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DAC Beachcroft LLP is ‘by a very long way the leading defendant insurer practice’ in South West England; providing an ‘excellent’ level of service and recommended for its strength in depth. It handles volume and high-value claims, including complex liability and multi-party ones, across a broad spectrum of personal injury cases and has particular strength in handling catastrophic injury claims, particularly those caused by road traffic accidents, with six partners specialising in this field of expertise. Other key areas of expertise are casualty claims which comprise employers’ and public liability as well as industrial disease claims, including claims arising from mesothelioma. Apart from providing litigation services, the team also supports clients with strategic advice, in particular on the impact of litigation on their businesses. ‘First-rate practitioner’ and practice head Sally Yuill is ‘a leading defendant’ personal injury solicitor who has ‘a nationwide reputation as a litigator’. ‘Hands-on litigator’ and associate Caroline Hall, Robert Williams and Cassandra Mitchell, who specialises among other things in advising insurance clients and local authorities on employers’ and public liability claims, are also recommended.

Ashfords LLP’s very strong ‘all-round practice with great individuals’ provides ‘prompt, sound advice’ and enjoys a reputation for being in ‘the upper echelon of skill, professionalism and reliability’. The team handles workplace accident, public liability, fatal accident, brain injury and catastrophic injury claims as well as road accident and amputation cases. Practice head Flora Wood ‘brings experience and common sense’ to her cases and is noted for her ability to robustly fight for her clients. Associate Elizabeth Johnson is ‘extremely professional and very reliable’ and known for her ‘meticulous preparation and case management’. The practice advised a road traffic accident insurer on a £1.7m long-running claim involving serious leg injuries and an above-the-knee amputation, advising the client on the reserve sum required in the case and assisting with likely upcoming costs such as the costs for prosthetic provisions, future earning capacity and care needs. The team also supported Cornish Mutual in handling a public liability multi-track claim involving work-hindering injuries, successfully reducing the damages by a significant amount through extensive gathering of evidence and establishing contributory liability from the insured. Cornish Mutual and the Sandwell Met Borough Council are clients.

Working to ‘excellent standards’, BLM has a strong track record in high-level brain injury, spinal injury and chronic pain cases. The ‘eminent’ practice also has deep expertise in road traffic and workplace accident claims, regularly handling cases with matter values in excess of one million pound. It acts in claims relating to infant brain injuries, the defective design of farming equipment, traumatic and elective amputations, multiple traumatic injuries, chronic pain and fatal accidents, also advising local authorities on public sector risks. Additionally, the practice has experience in matters requiring periodical payments and provisional damages. Southampton-based Joe Wakeford heads the Bristol team, which includes the ‘very able and highly experiencedAndrew Lawson, and Rebecca Shafto; both are noted for their ‘thorough case preparation’. Gallagher Bassett, several local councils including Plymouth City Council, Zurich Municipal and QBE are clients. Recent highlights include advising Direct Line Group on a multimillion-pound claim involving a baby with severe brain injuries which have led to significant behavioural problems over the years, collaborating with the claimant’s solicitor to ensure adequate rehabilitation in the interim period before a final settlement is due to be achieved. The practice also acted for Liverpool Victoria on several claims arising from the deliberate use of a vehicle to kill and cause injury.

Bevan Brittan LLP offers a broad spectrum of personal injury defendant litigation services. It advises on serious head and spinal injuries, including maximum severity cases and is adept at handling high-value claims, including matters involving periodical payment orders. Claims arising from motor accidents, and in particular claims involving both motor insurers and the Motor Insurers Bureau, are a special area of strength. For construction clients, the practice provides specialised advice in claims arising from asbestos-related diseases. It also has expertise in handling dermatitis and loss of hearing cases. The Birmingham-based Adam Kendall is head of the litigation, advisory and regulatory department to which the personal injury defendant practice belongs. The personal injury team includes head of insurance Paul Taverner, who ‘has extensive knowledge’ of the legal environment for insurance companies and provides ‘a personal and detailed service’, especially on complex and high-value injury claims. The team represents buildings and contents insurers in a broad range of claims, including those arising from injuries caused by falls, fires and explosions. Covea Insurance, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, Nottingham County Council, and Neon (formerly Marketform) are clients.

The ‘excellent’ practice at Bond Dickinson LLP specialises in advising insurance companies, self-insured entities and commercial organisations. Its main areas of focus are catastrophic injury claims and high-value claims, but the group also handles motor and disease claims as well as matters involving employers’ and public liability. The practice assists clients with industrial disease claims such as loss of hearing, chronic pain syndrome and stress at work. Practice head David Brown has ‘strong technical knowledge’ and ‘excellent communication skills’. His expertise includes spinal cord injuries, amputation and fatality claims and also claims in relation to product liability. The team is able to offer services in German and Dutch, advising clients in Germany, Switzerland and Austria on issues of English law and has an extensive network of European contacts. It is active in a variety of sectors including transport, retail and manufacturing; RATP Group, AIG, Transdev, and CNA Hardy are clients.

DWF acts for insurers and local authorities across the full spectrum of personal injuries. Claire Gribben heads the practice and specialises in claims arising from brain injuries, spinal injuries, chronic pain cases and fatal accidents. She has recently acted for Direct Line Group in several cases, such as a complex eight-figure-claim in relation to a severe traumatic brain injury resulting in spastic tetra paresis with lifelong severe health consequences for the claimant. The team also defended Direct Line Group in a claim for personal injury and financial loss following an alleged accident at work which caused a back injury - this involved handling complex medical diagnoses and analysing the extent to which the claimant’s history of back pain had contributed to the sustained injury. Director Mark Fowles joined from Browne Jacobson LLP while Trevor Fox, Peter Barnes and Michael Hitchings were added to the team following the merger with Fox Hartley. Technical director Stephen Byass left the practice to become a district judge Clients include Aviva, and a number of local authorities.

Browne Jacobson LLP’s ‘very knowledgeable’ team provides ‘fantastic’ service to a client base which includes insurers, local authorities, and NHS trusts. It has deep expertise in acting in claims relating to psychiatric injuries, sexual abuse and social care, including claims for false imprisonment under the Mental Health Act, failure to nurture and occupiers’ liability. The team also handles cases linked to occupational stress, including claims arising from bullying and harassment, confidentiality breaches, the Human Rights Act, industrial disease, hand-arm-vibration syndrome, loss of hearing and work-related upper limb disorder. The Exeter practice is headed by the Nottingham-based head of insurance Susan Mabbott, Joanne Pruden is the main contact in Exeter and provides ‘great service’; she specialises in complex high-value employers’ liability and public liability work, with a particular focus on working for local authorities and other public bodies. Clients also include schools and academies. Mark Fowles left the practice and now works for DWF.

Wansbroughs provides an ‘outstanding’ ‘niche service’ to clients such as local authorities, social services authorities, educational institutions, insurance companies and the police. The ‘strong’ practice handles serious injury claims, fatal accident claims, claims arising from breaches of the Human Rights Act as well as wrongful arrest and detention claims. Practice head Robert Hams has ‘keen knowledge’ and ‘significant experience of public sector claims’; he specialises among other things in claims arising from stress, bullying and harassment. Cynthia Watts is ‘very thorough’ and noted for her skilful handling of highly sensitive child abuse claims. Consultant John Osmangives good advice particularly regarding subsidence claims’. Clients include several local councils, such as Bristol City Council, but also Zurich Municipal and Aster Group.

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