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Supermarket admits liability but I'm still no further forward

(21 Posts)
Earsareburning Wed 22-Jun-16 21:08:29

I know that MN are not generally huge fans of compensation claim threads but I thought I'd ask!

Nine months ago I skidded and fell on a large spill in a supermarket. I did not see the liquid on the floor, and there were no warning signs to make customers aware of this. A member of staff came to my aid and stated that they she had been aware of the spill and had 'reported it. Five minutes later, another member of staff approached me (I was still on the floor) and informed me that they too had 'seen the spill'. I recognised this member of staff as I had passed her five minutes earlier while she was looking at a shelf and speaking on a mobile phone - what stood out to me was that she had one of those large pointer sticks tucked under her arm to direct customers to available tills.

I filled out an accident form at the request of the store manager and was given my shopping for 'free' despite my stating this wasn't necessary (Only had four items - looking back I wish I'd had a packed trolley!)

I was pretty bruised and battered and in a lot of pain for the next few weeks but presumed this would resolve itself. After eight weeks I was still experiencing severe pain in my arm, back, and knees, and went to the GP (I NEVER go to the G.P - my record is eight years - my GP calls me Mrs Stoic'). I was prescribed very strong painkillers and Temazepam for muscle spasms. On a subsequent visit to adjust the meds the GP suggested I look into seeking some form of compensation as I was unable to work to full capacity - I am self-employed and my job involves dealing with large animals, and lifting very heavy loads in conjunction with this.

I sent a query to one of the usual no-win firms. They did some work for me and while the supermarket did initially refuse liability they later accepted responsibility for the accident.

Throughout all of this I have been on a waiting list for an MRI scan - the legal firm did send me for a medical assessment recently, but the consultant who performed it was quite perfunctory and in his report stated that he could not really make a firm diagnosis without the results of an MRI! I later received a letter from the legal firm to ask if I would be willing to see a Psychologist next! (from reading threads on here about similar incidents I see that this is quite a common next step). It appears to be just another time wasting exercise.

I have endured a lot of pain and disruption to my daily life due to this incident and have reached the end of my financial and physical limits to let it drag on any longer. I have been living off savings and my business came to a standstill. Has anyone else had any experience of a similar accident that could advise how best to proceed from this point on? (I have considered resorting to Twitter to complain but don't have any followers!)

hippp Wed 22-Jun-16 21:15:28

No advice OP but watching this thread with interest smile

traviata Wed 22-Jun-16 21:21:46

who do you want to complain to?

what are you waiting for?

Can you work? if so, carry on. You can still pursue your compensation claim for your losses.

marisolgonzales Wed 22-Jun-16 21:32:43

You should have gone back to your GP when your symptoms didn't resolve for him to refer you for further investigation/ treatment on the NHS. If you had you would probably have seen a consultant and possibly had a MRI by now.

Your solicitors should have advised you of your duty to mitigate which includes things like seeking treatment if (as in your case) liability was disputed so the supermarket wouldn't have been prepared to fund treatment.

That said now liability is resolved, your solicitors should be seeking funding for the MRI as the expert needs this to complete his prognosis. Ask them if they have requested this and what they say will happen next.

Re psychologist, it is likely this is based on something in the previous experts report, if he felt you were showing signs of some psychological trauma, or you reported something of that nature to him, he can't comment on it as it is beyond his field of expertise, hence will recommend an expert in that field is instructed.

marisolgonzales Wed 22-Jun-16 21:36:03

Just to add, proving a loss if you're running your own business is very difficult. Have you discussed this with your solicitors? If not you need to asap.

Earsareburning Wed 22-Jun-16 21:38:28

Hi traviata (and hipp)

I have been in contact from time to time with the legal firm - they haven't been terribly helpful (asking me if I knew when I was likely to have my MRI - sorry mate I don't run the NHS!)

My business is predicated on supplying livestock, and taking on young animals to produce to maintain turnover. I have been unable to follow my business plan of expanding as I am unable to carry out the necessary care of them (have had to sell them as I am physically unable to carry out these tasks).

I hope to get an appointment at the GP tomorrow and push for the MRI.

As I mentioned in my OP I am guilty of being very self-sufficient and just try to get on with things (to my own detriment obviously).

OliviaBenson Wed 22-Jun-16 21:39:01

Until you have had your scan, they won't know what the damage is and what the long term prognosis is. Without that they can't settle.

Can you ask if the insurance would find one privately?

Earsareburning Wed 22-Jun-16 21:47:23

marisolgonzales I have seen a consultant - he also wanted to wait for the results of the (now seemingly fantasy) MRI scan!

I also suggested to the legal firm that the supermarket pay for a private scan to resolve this as soon as possible. No response to date. A friend in the NHS suggested that the supermarket would not pay for this as they are probably aware that it would show the serious injury that I believe I have.

I agree that proving my business losses would be difficult as much of it is speculative with no guarantees of success, however I am more focused on seeking a medical diagnosis and treatment (surgery is a very possible outcome) to alleviate the pain.

Thank you for the replies.

TheCraicDealer Wed 22-Jun-16 21:50:23

If the supermarket or their insurers have admitted liability then I would have expected your sols to have asked them to fund an MRI after the reciept of your medical report, not wait for the NHS to see you. They're about £700 plus VAT I think, but it's rare ime for experts to ask for one for generic soft tissue injuries at what seems to have been quite an early stage in your recovery (my understanding of your OP- sorry if I misinterpreted). Please do not consider getting the psych report done unless you genuinely feel something's amiss after the incident- otherwise it just takes more time and racks up costs which benefits no-one except the medical expert and the solicitors. Your solicitors sound like a bit of a shower to be honest.

Earsareburning Wed 22-Jun-16 21:51:28

OliviaBenson I will call the legal firm and suggest that they pay for the scan. As the supermarket has admitted liability I would presume that, whatever the outcome, they would have no problem recouping this cost from them?

marisolgonzales Wed 22-Jun-16 22:00:04

I'd expect your solicitors to have told you to seek NHS treatment because initially they didn't know how long liability might take to resolve, but that once the supermarket had admitted they should have immediately been seeking funding for a private MRI.

If the supermarket refuse to fund the MRI (unlikely, it's in their interest too) then your solicitors should issue proceedings and make immediate application for an interim payment to cover that cost.

Earsareburning Wed 22-Jun-16 22:01:48

TheCraicDealer Thanks for your reply.

It was my GP who referred me for the MRI as after x-rays and med changes I still had significant and debilitating pain. I agree about the psych report. Time wasting tactics and clearly just another hoop in the journey through the process. The only change to my mental health is exhaustion from poor sleep associated with the main injury and the effects that any long-term pain would have. I will let the guy I'm dealing with know that you think he's a bit of a useless git too when I phone him tomorrow grin

Earsareburning Wed 22-Jun-16 22:09:48

As I'm typing, I can feel ripples under the skin at the site of the main injury (like bubbles bursting - presume it's muscles/tendons?) and the snaps and crack when I move the limb make me feel sick. The pain is worse at night, so if my typing goes a bit awry it'll be the 10mg of Temazepam!

TheCraicDealer Wed 22-Jun-16 22:48:24

This is my line of work and you'll get no judgement from me. What seems to be a simple fall or whatever can really mess you up for a good while, but at first glance you could be seen to be malingering which is why medical evidence is so important. My knowledge of the English system is limited- here fees are based on awards so less impetus for sols to waste time appointing experts who aren't ultimately needed. Liability insurance is there for a purpose, for when your systems fail or aren't good enough to prevent someone getting hurt. You shouldn't lose out because of someone else's mistake. I reserve my pissy pants for people or solicitors who are just clearly taking the hand, which is what they're doing with the psych report.

Earsareburning Wed 22-Jun-16 23:31:25

TheCraicDealer everyone has been very kind on the thread and I'm grateful to all who responded. May I message you with a tiny detail that's not wholly connected to the matter but is just something for your own information? It's not to ask you to provide any more advice than you've already generously given or ask any further questions I promise.

Just to clarify another point as I confuse myself sometimes (that'll be the Temazepam!) I have seen TWO different Ortho. Consultants. One NHS after referral from the GP, and one (also NHS but doing private work) for the medical report assessment. Neither were willing to commit themselves, understandably, to a diagnosis without a MRI scan result.

As these things go, in my limited experience, I thought it was a fairly straightforward case - particularly as there is video evidence (I haven't seen this, and the lawyer I am dealing with advised me that the clip he was provided with by the supermarket was of a very short time frame).

For two members of staff to see the spill and walk away from it, supposedly to report it, is pretty poor. It didn't need to happen.

I'll get on to the legal firm and my GP tomorrow first thing.

Earsareburning Sat 25-Jun-16 09:22:59

I know everyone's busy with the Referendum result on MN but thought I'd post an update.

Telephoned Solicitor to ask if he there had been any progress. He had told me four weeks ago he was going to contact my GP to ask for a possible time scale for an NHS MRI after quizzing ME about how long I thought it would take! (I said during that discussion that the GP has no control over external appointments after they make a referral but he didn't seem to get that). Solicitor complained that my GP still hadn't got back to him! I asked, again, that he pursue the supermarket paying for a private scan - he waffled on about this being a possibility but that he would get on to the GP again to try and find out of when I might receive an NHS appointment. Aaarghhh!

I had made a GP appointment (could only get a Locum) and informed him of this. More waffling from Solicitor about I should ask this GP about a time scale for scan! Again, I pointed out the obvious. I reminded him that the supermarket ADMITTED liability months ago, he then mentioned something about sending the supermarket my medical report at this stage? He also spoke over me more than once during the call.

My financial circumstances have gone from being able to pay my bills and ticking over, to staring disaster in the face since the accident. (I had to cancel the above GP appointment as I have no fuel in the car to get there (15 mile round trip) - I did have some emergency money left but this has had to go towards a final demand for vets fees. I do not receive any benefits (except for Child Benefit), but have had to apply for these - how I'll get to the 'local' office 40 (one way) miles away for an appointment with no fuel for the car I have no idea.

I have been listing items for sale on a local sales page for weeks to try and raise some cash without much success, and emptying the cupboards/freezer to manage to keep eating but once that's gone, my children and I are really in trouble.

Any suggestions as to how I proceed from here? Should I contact the supermarket directly? Complain on Twitter? Help!

marisolgonzales Sat 25-Jun-16 13:44:20

If you contact the supermarket directly they will refuse to discuss it with you as you have a solicitor acting for you. They can't speak to you whilst a solicitor is on record.

I wouldn't advise getting rid of your solicitor full stop. You may need to go to another firm but first I'd try and resolve it with the current firm because it may be quicker and easier in the long run. I think you said it's a firm that regularly handles injury claims? That being the case I suspect the issue I you're stuck with an inexperienced paralegal rather than a qualified lawyer who knows what they're doing. So you to contact them asap. I'd suggest emailing over the weekend and follow up with a call on Monday. Tell them you want your claim progressed asap and the MRI that has been recommended. They should already have disclosed the medical report to the supermarket and sought funding for the MRI as this is unlikely to be done in the short term on NHS, and liability is admitted so these costs are recoverable. Also if your solicitors know you are not working and struggling financially they should have sought an interim payment once liability was admitted. This gets deducted from the final value of your claim but should help tide you over in the meantime. Your solicitors also should have spoken to you about claiming benefits.

I'd tel them you expect they contact supermarket, secure interim payment of £2k and agreement to fund MRI within 7 days, and that you want the money by BACS. But that if it's not all agreed in 7 days, you'll take your case to another firm.

Good luck, hope you get it resolved.

Earsareburning Sat 25-Jun-16 20:23:37

Thank you marisolgonzales I will do exactly as you have suggested. I really appreciate you taking the time to write such a detailed post.

On a brighter note, I sold some items on Ebay earlier tonight and have a whole £30 to spend smile

Tequilamockinbird Sat 25-Jun-16 22:05:41

I suspect the reason they want you to see a psychologist is because there's some sort of kickback in place and the solicitor will make more money out of the claim. Not because they actually think you need to see a psychologist.

I might be wrong and cynical of course.

I hope you get sorted soon op cake

TheWeeBabySeamus1 Sat 25-Jun-16 22:16:25

Hi OP, with this claim there are 2 parts. Injury (General Damages), which as you are waiting for the MRI scan can't be settled yet ( please ask your solicitor not to send the report yet as you need to wait for the results of the MRI and then get the medical expert your solicitors used to write an addendum report to accompany it ). The other is for your loss of earnings (special damages) to date.

If proof of loss of earnings has been sent to your solicitor then ask them to request an interim payment for Special Damages off the shops insurance company.

And Tequlia is correct, most firms get a kick back for every report that is paid for in full. That doesn't mean you shouldn't go for it as it may help your claim, and if it recommends it in your original medical report then the Insurance company may not be willing get to settle injury portion of your claim until it's done.

Earsareburning Mon 27-Jun-16 09:31:28

Thanks Tequilamockinbird and TheWeeBabySeamus1

I thought it was the supermarket who were asking for a psych. report (as a delaying tactic, or to try and limit liability) following the medical assessment. It was not a recommendation within that report - merely a bit of blurb that any possible psych. issues that might have resulted from the accident were outside the area of expertise of the Consultant (retained by the legal firm) who examined me so he could not comment. It's clear from your information that the (supposedly reputable) legal firm is at it!

I had a closer look at their website and it appears that the person I have been dealing with is a Manager, but makes no mention of any LLB qualifications (marisolgonzales was right in suggesting that he is probably a paralegal).

I sent an email (and c.c'd the qualified Solicitor who is in charge of the personal injury department) based on the information given and will telephone the firm later today. Many thanks for all your support.

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