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  1. Personal injury: claimant
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According to some, Irwin Mitchell’s personal injury practice is ‘a clear market leader for its thoroughness, professionalism and knowledge’. The firm attracts particular praise for its ‘great deal of experience in brain and spinal injury cases’; the Sheffield office has dedicated serious injury teams led by Rachel Aram (‘a tenacious lawyer who is able to see obstacles and manoeuvre around them’) and the ‘commanding and experienced’ Louise Jenkins, which act for clients who have sustained serious brain and spinal cord injuries, as well as other permanent and life-changing injuries. These teams sit within the wider personal injury practice in Sheffield headed by Adrian Budgen, who is ‘extremely knowledgeable and experienced in asbestos disease claims’. The practice in Leeds is headed by Jane Wright and includes Sion Kingston, who leads on serious injury matters. The firm supplements its personal injury expertise with dedicated Court of Protection, damages management and asset management teams, enabling the firm to provide a holistic service across the life cycle of claims.

For some, Stewarts Law LLP’s team of ‘real experts in this field’ is ‘head and shoulders above the competition’. The practice’s ability to ‘empathise very well with severely disabled clients and get really good results’ makes it a natural choice for cases involving fatal accidents or catastrophic injury, including brain and spinal cord injury. Spinal cord and brain injury specialist and head of the Leeds office Daniel Herman is considered ‘an all-round excellent litigator; his calm and reassuring manner, excellent strategic insight and empathy is greatly appreciated by clients’. He is ably assisted by Ben Townsend, who ‘believes in getting the best for his clients’ and recently acted for a claimant injured in a road accident resulting in tetraplegia and brain injury; and Warren Maxwell, who ‘has that great knack of managing to avoid difficulties and get an excellent result even in the most difficult cases’. Maxwell recently acted for a claimant who sustained a spinal cord injury when he fell from ladders while cleaning gutters at the defendant’s premises. Senior associate Rebecca Hill is also recommended.

Diane Parker heads the personal injury practice at Atherton Godfrey Solicitors, which includes highly respected litigator John McQuater. The practice’s expertise encompasses industrial diseases employers’ liability, criminal injury compensation, motor injury claims and occupational deafness.

The Leeds-based Simon Wilson heads Thompsons Solicitors LLP’s national personal injury practice, which has a dedicated serious injury team handling a high number of catastrophic injury claims. Wilson has particular expertise in serious brain injury cases, and is ably assisted by industrial disease specialist Simon Wood, who leads the serious injury team. Marion Voss handles the full range of asbestos-related diseases, with a notable focus on mesothelioma.

Emsleys Solicitors Limited handles a range of personal injury cases, including those involving road traffic accidents, employers’ and occupiers’ liability and public liability. Its innovative approach to handling claims makes it a go-to firm for under-settled cases. Andrew Greenwood heads the team and has an extensive track record in serious brain, spinal and fatal injury cases. He is ably assisted by Natalie Marrison, who is noted for her expertise in claims involving amputees, chronic pain and head injury, and John Hutchings, who specialises in employers’ liability claims.

HLW Keeble Hawson’s ‘well-trained’ practice attracts praise for its ‘efficient management of costs’. David Jones leads the team, which includes the ‘technically capable’ Owen Brown, who leads on industrial disease matters. Jones’s specialisms include employers’ liability, public liability and road traffic cases. In 2016, Mark Hollinghurst joined Switalskis Solicitors.

Harrowells Solicitors has an established track record handling catastrophic injuries arising from road traffic accidents and work-related accidents. Occupational stress claims are another area of expertise for the team, which is led by Richard Wood and which includes John Coulson and Kim Daniells.

Martin Bare heads the personal injury practice at Leeds-based Morrish Solicitors LLP, which operates on a national basis for a growing list of trade union clients. Its coverage runs the gamut of PI matters, from fatal and serious injuries and occupational disease, through to employers’ liability and road traffic accidents. In an illustration of its traction among trade union clients, Martin Bare led the team acting for a member of the Association of Teachers & Lecturers in a claim involving hip injuries sustained during the course of his employment as a vehicle fitter, when a commercial vehicle moved, trapping the claimant between the vehicle and a nearby obstruction. Bare leads the team, which includes Laura Nabozny, who specialises in employers’ liability claims, and Jason London, who regularly handles maximum-severity claims.

Slater and Gordon’s Sheffield office acts as the hub for the firm’s fast-track claim workload, which covers claims concerning road traffic accidents, accidents at work, and occupiers’ liability and product liability. Matthew Tomlinson leads the practice following Jane Cooper’s departure to Spencers Solicitors and the departure of Fozia Hossain, who left to establish The Asbestos Law Partnership LLP with Paul Glanville and Helen Wilson. Tomlinson brings more than 19 years of experience handling multi-track claims, with a particular focus on accident-at-work claims. Also in Sheffield, senior associate Christopher Briggs is noted for his expertise in noise-induced hearing loss, hand arm vibration syndrome and occupational stress claims.

Switalskis Solicitors significantly enhanced its personal injury practice with the recruitment in November 2016 of Mark Hollinghurst from HLW Keeble Hawson. He brings his extensive expertise in claims involving brain and serious injury to the firm’s Doncaster office; Hollinghurst has more than 25 years of experience in the field, including handling claims in excess of £5m concerning minimally conscious clients. In addition to focusing on serious brain injury claims, the firm also fields a team dedicated to handling child abuse claims led by David Greenwood from the Wakefield office.

Taylor & Emmet LLP’s personal injury practice provides a ‘persistently high-quality service; the team communicates effectively and provides regular updates, ensuring the case is driven through with due diligence throughout the process’. Jonathan Stittle heads the practice, which includes John Green, who ‘communicates in a language clients understand and is always efficient and thorough in his approach’. Stittle has a strong track record in high-value and complex cases, as illustrated by his work in a claim involving a motocross accident leading to paraplegia, which the claimant alleged was due to a defect in the motocross track; Stittle successfully obtained a settlement running into the hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Bridge McFarland’s personal injury practice is led by Leanne Keating, who handles a range of claims involving industrial accidents and diseases, and includes Kathryn Hudson, who is singled out for her expertise in claims involving injured seafarers and handles serious and fatal injuries arising from motorcycle accidents. Other recommended individuals include James Burrell, whose expertise covers cases involving brain and spinal cord injury, amputation, injury at birth and psychological disorders such as post-traumatic stress; and Debbie Schofield, who handles a range of industrial disease claims.

Lupton Fawcett LLP’s Jack Ferraro has an established reputation for handling claims related to road traffic accidents, work-related personal injury industrial diseases. He leads a team that includes Jackie Rowe, whose expertise covers road traffic accident cases, as well as employers’ and public liability claims; and senior associate Jonathan Linton, who handles a range of accidents at work and public liability matters.

Graysons Solicitors fields a team of ‘personal injury specialists’ that handles a range of high-value and complex cases, with particular expertise in severe brain injury cases. Managing partner and head of the firm’s litigation departments, Peter Clark, has more than 30 years of experience handling industrial disease claims, including mineworkers’ and industrial deafness claims. He is ably assisted by Mark Fisher, who recently achieved a five-figure settlement on behalf of a worker whose hand was crushed by a forklift truck when attempting to clear an obstruction; Lucy Flynn, who is representing a sheet metal worker who suffered a fractured ankle and shoulder as well as anxiety when a clamp holding a balustrade broke, causing the balustrade to fall and trap him; and Belinda Lancaster, who is singled out for her track record in industrial deafness claims. Public liability expert Jonathan West is also recommended.

At Howells, Sharon Rinaldi attracts praise for her ‘good grasp of the issues’. She handles a range of claims involving accidents at work, catastrophic and fatal road traffic claims, and product, occupier and public liability claims.

The personal injury practice at Hudgell Solicitors is spread across its offices in Hull, Leeds and London and handles a wide range of claims, including those involving brain and head injuries, spinal injuries, paralysis and fatal accidents. 2016 mandates included obtaining a settlement of £95,000 on behalf of a client who lost four of his fingers while using an unsafe circular saw, a six-figure settlement on behalf of a motorcyclist who suffered severe injuries after a car towing a caravan pulled across his path, causing him to become trapped underneath, and managing the ongoing support to a client whose partner and daughter were killed in a car accident. Jane Woodcock is the name to note.

Ramsdens ‘serves its clients well and secures good results’. Steven Singh heads the personal injury practice, which includes consultant Jonathan Dixon, who is ‘a reliable, solid performer’ with more than 20 years of experience handling claims, many worth in excess of £1m. The practice’s experience includes accidents at work and road traffic accident claims.

Terence Regan heads the personal injury practice at Wake Smith Solicitors Limited. Recent matters include claims involving post-traumatic stress disorder, workplace accidents, and an assault on a teaching assistant by a pupil. David Brown is also recommended.

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