The cases for which he is responsible involve brain and head injuries, amputations, multiple orthopaedic trauma and psychological injuries sustained in road accidents and elsewhere. The claims involve employers’, public, and owner’s liability and cases involving the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, a government-funded organisation created to provide compensation for blameless victims of violent crime.
Jon supervises less experienced lawyers, maintains client contact, progresses cases and introduces new work to the firm.
Jon qualified as a solicitor in 1998. Prior to joining Thompsons he had been responsible for overseeing two large client accounts, supervised a team of solicitors and paralegals and set up and ran his own law firm. He has undertaken both defendant and claimant work. Prior to qualifying, he spent seven years working for a large insurance company, which is now Aviva, in its personal injury department as a liability claims inspector and training officer.
Jon takes pride in Thompsons’ insistence on making sure clients are treated with care and respect. “Other firms I have worked at have been more profit and cost orientated even to the detriment to the client,” he says.
Most of Jon’s time away from work is spent with his two young children.
JON’S CASE EXPERIENCE
A female client sustained serious right leg injuries when her motor bike was struck by an oncoming car that veered into her lane.
Her femur was fractured and pushed down causing damage to her knee. Her tibia was also fractured requiring plates and this was forced down into her ankle fracturing it. Screws were inserted to fix the break.
Unfortunately, her body rejected the metalwork and the screws in her ankle pushed through her skin. The plate in her tibia is moving in a similar way.
Removal was not possible without placing the client in an external fixature for many months which would restrict her movement even further.
Thompsons arranged for the defendant’s insurer to fund a taxi account to allow the client independence.
Jon is now waiting to see the long term effects of the injury and what limitations the client will experience once physiotherapy has been completed.
The accident triggered unresolved issues over the death of the claimant’s daughter some 10 years previously causing her great distress. Thompsons arranged for psychological therapy to assist in the healing process.
In another case a young client attended a local authority-run fitness class for children held at her school and run by an independent company employed by the council. The client was participating in “cheerleading” training and was, with others, trying to form a human pyramid. The client fell or was dropped from a height onto the wooden floor of the gym causing her two front teeth to be damaged, one breaking loose and the other pushed up into the gum.
Three other law firms refused to take the case, on the grounds that compensation would be limited and that liability was doubtful. Jon spoke to the parents and considered neither of these reasons to be valid.
The three potential defendants were blaming each other and claiming all reasonable safety checks and risk assessments had been carried out. Proceedings were threatened with the likelihood there would have to be a split trial which means that liability would have to be decided before the question of compensation was settled. The cheerleading company eventually accepted liability.
The injuries to the young girl were such that cosmetic surgery was required to make the teeth even and she will need major surgery once she has finished growing. A tooth implant will have to be replaced throughout her life.
The client was 12 at the time of the accident and had a lot of psychological body image problems after the accident which were dealt with through psychological therapy. This will need to be repeated during her life. The body image situation was a major aspect of the case as it would last through her formative teenage years and into adulthood.
This case shows that while a case initially looks difficult or not cost effective, by speaking to the client and finding out more about them, Jon ascertained that it was a far higher value claim than other firms thought.
In another of Jon’s cases a sixth form college student was struck by a pool ball in the common room while she sat on a nearby sofa, leading to serious neuropsychological effects.
It was an extremely difficult case in terms of liability and causation. It was accepted that it was an accident and that the impact of the ball was not sufficient to render Jon’s client unconscious, fracture her skull or cut her head.
However, the neuropsychological effects thereafter rendered the client light sensitive and she suffered constant migraines and headaches and it impaired her ability to concentrate. She had to postpone her A levels for a year to give her more time to complete her projects and revise and she decided not to pursue university applications.
The family had spoken to numerous solicitors prior to Jon and had been turned down by everyone. They were advised that cases against schools were very difficult and rarely succeed. The parents were very worried about legal costs and their daughter’s future.
Jon took the case, partly because he considered the school owed the client and her parents a duty of care. Through no fault of her own the girl had sustained a brain injury and Jon pursued the case, despite the initial legal advice.
He discussed the merits of the case with a barrister and he too was sceptical.
Nevertheless Jon investigated the case and demanded a series of documents from the defendants. It transpired that the pool tables were very close to the entrance and exit of the common room and very close to the relaxation area where his client was sitting (so close that students had to duck if a shot was required from that position). It had been designed by the students and was not inspected. Additionally the students were not supervised and the pool table and chairs were not fixed so they could be moved around and were not in a safe position away from the pool tables at the end of the day.
Jon was passionate about achieving justice for the client and her family. He insisted that, despite legal advice to the contrary, liability should rest with the school. The family had very limited financial means and he persuaded the law firm for which he worked, to fund the medical evidence required for the case. He issued proceedings and eventually the school entered negotiations to settle the claim prior to trial.
Jon is a member of the Law Society panel.
From a client who sustained serious spinal injuries in a road accident requiring a metal rod to be attached to her spine to give support. She suffered with severe fatigue and was in constant pain. She was extremely concerned about her future, with meeting people and having a family:
“Thank you for your call today and the heads up, I appreciate it and it’s so nice to know that in the short amount of time you have known me and had my case you know what will impact me in what way and you thought to call before I received the letter as I would’ve been a mess otherwise.”