Tag Archives: Hilton Armstrong

The only Teesside firm top ranked for Clinical Negligence by Legal 500

We are the only firm in Teesside to be ranked Tier 1 for Clinical Negligence work by the prestigious Legal 500 Guide to the UK Legal Profession.  The guide, one of the leading independent guides to the profession, notes that

“Armstrong Foulkes LLP’s well-regarded boutique practice is led by ‘honest and straightforward’ managing partner Hilton Armstrong, whose recent cases include a catastrophic brain injury resulting from oxygen starvation at birth. Kathryn Watson and Ashleigh Holt are also recommended”

There are only three other firms in the whole of the North East of England, Yorkshire and Humberside who also have a Tier 1 listing and they are based in Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle.

See more at:  http://www.legal500.com/c/north/insurance/clinical-negligence-claimant

Hilton Armstrong – October 2016

Claimants Travel Expenses

Can a Claimant recover his expenses for attending a medical expert or visiting his lawyer?

If the other side ask you to attend for a medical examination by their own doctor then you will be able to recover your travel and other expenses (lost earnings, food etc.) from them. They should pay these within 28 days of the examination.

  • If you have to see a doctor for a report that your own Solicitor needs then the position is more complicated. It is usual for your Solicitor to reimburse your expenses in attending if you can give him the receipts. Sometimes if the expenses are high, for example you have to travel to London then he may give you some money beforehand if you cannot afford to pay yourself. The difficulty arises when you try to claim these expenses from the other side if you win your case.   The Defendants regularly object to paying them.
  • The way forward in this scenario is for your Solicitor to claim these expenses in your case against the Defendant. However, this means that there has to be a deduction from your compensation to reimburse the Solicitor for what he has paid to you. If that didn’t happen you would be paid twice, once by the Solicitor and once by the other side in your compensation.
  • You cannot claim your expenses in going to see your Solicitor. This is because those costs are considered to be the normal costs of being a litigant and therefore not recoverable.

Hilton Armstrong – June 2016

Delay in Diagnosing Gall Bladder Cancer

This is another sad case where an avoidable error started a chain of events that led to a tragic conclusion.

Simon was 56 years of age when he had his gall bladder removed.  As is usual, this was then sent to the Pathology labs to check if there was any evidence of cancer.  He returned to see the Consultant a few weeks later and was told that the operation had been a success; he had been given the ‘all clear’ and so could return to work.  Unfortunately, as later transpired the Consultant had read the pathology report wrongly – he should have told Simon that there was evidence of cancer in the removed organ and immediately referred him to a specialist for extensive surgery.

Two months before his death Simon suffered severe abdominal pains and investigations were undertaken.  However, it wasn’t until a month before his death that the full details of the Pathologists report were realised.  By that time Simon was very poorly and his condition was inoperable.  He died 7 months after being given the ‘all clear’.

The hospital could not avoid admitting that the Pathologists report had been “incorrectly interpreted” by the Consultant.  However, they defended the claim on the basis that even if they had acted immediately it would have been too late to operate – they were saying Simon would have died anyway.  This was most distressing to the family.

Luckily the Surgeon we retained for the claim was a national expert on gall bladder cancer and could say with real authority that had Simon been operated on he would have survived with a normal life expectancy.  The claim settled a few days before the trial was due to start.

Hilton Armstrong – March 2016

Armstrong Foulkes LLP secures top accolade from national Law Society

We have recently secured the national Law Society’s legal practice quality mark, Lexcel.

Lexcel is developed specifically for the legal profession.  It is an optional, recognised accreditation scheme for law firms and in-house legal departments which gives assurance that a practice meets high client care and business management.

To gain and retain Lexcel accreditation, practices must undergo a rigorous initial then annual application and assessment process.  This includes conducting background checks and an on-site visit from an independent experienced trained Lexcel assessor.

While we are proud to have secured Lexcel, it is our clients and staff who are the main beneficiaries.  They can be assured that the way we manage the practice has their interests at heart and runs efficiently.  There is a lot of choice in the legal services market, but being Lexcel accredited demonstrates our commitment to client care and best practice.

Jonathan Smithers, President of the Law Society of England and Wales, said: “Gaining and maintaining Lexcel is a considerable feat.  There are many facets of being a Lexcel accredited law firm, including excellence in client care.  A real commitment to customer service in today’s evermore competitive legal services market is vital.”

“By undergoing the rigorous Lexcel application and assessment process, practices can show the positive steps which they are taking to help clients in the increasingly diverse and complicated legal services market.”

“The scheme is a beacon of quality to clients and potential clients alike.”

We join more than 1700 other legal practices in England and Wales with Lexcel accreditation.  The practice management accolade has also gone international, with firms in Scotland, the Middle East, Poland and the Republic of Ireland having gained accreditation.

Hilton Armstrong – 21 January 2016

Shortlisted for Northern Law Awards!

“Celebrating the great wealth of legal talent and success within the region, the Northern Law Awards is the law event for all those practising and working in the legal industry in the North of England” http://www.lawawards.co.uk/event/

We were delighted to be shortlisted in two categories; Small Firm of the Year and Personal Injury/Clinical Negligence Department of the Year. This is the first year this has happened. The competition is fierce with the shortlists containing all the top players.

We gave it our best shot in the presentations to the Judges and await the results…

Hilton Armstrong – June 2015

NHS reports an 18% increase in claims made

So why is there such an increase? It is probably a combination of three factors:

1.     Since the dismantling of the Legal Aid scheme and introduction of ‘no win no fee’ agreements more people can afford to employ a lawyer to investigate a medical mishap.

2.     There was a rush of claims just before April 2013 when a change to the rules meant that the NHS no longer had to pay a success fee if the claim was successful. If clients were signed up after then, the success fee came out of their compensation.

3.     There are many new entrants to the market (Solicitors with little experience of these claims) who are taking on cases and lodging claims that have not been properly investigated.

There was always going to be a blip for reasons ‘1’ and ‘2’ above. That will work its way through. However, the increase attributable to the new entrants is very unpredictable. They have entered the market because the Government has reduced their fee income from Road Traffic Accident work. They see medical claims as a way of replacing their lost income and keeping their paralegals employed.

We have been doing this type of work in the Teesside County Durham and North Yorkshire region for over 20 years and we have not seen the standard of medical practice drop dramatically over this period. Generally the level is good. Mistakes will always happen – it is human error, and no amount of form filling, privatisation or retraining will eradicate these lapses.

It’s the new entrants that everybody should be worried about:

  • The injured patient; because they have put their case in the hands of a non-specialist
  • The NHS; because they have to investigate claims that have not been properly risk assessed.
  • The specialist medical lawyers; because the new entrants are giving us a bad name.

Hilton Armstrong – January 2015

Cleveland Short Course Triathlon June 2014

1500m open water swim, 40k bike ride and a 9k cross country run…

Competing in the 50-60 year old category I came 8th out of 21, which is better than I expected. The water was quite cold and I seem to be a bit disorientated judging by this picture! Out of 130 entrants I was 49th out of the water, 43rd fastest on the bike, but lost it on the run (as usual) finishing 86th. Overall I was 59th which I was pleased about. It was 10 minutes faster than the time I did two years ago.

For Christmas I want a time trial bike and a new pair of running legs!

Hilton Armstrong

cleveland triathlon 2014

 

Injection injury denies student dream career

This was a nerve injury case which went to trial. The Claimant was awarded £94,386 which was made up of PSLA (£16,000), past loss of earnings (£32,500), future loss of earnings (£40,000), miscellaneous (£675) and interest of £5,211.

Peter was 17 and studying for his ‘A’ levels when he had a sudden onset of stomach pain. His mother took him to an out-of-hours GP surgery where a diagnosis of suspected appendicitis was made. Peter was in pain so the GP gave him a pain relieving injection into his left thigh. He was then taken to hospital and had surgery to remove his appendix.

When he recovered from his surgery he discovered that he had numbness in his left leg just below the knee and into the foot – a “drop foot” injury. This usually occurs when there is some damage to the peroneal nerve which runs all the way down the leg. The only time when this could have happened was when the GP gave him the pain killing injection into his thigh.

He and his mother were not going to do anything about this until they were advised by the Neurologist at hospital that they should go see a Solicitor. In cross-examination the Neurologist denied this.

Peter brought a claim against the GP who gave him the injection, alleging that the needle was inserted into the incorrect area, namely into the peroneal nerve, and this caused his disability. The case was defended throughout and went for a 5 day trial in Middlesbrough County Court with 2 experts on each side. Only £16,000 of the sum he was awarded was for pain and suffering for the injury, the rest was for past and future loss of earnings. Peter had hoped to go into a career with the Forestry Commission but that was not possible as he was now unable to move effectively on uneven ground.

Hilton Armstrong – June 2014