Sgt X was engaged in the repair of a Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System when he was subjected to a series of unprovoked assaults by a Staff Sergeant who was his colleague and superior officer. Sgt X subsequently underwent surgery for the removal of a large intracranial haematoma. He has been left with residual symptoms which have prevented him from returning to his pre-accident role.
Sgt X’s solicitor, Helen Clifford, head of personal injury at MW Solicitors said
“I am delighted that we have finally achieved justice for Sgt X. Not only was he assaulted in a series of shocking and unprovoked attacks, he was denied justice through the Army’s internal procedures. The MoD has tried to prevent Sgt X from securing justice and proper compensation. They made unsubstantiated claims against him, failed to follow their internal procedures and failed to disclose relevant documents during the course of the claim. Sgt X has remained in the Army throughout the case and is now being considered for medical discharge. He is a brave and determined man. Sgt X’s assailant was promoted rather than disciplined following the assault. I would urge the MoD to review its disciplinary procedures and their implementation”.
Sgt X said
“Before being assaulted, by a member of my chain of command that I had known for 17 years, I was adhering to what the army thrives on and this is ‘Operational Effectiveness’. I was ultimately assaulted not once but twice by the same person. He was head of the Regiment’s boxing team and introduced the motto ‘Fighting Solves Everything’. I also didn’t retaliate as there were junior members present. After the assaults I, (the victim), was taken away from post whilst the assailant was left in post and ultimately promoted.
The Regiment gave me no support or backing. They at first promised me the world in relation to getting me booked on educational courses and rehabilitation programmes. None of which materialised. They realised it would be a logistical nightmare as I had to surrender my licence for at least 6 months. Furthermore they agreed to take me to all my hospital appointments, but rarely did. My wife had to take holiday from work to take me to the majority of these appointments. During my time on sick leave I had no rehabilitation, which is mandatory for service personnel who are wounded, injured or sick. The Army failed to rehabilitate me for a further 3 and a half years until I was sent to Headley Court. In my opinion, if I was given elements of this rehabilitation soon after the haemorrhage I would be a different person today. The lack of backing and support given to me has left me with life changing differences in relation to the person I was prior to the assault. After returning to work I had to beg and borrow lifts to work from people who lived in the local area as yet again the Army’s welfare system failed to pick me up and I had no driving licence for 14 months.
I was prevented from telling my version of events to hierarchy who visited the Regiment or APC Glasgow for 4 years as this would discredit the assailant and the chain of command. SSgt ‘Y’ was then promoted to WO2 and given a Brigade Commanders Commendation for his boxing achievements. My promotion prospects ceased as I was seen to be ‘problem child’ within the Regiment, also my injuries restricted me in competing with my peers for promotion.
I started legal proceedings as a result of the lack of support from my chain of command. The failings in their ‘duty of care’ in accordance with policies and instructions set out by the MoD was another reason for me to take independent legal advice. Even when I told my immediate hierarchy I was taking legal proceedings they didn’t believe me, also reinforcing the ‘problem child’ perception. Luckily as a result of the care and support from my wife in taking me to hospital on the night of the operation I was able to start legal proceedings.
Throughout the legal process the support given by Helen Clifford and her team has been outstanding. Helen is a solicitor who knows which consultants to instruct and represent your case in the best possible way. We have seen some of the country’s leading consultants who also supported and understood our case and were also surprised as to how little the Army has rehabilitated me. For the past 4 years, my wife, daughter and myself the whole legal process has been tiring and a long slog, with no support or backing from the Army. However, Helen has been there to guide, support and advise us all the way. Not only to me but she has always been concerned for the welfare of my wife and daughter too. Helen truly is an admirable lady who our respect for, has grown over the last 4 years throughout the process. Even having been involved in a separate traumatic event that occurred 16 months after the haemorrhage, Helen guided us in the right direction. Helen Clifford, as we have discovered is not your average solicitor, as we have found she is there at the end of the phone or an email 24 hours a day to listen to your concerns or queries about your case. This, in itself, we commend her for. Helen’s devotion to her clients, their family and the case is paramount.
In reference to the outcome, we are pleased that the MoD has settled out of court and justice has been served. However, the settlement will never recoup the injuries and illnesses over the last 4 years and the changes that I continue to live with for my family and myself. My future civilian employment will also have been impacted by what has occurred over the last 4 years. People on the outside and those that have been in charge of me don’t realise what impact the whole event has had on our family. The MoD admitted liability, this is on the basis that they are vicariously liable for the actions of SSgt ‘Y’. It was their intention to seek to recover any outlay they have in the case from SSgt ‘Y’.
My sincere thanks go to my family and close friends for their support over the last 4 years. Especially my wife and daughter, who took me to North Tees Hospital in December 2012 and ultimately saved my life. To Helen Clifford and her team at MW Solicitors for enabling us to now move on with our lives and future in 2017 and beyond. Thank You."
At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including service personnel who have been unfairly treated by their employer through no fault of their own.
A Sergeant who was assaulted by his colleagues whilst stationed in Cyprus has recovered substantial damages from the Ministry of Defence following a fight for justice which has lasted almost 6 years.
Sgt X had received professional appraisals of excellence and was due for further promotion at the time he was subjected to an unprovoked assault which resulted in physical and psychological injuries which ended his career.
Sgt X’s case was that the assailants were seeking to enforce Mess Rules which prohibit the wearing of trainers in the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess bar. The assault occurred during the course of Sgt X’s employment and was carried out by employees of the MoD. A claim was brought against the MoD on the grounds that they were vicariously liable for the actions of their personnel.
The MoD denied liability throughout and the case was due to be heard at the High Court in London in April 2017. The MoD agreed terms at a settlement meeting on 8 December 2016.
Sgt X’s solicitor, Helen Clifford, head of personal injury at MW Solicitors said
“I am delighted that we have finally achieved justice for Sgt X. Not only was he assaulted in a shocking and unprovoked attack, he was denied justice through the Army’s internal procedures. The MoD has fought this case and denied liability throughout. Despite being turned away by 2 previous firms of solicitors Sgt X was determined to fight for justice. His determination is a testament to what a fine soldier he was. I would urge the MoD to review its policies in relation to the consumption of alcohol by personnel on military basis. Sgt X is not alone in having been subject to such an assault”.
Sgt X said
“This savage unprovoked assault was carried out because I was wearing white trainers in the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ mess bar. I was assaulted by work colleagues while posted overseas. The attack was likened to the actions of a ‘pack of wolves’. During the prolonged attack I suffered severe head injuries leading to memory loss, physical and psychological injuries which ended my military career.
Me and my family have been totally appalled by the whole Military legal system throughout the 6 years. The MoD, Service Prosecuting Authority, and the Service Police, all have failed under its own produces and guidelines to protect its employees. The legal process was a long drawn out process from start to finish misleading, inaccurate and unpleasant. A lot of buck passing was obvious and self-preservation. Subsequently as a victim of a very severe assault I feel there was a serious failings throughout the organisation which was unsupportive and grossly negligent.
We have been with 2 previous solicitors and we were not happy with the way our case was been dealt with so we changed to Helen Clifford, who achieved us the right result. This was overwhelming to say the last. Receiving a positive outcome on my case has been the best news for a long time. The services provided by Helen and her team at MW were outstanding, exceptional in her field, Helen is efficient and very friendly. She conducted our case with great care and professionalism. After 2 previous solicitors we needed someone that we could trust, not only did we trust Helen but we could see she believed in us. I would highly recommend McMillan Williams Solicitors, in particular Helen Clifford and her legal family. I found myself in a situation with the MoD I was nervous and apprehensive about how to deal with the MoD. Helen and her team took me through the legal process with ease patience and diligence. She just took the weight off my shoulders whilst keeping me in the loop at every stage. Her negotiation skills were unwavering and confident which ensured me the best possible result for my case. Can’t thank you enough nothing short than first class."
At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including service personnel who have been unfairly treated by their employer through no fault of their own.
In a recent interview with the Guardian, Chief Coroner of England and Wales, Peter Thornton QC said:
“There are cases where legal aid should, if possible, be made available for families, particularly where one or more organs of the state are represented.”
At McMillan Williams we strongly support the work of Health and Safety Campaign Groups such as The Hazards Campaign and Families against Corporate Killers (FACK) who have long called for the 'equality of arms' for all families of those killed by work.
We welcome what the Chief Coroner says, but we want the right to legal aid for representation at inquests to be extended to all families of those killed by work whether the state is directly involved or not.
Families who face up to companies (large or small) who killed their family members frequently have no legal representation at Inquests, whereas companies, particularly large multinationals, often have access to a slew of expensive barristers and corporate lawyers.
This means that there is often inadequate examination of the issues or the failings of the companies themselves, and of the failures of state regulatory or enforcement frameworks. It is these frameworks that are designed to keep work safe and to hold employers to account which contributes to the prevention of future deaths.
At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including the families of those who have been killed by work.
We are proud to announce that Helen Clifford has been named as Lawyer Monthly's Personal Injury Lawyer of the Year in their Women in Law Awards 2016.
Helen is a Partner and Head of McMillan William's Personal Injury department. After qualifying in 1996, at niche practice Clifford and Co, Helen went on to become senior partner in 2002. In 2012 she joined Leigh Day and set up and ran their Construction Injury department before joining MW in 2015 as Head of Personal Injury.
Helen's practise covers the full range of personal injury claims and a large proportion of her work is catastrophic injury cases with a concentration on brain and spinal injuries.
She is a recognised expert and speaker in the field of accidents at work, with a particular interest in the construction industry. She conducts complex and high value claims, including fatal accidents, which have occurred on large infrastructure projects in London.
Helen has a reputation for maximising her clients’ claims, is adept in dealing with issues of quantum and liability, for being a skilled and tenacious negotiator and is tactically very able. She is committed to her clients and achieves excellent results whilst providing the support they require throughout the course of their claims, ensuring they have access to appropriate rehabilitation and early interim payments.
In the last 12 months Helen has settled three claims for in excess of £1.5m and one in excess of £2m. Her current caseload includes 6 fatal accident claims, a young paraplegic and several teenagers with brain injuries.
In addition to her fee earning role, Helen She is also a tireless campaigner for improved Health and Safety in the workplace and is a driving force behind McMillan William's social media campaigns and support of FACK and Hazards Campaign.
Helen’s role includes marketing and business development as well as managing the department. She is an effective manager and mentor. She is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Health and Safety
At MW our mission is "to make quality legal services accessible to everyone", including those who have been injured or killed in workplace accidents. If you or your family have suffered an accident at work and would like to speak to one of our expert injury solicitors, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at email@example.com.
McMillan Williams are proud to support the work of Families Against Corporate Killers and the Hazards Campaign on International Workers' Memorial Day.
Our Head of Personal Injury Helen Clifford is a specialist Catastrophic Injury Solicitor and a tireless campaigner for better health and safety in the workplace.
Helen is acting on behalf of the family of Marian Nemit and will be attending the memorial at the Bakers Arms, Leyton. Marian tragically died aged just 21, from injuries he received whilst working on a shop re-fit in Leyton in April 2015.
UPDATE - A Photo Gallery from the above events is now available.
FACK is a non-profit organisation based in the UK which campaigns on behalf of families bereaved by workplace deaths. It was founded in July 2006 by members of the Bereaved by Work North West support group and the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre. The organisation campaigns for increased funding for the enforcement of health and safety law and changes to the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 to make directors criminally responsible for health and safety offences with the possibility of imprisonment.
FACK also provide guidance for bereaved families to obtain legal help and emotional support.
The Hazards Campaign (Website) is a UK national network established in 1988 to campaign for improved workplace health, safety and welfare, and a reduction in the incidence of work-related injury, ill-health and death. It brings together Hazards Centres, Occupational Health Projects, trade unions, health and safety groups, specific campaigns and individual health and safety activists. Specific campaign groups include the Construction Safety Campaign, the Centre for Corporate Accountability (CCA), the UK WorkStress Network, Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK), asbestos victims' support groups, and RSI Action.
The campaign works by; sharing information and skills; campaigning on specific issues; acting as a national voice; issuing press releases; holding conferences; establishing national initiatives, including Workers Memorial Day; lobbying MPs, MEPs and statutory bodies like the Health & Safety Commission and the Health & Safety Executive, and organising demonstrations and protests.
28th April is the internationally recognised day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work. It is recognised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
This year’s International Workers’ Memorial Day theme centres on “strong laws, strong enforcement and strong unions”.
In support of that theme, we ask that you acknowledge the mums, dads, wives, partners, siblings, sons and daughters, whose strength is displayed in so many ways because their loved ones left for work one day, never to return.
You can find out more about International Workers' Memorial Day events taking place around the world via the website 28april.org.
MW Head of Personal Injury, Helen Clifford, is interviewed in Issue 71 of Lawyer Monthly magazine and they have kindly given us permission to include an excerpt for our clients.
Beginning our feature looking into catastrophic injury claims, and particularly the revised Rehabilitation Code, Lawyer Monthly speaks to Helen Clifford, partner, Head of Personal Injury and Joanna Bailey, partner, from McMillan Williams Solicitors in London. Helen, who qualified in 1996, is a catastrophic injury solicitor, construction industry expert and health and safety campaigner. Joanna qualified in 1995 and is also a catastrophic injury solicitor, Law Society Personal Injury Panel member and assessor and a road safety campaigner.
Helen is supported by a handpicked team of committed and respected solicitors of which Joanna is only one. Other team members include Justina Molloy, the co-founder of the Cambridge Medico-Legal Forum which meets to solidify links between the legal and medical community. Amy Hillgrove, a Member of the Association of Personal Lawyers’ (APIL) which has been fighting for the rights of injured people for over 25 years and Rachel Glover, the Head of the Fast Track Unit.
Lawyer Monthly (LM): The revised Rehabilitation Code became operational on 1 December 2015. What are some of the key amendments and how do you feel they will benefit serious and catastrophic injury claimants
Helen Clifford (HC): The last Rehabilitation Code was 8 years ago; the latest 2015 version expands upon rather than amends the previous one.
The 2015 code emphasises the need for collaboration between Claimant solicitor and compensator when assessing and providing rehabilitation. The code encourages all parties to adopt this collaborative approach throughout the whole of the case, not just at the initial stages whilst the 2007 code concentrated more on what happened at the outset of the case.
At McMillan Williams we recognise the need to assess every case whether it is of high or low value individually on its merits as every client’s circumstances are different. The Code specifies that the health and economic benefits of early rehabilitation, regardless of agreement on liability, are particularly strong for a catastrophic injury. The 2015 code then sets out the separate assessment processes, reports and recommendations for lower-value injuries and medium, severe and catastrophic injuries. The code recommends a formal Immediate Needs Assessment by a Case Manager who can also support the establishment of a multi-disciplinary team across both the NHS/private sector. It is the Case Manager who works to set up effective communication between these different professionals enabling everyone involved in the treatment, care and rehabilitation to take a systematic approach.
If the recommendations cannot be agreed, the 2015 code suggests that general interim payments should be made which would allow the continuity of treatment. In our experience, the free flow of interim payments is essential in all catastrophic and severe cases as it allows a care package to be established and eases any financial worries the Claimant and their family may have.
LM: How has the new Guide to the Conduct of Cases Involving Serious Injury impacted catastrophic injury claims in the UK so far? Do you feel that the improvements will result in a more quick and efficient settling of claims?
HC: As Claimants are individuals the time in which their personal claim can be concluded differs as the impact of each accident and injury is specific to them. A commitment to prompt disclosure should encourage the early identification of any key issues. If these matters can be identified and addressed promptly, this should avoid unnecessary delay later in the case. Ultimately the medical expert’s recommendations, the ability to follow these and their outcome, determine the pace of the case.
LM: You assist clients with brain injury claims – given that head injury claims can be one of the most complex claims to deal with and require careful consideration, how do you ensure that the full nature and extent of the injury is understood? What are the challenges of dealing with such complex medical conditions?
HC: It is essential to establish a robust relationship with both the Claimant and their family. Claimants can understandably try to downplay their ongoing difficulties as they want to recover and not be considered disabled. In more severe cases Claimants are either unaware or unable to articulate the changes that have taken place. Here their family plays a key role in helping the solicitor to understand the changes in their loved one’s personality, temperament and challenges they face. Building a strong professional but warm relationship with the Claimant and their family is crucial to obtain the right instructions about the impact of the incident on their lives. This helps understand the Claimant’s day to day life so that the correct medical experts are identified, fully instructed and can report all the implications, but critically, to provide recommendations for treatment.
LM: What are the legal options available to clients whose brain injury has been initially overlooked which has caused further problems concerning the health of the Claimant? How common are such medical negligence cases in the UK?
HC: When it comes to emergency treatment, those treating the Claimant will give priority to life threatening injuries. They may not immediately appreciate a brain injury has occurred as the Claimant can present as normal. The family is crucial in helping to establish the extent of any injury and ensuring this is investigated. Where the injury is initially overlooked, the road to rehabilitation can be slower. These cases are uncommon and do not necessarily amount to medical negligence.
The Solicitor must approach these cases with compassion but also tact. A Defendant may argue that a loved one was to blame wholly or partially for an accident, this needs to be handled honestly but with compassion. The Solicitor can advise the family through the process of attending a Coroners’ Court and/or criminal trial and assist with Probate. Simple things such as noting the anniversary of the incident and not sending correspondence around that date can make a difference to the family’s ability to cope with the litigation process.
Unfortunately, an open case often means that the family feels that they are in limbo and cannot move forwards. Therefore, particularly in these cases, the Solicitor should aim for swift resolution to assist the family in coming to terms with their loss.
If you or a family member have been affected by a Catastrophic Injury and wish to talk to one of our experienced Personal Injury Solicitors call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to the Lawyer Monthly team for kindly allowing us to feature this excerpt. You can read the full interview in Issue 71 of Lawyer Monthly.
MW will be representing the family of Mark Seward at the inquest today. Mr Seward was tragically killed in a workplace accident on 27 May 2015 whilst working for AGD Equipment Limited at their premises in Stratford-upon-Avon. He was airlifted to University Hospital Coventry but was pronounced dead soon after arrival.
Mr Seward’s widow, Tracey, has been supported throughout by hers and Mark’s families and in particular by her brother, Michael Lancaster of the GMB.
Tracey’s solicitor, Helen Clifford, Partner and Head of Personal Injury at McMillan Williams Solicitors, comments
“We are attending the Inquest today to ascertain the events surrounding Mark’s death. We are working closely with the police and HSE who have carried out a very thorough investigation, for which the family is grateful. Mark’s death is a tremendous loss to his family. They would like lessons to be learned to prevent another family going through the same trauma.”
Helen is a staunch campaigner for Health and Safety in the construction industry and adds
“I was contacted by Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) very soon after Mark’s death and have been involved in every aspect of the Inquest process. It is of considerable importance that families are represented from as early a stage as possible. I work closely with FACK and the Hazards Campaign. I support their campaign for strong laws and strong enforcement. In 2016 no one should lose their life at work”
At the Inquest held on the 29th March 2016, the Jury’s conclusion was accidental death. However, the Jury pointed out that there were a number of additional relevant features to the case. Namely:
• No specific Risk Assessment or method statement for the task being completed by Mr. Seward.
• No clear labels on the controls of the pump being used
• No instruction manual for the pumb being used
• The pump was capable of delivering pressures greater than 800 Bar, more than 3 times greater than the normal operating pressure of the cylinder.
• Additional pressure guages to understand the residual pressure of the cylinder had not been used. The pressure relief valve was set to maximum pressure.
• Pilot operated check valves on the cylinder maintained the test pressure applied.
Mr David Clark, Assistant Coroner for the coroner area of Warwickshire, listed a number of concerns in his report to AGD Equipment Ltd and to the Construction Plant-Hire Association. The purpose of those reports is to prevent future deaths.
MW Specialist Injury Solicitor, Helen Clifford, has settled a claim in record time (2 years 4 months from accident to settlement).
Our client, who was retired, suffered catastrophic spinal injuries resulting in tetraplegia, when the car he was travelling in as a passenger overturned on the M25.
After spending over 2 years in hospital he has only just moved into an adapted property and has ongoing accommodation and care needs which will require 24 hour care for the remainder of his life.
At the joint settlement meeting in January, the case was settled and our client received a lump sum payment of £1.35 million and a Periodical Payment Order (PPO) of £250,000 per annum. The annual payments are index linked so increase each year and are guaranteed for the remainder of our client’s life.
Helen instructed Vince Williams, of 9 Gough Square to act as barrister in the case.
At MW our mission is to make quality legal services accessible to everyone and our team of highly experienced specialist injury lawyers are here to help you. If you or a family member have been injured in a road traffic accident and don’t feel that you are getting the justice you deserve call us today on 0203 551 8500 or email us at email@example.com
MW Solicitors will be showing their strong support for the Spinal Injuries Association at tonight's SIA Legal Dinner by donating a prize for the fundraising Auction. In attendance will be members of our Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence teams who are experts in accidents and collisions resulting in Spinal Injury, Joanna Bailey, Michael Hartley, Rachel Glover, Jacqui Hayat and Siobhan Mason.
With a selection of dates and race circuits to choose from 4 guests will spend the day with the Talan Motorsport Racing team, including lunch and accommodation. You will get VIP access to see the team in action at an iconic british circuit with unparralelled access to the team.
This truly remarkable team is the brainchild of Talan Skeels-Piggins, a spinal injury survivor himself. Following on from the team's success in 2014 they expanded their stable of riders to include 1 paraplegic and 1 above knee amputee. Exciting new additions to the team in 2016 will see them expand their existing motorcycle racing with British Motorcycle Race Club (BMCRC) and NG Road Racing Series. http://talanmotorsport.co.uk/
Our specialist injury lawyer Joanna Bailey returns as a guest lecturer for the Kent Police Family Liaison Officer (FLO) Professional Development Day.
The event aims to support those officers’ who volunteer to assist seriously injured and beavered members’ of the public following an accident.
Joanna has attended and spoken at this event since 2008. This year's focus will relate to the specifics of personal injury claims, namely:
The lecture also includes a case study based in Kent, where a McMillan Williams client’s claim was valued at over £450,000 when a previous firm had valued the claim at only £30,000. Clearly demonstrating how getting the right advice is paramount to the successful resolution of a claim.
The day will see lectures on a number of subjects including one focusing on the Shoreham Air Crash in August 2015 when 11 people were tragically killed and 16 injured. The incident required a number of deployments by Kent Family Liasion Officers to local families. The lecture will also hear from members of their Human Resources team who have to handle the traumatic effects on staff mental health when attending incidents in such demanding circumstances.