraction of the potential value of the claim. The potential for the claim was in excess of £3 million had the pursuer been successful in establishing liability before the court based on her position that the steps were in a dangerous condition.
Throughout the matter, bto maintained a robust stance on liability, with the defence predicated (1) on witness evidence that the pursuer had been intoxicated at the time of the accident, (2) on information gleaned from medical records that she had a history of falling, (3) on the fact that her accident had not been witnessed and (4) on the fact that she had been entirely inconsistent about the narrative of her fall ultimately accepting before the court that she could not say exactly what had been the cause of her accident.
Tactically, bto’s consistent and rational approach to this case was entirely merited and resulted in a substantial saving for the insurers.”
- Settlement of complex claims arising from RTA involving a family of foreign holiday-makers
Settling for a major insurer a Court of Session action stemming from an RTA when a foreign family were holidaying in Scotland. The accident resulted in the death of 4 out of the 5 family members in the vehicle, a young girl being the sole survivor. A negotiated settlement was agreed globally for not much over £1 million with the claim having the potential to be worth between £3 and £4 million based on the pursuers’ evidence. The surviving child claimed in respect of orthopaedic injuries, a severe brain injury and for the loss of support and society of her mother and there were also claims by surviving family members who lived abroad. The child’s physical and cognitive injuries were significant with claims being advanced for a privately funded professional care and case management package in her homeland and also a substantial future wage loss claim. Investigation of these aspects was complex requiring instruction of foreign experts. Careful consideration was required at the time of settlement to ensure that the jurisdictional issues had been addressed
- Pre-litigation settlement of claims arising from a fatal road traffic accident
Settling pre-litigation the claims arising from a fatal road traffic accident which occurred on the notorious A9. The deceased was a 34 year old lorry driver who was killed in the course of his employment in a head on collision. Claims were advanced by the deceased’s partner, children, parents and siblings for grief and loss of society and also by the partner and children for loss of support and services. Globally settlement was achieved for a figure in excess of half a million pounds. Prompt instruction by the insurers within weeks of the accident resulted in settlement of all of the claims within 15 months of the accident, prior to any court proceedings being raised and prior to any fatal accident inquiry taking place. There was a resultant substantial costs saving for the insurers