A collaborative approach leads to better outcomes in personal injury cases – Jodi Gordon

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Court proceedings are generally considered to be adversarial. Often the initial focus is on establishing blame, then on the value of a settlement and how quickly it might be achieved. However, there is another element to a legal claim that is just as important as monetary settlement.

At the start of a claim, insurers and attorneys are required to consider the rehabilitation needs of an injured person, as set out in the 2015 Rehabilitation Code. The code is voluntary.

Signatories may agree to give priority to the medical, social, occupational and psychological recovery of the injured person. It also provides rapid access to rehabilitation and funding for it to maximize recovery.

Jodi Gordon is Partner, Road Traffic Accident Law (Scotland) LLP

It is generally accepted that early intervention rehabilitation improves an injured person’s outcome and can have a significant impact on the level of recovery. It can make the difference between a person being able to work again or being able to walk again. It saves jobs, marriages and improves the quality of life. Thus, at the outset of a claim, a proactive personal injury lawyer should consider what form of rehabilitation might maximize his client’s recovery.

The type of rehabilitation and treatment required in each case depends on the needs and circumstances of the injured person. An immediate specialist needs assessment can be arranged to assess injuries, current treatment and other rehabilitation recommendations. If these are agreed and funding provided by the insurer, a case manager can be appointed to coordinate treatment, allowing the injured to focus on their recovery.

Our lawyers specialize in representing people injured in road traffic accidents, and it is our policy to encourage insurers to contact us at an early stage. Many customers involved in bicycle or motorcycle incidents suffer catastrophic and complex injuries.

We always seek to approach a case under the Rehabilitation Code and arrange for an immediate needs assessment and early rehabilitation intervention. We are signatories and strong supporters of the Rehabilitation Code; for us, it’s not just about the compensation we can recover for clients, but more about the best outcome for them in terms of collection and settlement.

When the rehab code was first introduced, many Pursuer attorneys viewed it with concern. Decades later, the Code continues to provide a valuable framework supported by leading associations of insurers and personal injury lawyers in the UK. He continues to promote a spirit of cooperation and rehabilitation between insurers and personal injury lawyers, as both parties have a duty to consider the rehabilitation needs of an injured claimant. This obligation applies even when liability is still under investigation.

However, much remains to be done to develop a collaborative rather than adversarial approach between Provider lawyers and Insurers. For example, in England, while the framework of the law is ultimately the same, solicitors and insurers are known to take a more collaborative approach in handling a case beyond the pardon agreement.

Often, lawyers and insurers agree to jointly commission medical experts to provide evidence of injuries. For injured people, this removes the need to be examined by two different medical experts for the same injuries. Imagine how painful it must be to have to repeat several times to experts of the same specialty the circumstances of your accident and the impact of your injuries on your daily life.

Imagine the trauma, if the injuries were psychological and you had to undergo countless tests on the level of your psychological distress. A collaborative approach would ensure that duplicate reviews could be minimized as well as the stress and anxiety caused by our adversarial approach. Additionally, in England, if experts from both sides are commissioned, they are required to consult with each other and then produce a statement for the Court indicating where they agree and disagree.

We look forward to discussing many of these points with other experts from the fields of medicine, health, law and finance at our Complex Injury Conference in Edinburgh on September 8. Our aim is to agree on a collaborative and customer-centric approach in Scotland, which will lead to better results and more efficient work for everyone involved.

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