In the latest in our Meet the Lawyer series, we speak with Rachel Thain, senior associate at Enable Law, who tells us more about her specialism in cases involving the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)
Tell us about your experience to date
Beginning my career in general personal injury, I then developed a specialism in abuse claims and high value/complex applications to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). It is the latter work which has given me experience in working with those who have suffered significant brain injury as a result of a violent assault. These comprise a wide range of violent crimes, including domestic violence.
I am passionate about supporting those with life changing brain or spinal cord injuries with their application to the CICA to ensure they receive the correct level of award. It is important for those who have suffered such injuries as a result of a violent crime to know that they may have a route to compensation and to receive the support they need to pursue this. I aim to make the process as easy for them as possible, ensuring the correct evidence is obtained to ensure their injuries are fully investigated.
What makes brain and spinal cord injury claims different to general personal injury claims?
The life-changing nature of brain and spinal cord injury claims means that it is so important that the client and their family are supported with the highest level of care to guide them through the process of making a claim, which can at times seem overwhelming. From experience in ensuring that the full impact of the injury is fully considered, to being aware of the level and extent of care that can be recoverable from the CICA through the case, such claims are unique. It is important for me as a lawyer to ensure I approach each claim in this way.
How important is it to appoint a lawyer with specialism in brain and spinal injury claims?
It is vitally important to instruct a lawyer who has direct experience relevant to the circumstances of their client where such serious injuries have been sustained. Such clients should have a lawyer who is able to guide them through the process in a clear way, ensuring the most appropriate evidence is obtained in order to secure the right amount of compensation to meet their needs.
Can you share an example of a particularly challenging case you have worked on, and how you overcame these challenges, to secure a positive outcome for the client?
I had a client that came to me a few years after they had settled their CICA claim directly for a few thousand pounds. The reason they came to be was that they suffered a deterioration in their condition a few years after their claim had been settled that was not anticipated. I was instructed and struggled to obtain relevant documents due to the time that had passed. It didn’t help that I was working under an older version of the CICA Scheme. In this case I needed to demonstrate real determination and prepare the application carefully to ensure the requirements of the Scheme were met to allow the original application to be reopened despite struggling to get the CICA to engage with me. In the end, I was able to successfully reopen their case on medical grounds and secure an increased award of over £200,000 that was life-changing for my client.
Can and should a client change their lawyer if they are not happy with how the case is progressing?
Yes, absolutely! It is very important that a client has positive and trusting relationship with their lawyer. The process of making a claim can be long and challenging for the client that has to relive details of the incident that led to their injury and having a lawyer that is both expert in their field and the client can trust makes a big difference. In CICA claims, if someone has initially begun the process of an application themselves but then decide they may need some support, specialist lawyers like myself are able to step in and represent them for the purposes of the claim part way through the process.
Can you share a couple of your personal career highlights
The highlights that come to mind are being able to support my clients and their families in difficult circumstances to ensure they receive the right level of compensation and receive the support they need to achieve the best quality of life possible.
For example, achieving a significant award from the CICA for a particularly vulnerable client who would likely have not pursued an application for compensation without specialist support. I was able to guide him through the claims process and recover compensation for his injuries, as well as an award for a lifelong loss of earnings. This meant that he was able to achieve financial security that he would not have otherwise had.
I would also consider receiving a Rising Star award and Legal Hero award from the Devon and Somerset Law Society as a highlight, as it meant a lot to receive recognition for the work I do.
Tell us a little about your life outside of work
Outside of work I try to spend as much time with my family. I love spending time outdoors so try to make the most out of any good weather we get and go on countryside adventures.
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