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5 questions to ask your road traffic accident solicitor

man sat next to car after crash

If you are injured in a road traffic accident, it’s important that you take down the right details and find a personal injury solicitor to take on your case. Here we explore what a victim of a road traffic accident should do, and the important questions to ask to find the right solicitor.

What to do if you have a road accident?

Being involved in a road traffic accident is a sudden and often frightening experience. It can be difficult to gather your thoughts, but taking down as many details as possible is crucial. This information will be invaluable if you make a personal injury claim:

  • The registration number of the vehicles involved
  • The model, colour and year of the vehicles involved
  • The amount of immediate damage
  • The road name and exact location of your accident
  • Date and time of the accident
  • The weather conditions at the time of the accident

Once you have taken these notes you should:

  • Share your details with the other driver
  • Take contact details of any witnesses
  • Take photographs of the accident scene
  • Report the accident to the police
  • Inform your insurance company of the accident

Making a road traffic accident claim

If you have been injured through your road accident, you may consider making a personal injury claim.

Questions to ask your road traffic accident solicitor

To make sure you choose the right specialist for your personal injury claim, here are five initial questions to ask your solicitor:

1. Do you have experience in road traffic accident cases?

It may be that your car insurance company recommends a firm, but it is your prerogative to choose your own solicitor. Look for a solicitor’s practice with experience in road traffic accident cases. Personal injury solicitors will usually have a specialism that they have extensive experience in, so look for somebody who has dealt with road traffic accident cases in the past.

2. What details will you need from me?

A well-practised solicitor will know that a road traffic accident requires a number of intricate details. They should recommend that you collate as many of the details of your accident as possible, as listed under ‘what should I do if I have a road accident?’

At this point it’s also crucial that you mention any specific details. Perhaps you weren’t wearing a seatbelt at the time, or you feel you may have been partly to blame for the accident. It may also be that the car you collided with is not insured. Though you may be worried about the outcome of disclosing this information, it’s crucial that you and your solicitor discuss this early on. You can still make a personal injury claim, though it’s important you are honest and accurate so your solicitor can offer informed initial advice.

 3. Will my case be taken on a ‘no win no fee’ basis – without any extra costs?

If you have chosen a ‘no win no fee’ solicitor, the answer should be “yes”. Your solicitor should assure you that the firm he or she works for offers a genuine no-win no-fee service and that you don’t pay a penny if you lose your case.

Some solicitors might charge fees for medical reports related to your accident. These come from independent medical experts, so the cost may vary. The earlier you clarify any potential charges, the less of a surprise this will be during your case.

 4. How long will my case take and how much compensation could I get?

Without knowing your case, no solicitor should promise a sum or give a solid timescale. Though it can be frustrating, a solicitor should never give vague promises based on a brief summary of your accident. Instead, they may offer case studies from their experience, or highlight the variables that might affect the outcome of your case. After a road traffic accident, the following will be taken into account when accumulating your pay-out:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • Any loss of earnings
  • How your injuries affect your life, including your ability to work or enjoy your hobbies

A solicitor will only be able to give you an idea of your potential compensation settlement once they understand the details of your case.

5. What percentage of my compensation will you charge, if successful?

Your conditional fee arrangement, which is the written arrangement between you and your solicitor, will explain the percentage that will be deducted from a successful claim. This is capped at 25% of your compensation, and should not deter from the amount that is agreed upon. Some solicitor’s fees differ, so it is best to ask about this straight away.

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10/08/2018 No Comments

Rehabilitation – the most challenging but rewarding aspect of injury litigation?

Modern claims mag

Why personal injury practitioners should engage with the revised Rehabilitation Code, and why rehabilitation in clinical negligence litigation should take centre stage, By Amanda Stevens, Group Head of Legal Practice.

If someone you knew suffered an accident, I wonder what advice you would give? Would it be to find the best lawyer and make sure they got the maximum compensation? Whilst important considerations, my advice would be find a lawyer who really understands rehabilitation and how to access it early, as well as being a robust litigator. After all, the biggest preoccupation of my clients down the years has been how to get their life back on track as quickly as possible – money alone can’t do that.

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01/09/2016 No Comments

Matthew Burke: An inspirational story of recovery

Matt Burke - brain injury

Matthew Burke knows first-hand just how fragile life can be – and how crucial the right care and support is on the road to recovery after a serious accident.

Our client Matthew went from being a fit and healthy footballer to the brink of death when falling just five feet off a step-ladder at work.

The scaffolder was knocked unconscious, suffering bleeding on the brain and left unable to walk, scarred for life, and facing a battle for survival.

It was a battle that he incredibly won. Despite a five hour operation and doctors warning that he was much more likely to die than survive, he was out of hospital in just over month.

However, Matthew then discovered his battle had only just begun. He had to learn to walk again, was left out of work and unable to socialise. He was left living largely in isolation, and in his own words, facing ‘some dark days’.

When Matthew turned to our team for help, we recognised that he needed not only our legal expertise and experience, but also our understanding and support to access vital counselling and rehabilitation.

Matthew is now using the six-figure settlement sum that we secured for his injury, to cover the loss of earnings and make up for the prejudice that he now experiences in the job market.

He has bought his own house, has his independence back and is now working as a support care worker himself. Again in his own words, he is ‘really enjoying life’.

His inspirational story made headlines in the Hull Daily Mail, and he is in no doubt that without the counselling support we actively pursued for him, he would not have rebuilt his life so successfully.

I had great counselling support and it was absolutely crucial to my recovery. My solicitor, Jane Woodcock was amazing. She kept me focused and positive at all times, and if ever the counselling team needed a nudge, she was there making sure I had all the support I needed – Jane was someone I felt able to talk to as she seemed to understand my situation and the difficulties I faced. I have managed to find positivity, I am active again, and I have my work and social life back.Matthew, now 30

Matthew’s outlook on life differs far from that shortly after suffering his life-changing injury when falling from step ladders just 5ft high.

He had been manually lifting scaffolding onto some shelving at his workplace – a job he had done every day – but one which broke health and safety laws given the height and weight of objects being lifted without support or machinery.

Standing at 5ft 7in tall himself, his head felt the full force of impact with the concrete floor from a combined height of more than 10ft up.

“From being a fit and healthy young man I went to being at death’s door in a matter of seconds, and that really brought it home to me how fragile life can be.

At the time I played football for teams on both Saturdays and Sundays and it was a great social activity, but after my injury I hardly saw any of them at all as many didn’t have cars and lived on the other side of the city.

I lived with my partner and her young child at the time also, and we had been looking at houses and planning to get married, but my situation put a big strain on the relationship and simply it didn’t survive it, my social life pretty much ended and I found myself sat alone at home.

There were some dark days where I felt down, and I admit that I felt isolated. It was the counselling that helped lift my spirits, kept me positive and gave me some focus to where I was heading. I was calmer and more relaxed, and focussed on the end goal.”

Jane Woodcock, senior legal executive who deals with complex brain injury claims, is delighted to have played a part in helping Matthew to rebuild his life.

Matthew’s story highlights just how important constant support and counselling is for people suffering from brain injuries, and more importantly, just how that support can help people put their lives back together and to start moving forward againJane Woodcock, senior legal executive.

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14/08/2016 No Comments

How much room do you give a horse-rider, and should rules be clearer for drivers to reduce accidents on UK roads?

Horse riding accidents on the road


Good driving is about showing consideration for others at all times when behind the wheel, ensuring the decisions you take reduce the risk of accidents and injury on the roads.

Of course, we all like to think we are skilful and considerate drivers, doing our best to ensure we adhere to the laws of the roads. We know the key rules – and possible consequences – relating to breaking laws on speed, drinking, and using our phones, and drive accordingly.

However, what about the ‘grey areas’ of the rules on the roads, such as how to drive when approaching horse-riders?

It is a situation drivers will increasingly come across, and one in which that key skill of consideration is very much required.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, given the increasing numbers of horse-riders on the roads, there is no firm law or clear guidance for motorists as to exactly how they should adapt their driving when approaching horse-riders to reduce the risk of accidents.

Unclear guidance for drivers to help reduce accidents

The Highway Code advises drivers to slow down and give room, yet does not give any idea of how much room should be left between vehicle and horse, or what speed is considered safe. It is left to the individual’s interpretation.

The British Horse Society recently revealed that there have been more than 2,000 reports of accidents involving horses on UK roads since 2010, with almost one in ten resulting in a fatality.

And according to a survey they conducted, three in four accidents happened because the vehicle passed the animal without allowing enough space.

It is an increasing problem, as in 2012 a total of 165 accidents were recorded, but this figure had risen by nearly 50 per cent to 316 in 2015. Over the past five years there have been 36 rider deaths in the UK, and 181 horse deaths.

A spokesperson for the charity said a major problem was that many drivers are unsure how to behave when near a horse, and it now calling for legislation to be introduced to set a statutory 15mph law when passing horses.

Earlier this year, horse carriage master Mark Evans was injured and his horse Wil was killed after being hit by a car as he pulled a funeral cortege in Wales. The tragic case received national media attention and prompted petitions calling for greater protection from the Government for horse riders.

Road accident victims often require long-term support

At Hudgell Solicitors, we see the devastation often caused by careless driving and misjudgements of drivers behind the wheel. People can be left needing life-long support and treatment, and in some cases, errors in judgement can prove fatal.

Our personal injury compensation specialists have also supported many people who have fallen from horses, falls which often leave the individual with serious injuries which can have a long-term impact on their day-to-day life, or result in long periods off work.

Given the statistics, we agree that the introduction of clear guidance and legislation for drivers relating to horse-riders should help reduce the number of casualties.

Horses are prone to being nervy and bolting, and a revving engine, loud music, or beeping of a car horn could result in serious injury to a rider, horse, motorist or a passer-by.

Perhaps it is time for Government took greater notice of the worrying increase in accidents and injuries on the roads relating to horse riders, and took steps to ensure new laws are both incorporated into the Highway Code, and adopted by motorists from the moment they pass their tests.

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22/04/2016 No Comments

Would automatic bans for drivers using mobiles finally prevent people from putting lives at risk on the roads?

Man In Car Talking On Mobile Phone Whilst Driving

It may well be the driving offence now most commonly committed on the UK’s roads – using a mobile whilst behind the wheel.

Whether it be spending just a few seconds to answer a call, glancing at an incoming text, or, more blatantly, using a smartphone for social media or even to take pictures and videos, most people would find it hard to deny using their phone when driving at one time.

Over the past 10 years, more than 200 people have been killed in Britain in accidents involving drivers using hand-held mobile phones at the wheel.

The number of accidents in which phones have been involved is increasing, with almost 500 accidents caused by drivers who were using a hand-held phone in 2014, the highest number on record. Of those accidents, 21 proved fatal.

Research by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has shown that drivers using any type of mobile phone – hands-free or not – are four times more likely to crash, injuring or killing themselves and other people.

However, it is a message which is largely ignored, as research recently conducted by our road accident claims team at Hudgell Solicitors has highlighted.

Asked which single new law would make the biggest difference to road safety in the UK, 45 per cent of respondents said an instant ban for being caught using a phone.

Interestingly, just 15 per cent thought a total ban on drinking alcohol before driving would result in less accidents on the roads.

In my view, these figures give an indication of acceptance that the law regarding mobile phone use is routinely broken and is not strong enough. It suggests tougher punishments are needed to make drivers think, and not pick up their phone.

Without stronger punishments, many – and perhaps even those who consider themselves safe and considerate drivers – will take the risk.

Ministers last year announced plans which will see most first time offenders offered an educational course to learn about the risks of their behaviour after they are stopped by police.

Those who are ‘persistent offenders’ will face an increase from the current three penalty points to four, while fines will rise from £100 to £150.

The flaw here is that ‘first time offenders’, on the vast majority of occasions, will not be that. They’ll more likely be regular offenders who have been caught for the first time.

Also, why should there be such a thing as ‘persistent offenders’? Do we get persistent offenders of drink-driving being allowed to hold onto their licence? Certainly not.

I have previously written about my belief that such punishments are not strong enough, as I believe people currently do not associate the risk of being caught and punished for using a mobile anywhere near that of being caught drink-driving.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where many don’t stop and think of the possible victims of their reckless actions, instead focussing on the punishment they’ll face for breaking the law rather than the damage they can do to the lives of others.

As well as potential technological innovations and continued publicity of the dangers of driving whilst using a mobile phone, more serious punishments for mobile phone use are needed. Only then can we make a difference and improve safety on the roads.

At present, the punishment certainly doesn’t fit the crime. In order to combat the culture of driving whilst using a mobile phone, that simply has to change. Before more lives are lost.

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08/04/2016 No Comments

Q&A on Cerebral Palsy cases with Rosamund Rhodes – Kemp

Rosamund Rhodes Kemp

The heart-warming story of US-born Matthew Walzer is a fantastic example of how those live with Cerebral Palsy can live an independent life.

Matthew wrote an open letter to the CEO of Nike, Mark Parker, explaining that a lack of flexibility in his hand muscles led to difficulty in tying his shoe laces. Common symptoms of CP in babies and children include difficulty swallowing, lack of co-ordination, slow speech, a curved spine, and a lack of muscle control.

Matthew suggested that Nike create a brand new trainer that can benefit those with CP and similar disabilities. Amazingly, over a three-year period, Nike created a series of shoes with a revolutionary strap system. Matthew chose not only to accept the challenges of his condition, but to face them too, and find a way to make life easier for himself and others with similar disabilities.

In the UK, an estimated 30,000 children live with CP, and approximately 1 ,800 are diagnosed every year. Of those diagnosed, 20% are due to negligence, whilst the remaining 80% are due to congenital factors or difficulties during pregnancy.

Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp, Head of Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury at Hudgell Solicitors in London, specialises in CP cases including children. She has represented families in many high-profile CP cases and spoke of her experiences in the field:

Q. What made you interested in pursuing complex claimant cases, in particular cerebral palsy?

Rosamund: I nursed children in my previous career and had applied for, and been accepted on, a midwifery course at the John Radcliffe Hospital, when I opted for law instead. I have also been a special needs governor at a primary school for 15 years.As a nurse, you are used to dealing with a multidisciplinary team, and that is exactly what you do with cerebral palsy or other maximum severity cases. If you have a great legal and health professional team, it is often possible to secure an admission of responsibility and then apply for an interim payment, so that the injured person receives compensation before the final settlement and can start to rebuild their lives. Frankly, there is little that is as satisfying in the work that we do.

Q. Do you feel that your experience as a former nurse has given you an insight into these types of medical cases?

Rosamunnd: Undoubtedly. Not least is the knowledge and understanding of medical records and, in cerebral palsy cases particularly, the midwifery and nursing records. It is obviously vital to understand what has been the cause, but equally important to understand what has been missed out and the significance of both. But also understanding complex medical terminology, anatomy, and physiology, and the interaction of drugs. Most importantly though, is how mistakes can happen in any given situation. Picturing yourself in the scene at the time and then working backwards to see what could have been done differently, or what would have avoided the mistake.

These cases are also incredibly stressful and you carry a huge emotional burden for the family throughout the lifetime of the case, and nursing prepares you for that, because you carry the burden of the patient’s anxieties, illness, and recovery when you are looking after them, because they are at their lowest ebb.

Q. What was the most remarkable case related to CP that you have worked on and why?

Rosamund: I am still actually working on my most memorable case! it is memorable for lots of reasons. Firstly, because when it first came into the department I was working in at the time, a colleague of mine put it in the discarded cases pile. I got it out and had a look and thought there was something in it. A few months later, having obtained the records and an expert report, we received full admissions of responsibility from the Trust. It is also memorable because of the complex family dynamics – these have made it particularly challenging and tested every possible area of knowledge, expertise, and diplomacy.

Q. What needs to change regarding prevention and support?

Rosamund: The most common reason for negligently caused cerebral palsy is the misinterpretation of CTG traces, and so priority should be given to regular and high quality teaching on the interpretation of CTGs. Also poor staffing levels and lack of consultant cover.

Moves have been taken to ensure there is 24-hour consultant cover in obstetric units and proper staffing levels, but there is a shortage of midwives and a shortage of funds, and it is going to be difficult to change because training, consultant cover, and staff shortages are all going to necessitate additional funds being made available at a time when NHS resources are stretched to the limit.

However, what I would say is that prevention is far better than trying to deal with the problem when it occurs. The cost of looking after a child with profound cerebral palsy is enormous to society, to the family, and to the NHS. So it is surely better to invest more funds in preventing these tragedies occurring in the first place.

With greater technology and advances in medicine, it is getting easier to detect problems during pregnancy, so that steps can be taken to minimise the risks of labour. But you will still need competent staff and enough of them or risks will still materialise. It also makes economic sense to invest heavily in these children when they are tiny, because they do far better if they are surrounded by a multidisciplinary team, providing support and therapy for all of their needs. So, for example, a team for a profoundly affected child would include:

  • Speech and Language therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Community Nurse
  • Social Services regarding adaptations to housing
  • Paediatrician

The top of the wish list would have to be that every child with cerebral palsy would get some compensation, rather than the lottery, which means that some children, who have been affected by negligence, will get a substantial award, whereas other children get nothing.


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11/12/2015 No Comments

Launch of Brake’s National Road Safety Week is time for us all to consider how we could become safer drivers

RTA-page-imgv4By Matt Tuff, a specialist in serious road accident cases at personal injury specialists, Hudgell Solicitors

Today marks the start of National Road Safety Week, an annual event with a simple but very important goal – to make our roads safer to reduce the number of serious accidents and injuries we see each year.

Founded in 1997 by campaigning road safety charity Brake, the annual event seeks to raise awareness about road safety and promote simple steps that everyone can take to stop the many needless deaths and injuries year-round.

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23/11/2015 No Comments

Hudgell Solicitors backs Brake campaign for ban on hands-free calls when driving

Lady driving while on her mobile phone

Hudgell Solicitors is supporting the campaign by national road safety charity Brake to introduce new laws banning the use of hands-free phone systems in vehicles, as statistics have shown talking at the wheel makes drivers four times more likely to cause injury.

Despite using a hand-held phone while driving being made illegal in 2003, thousands of drivers still blatantly flout the law, putting themselves and others at great risk.

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28/09/2015 No Comments

Sport will never be more important than ‘life and death’, and attitudes around player welfare are thankfully changing

Eva Careiro

‘Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that’

It is without doubt one the most famous sporting quotes ever, by legendary former Liverpool Football Club manager Bill Shankly.

Although made in jest, there has perhaps been an element of truth to it in terms of how sporting clubs and organisations have adopted a ‘win at all costs’ mentality in years gone by – certainly when you look at the very top level of professional sports.

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23/09/2015 No Comments

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