Bad legal representation
- 26 Sep 2018
If there is one thing that I have learned in my more than 30 years in the law, it is that who you choose to represent you can make a very big difference to the outcome. It just never ceases to amaze me how solicitors who should know better can cause major problems for their clients by mismanaging their cases. Recently I saw one of the worst examples of this very thing that I have seen for many years. It concerned a lady who we will call Carol, although that is not her real name. Carol suffered quite serious injuries in a motor vehicle accident on 1 March 2010.It occurred on the M4 freeway west of Sydney. Carol was driving home from work along the freeway minding her own business when a car up ahead of her spun out of control. Carol did her best to avoid an impact but there was really nothing she could do. After coming to rest she was struck from behind by another vehicle.
Now you would have thought that was a pretty simple, straight forward case, particularly for a firm of solicitors who actively promote themselves as specialists in the field of personal injury compensation. I won’t mention their name but you have probably heard them advertise on radio and TV. Anyway Carol saw them soon after the accident. Unfortunately right from the very beginning they failed to look after Carol’s case properly. For one thing they repeatedly ignored requests from the insurance company for information about Carol’s case. Then out of the blue they brought court proceedings.
Unfortunately their Statement of Claim was defective and was dismissed by the court. This caused two immediate problems for Carol. One, she was ordered to pay the insurance company’s costs and two, Carol was now out of time to file a new Statement of Claim!
Undeterred by this the solicitors immediately filed a new Statement of Claim anyway. But unfortunately before they did so they failed to fix up any of the problems that had resulted in the first case being dismissed. Consequently the second Statement of Claim was also dismissed. Once again Carol was ordered to pay costs and by now they were really beginning to mount up.
Undeterred the solicitors then filed a third Statement of Claim. Once again the insurance companies lodged applications to strike out Carol’s case. At this stage Carol was beginning to question the competency of her solicitors and decided she should seek a second opinion.
She then rang us. Immediately we could see that Carol’s case was in deep trouble. Two Statements of Claim had already been dismissed and a third was liable to be dismissed. She had been ordered to pay the costs of the two insurance companies involved. One had submitted a bill claiming over $56,000 for their costs. The other was claiming in excess of $24,000.
To be honest when I first saw the mess that Carol’s case was in I thought it may be too far gone; even for us.
Despite my misgivings I set about trying to put Carol’s case in order and to overcome all the problems that had been created by her previous solicitors.
Suffice it to say that after we became involved for the very first time the insurance company became interested in trying to settle her case. No offer had ever been made to her when she was represented by her previous solicitors. In the end result we were able to negotiate a settlement of Carol’s case for her.
We are now bringing a claim for her against her previous solicitors in professional negligence to try and recover back all of the additional costs that she had to pay because of their failure to do things properly in the first place.
The moral of this whole sorry saga is to ensure that you have the best possible legal representation at all times. For, as Carol found out, even good cases can be ruined by bad legal representation.