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The 3rd edition of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers’ Guide to Catastrophic Injury Claims is easy to read, insightful, and an absolute must-have text for personal injury practitioners acting for claimants who have sustained injuries of the utmost severity.
The previous (2nd) edition of the book was written in 2013, so there are plenty of reasons to update to the newer version, especially because there are many more chapters from medico-legal and other experts in their specialist fields than in the 2nd edition.
As well as chapters one would expect to see concerning spinal cord, brain and amputation injury claims, there are new chapters on assistive technology (by Mike Gomm), pain management (by Raj Munglani), statutory funding (by Sue Peters), capacity & the Court of Protection (by Ian Potter and Jane Netting from Wrigleys), and life expectancy (by Dr John Pollock).
Many of the other chapters have been comprehensively updated. The previous edition included a chapter on adult neuro-radiology, which in the new edition is updated to a fascinating and well-illustrated chapter on neuro-imaging for traumatic brain injury by Drs Emer MacSweeney and Steve Allder. Neuro-imaging is in such an exciting period of development at the moment, and the chapter explores many of the latest techniques and research, as well as discussing the difficulties with mild brain injuries where neuro-imaging is inconclusive.
Brian Gardner’s passing is a huge loss, and Jan Gawronski has done a great job stepping in to update the spinal cord injury chapter from the previous editions. More than ever, it is essential reading for any spinal cord injury medicolegal expert wanting to follow in Brian’s footsteps, and can be usefully read in conjunction with the new life expectancy chapter, which is pleasantly accessible.
The complexities of running these types of cases are discussed in a clear and comprehensive style by the legal authors, and the chapters on future losses and quantum are excellent. There is also a detailed review of the issues to be determined later this year by the Court of Appeal in Swift v Carpenter. To this end it is perhaps appropriate that Mrs Justice Lambert has written a foreword. It includes this glowing endorsement: ‘With this book, the reader has access to a real trove of information and practical guidance from highly respected experts in the field. It is readable, insightful and comprehensive. It is essential reading for all legal practitioners in the field of catastrophic injury: counsel, solicitors and legal executives.’
The range of leading experts who have contributed chapters is astonishing. Where else can you learn from the expertise of the likes of Maggie Sargent, Richard Nieveen and Sue Peters all under one roof, to name but a few of the well-known contributors?
There is a fine line though as to how many experts should contribute to a text like this, and a balance to be struck (with legal text books in particular) between page numbers and fixing a reasonable purchase price, but my own view is that if (or when) there’s a 4th edition, I hope the authors will consider additional contributions in the fields of Speech and Language Therapy, accommodation and Neuro OT.
Most practitioners will want to dip in and out of the book from time to time, and the chapters are easy to navigate for this purpose. I thought previous editions had a disappointingly brief index, which rather hampered those wanting to look something up with immoderate enthusiasm, so it is pleasing to note the third edition has a much more user-friendly index: essential for time-poor dippers.
It is fitting that Stuart McKechnie QC has written a moving tribute to the legendary Brian Gardner MBE in his foreword, who he rightly describes as ‘brilliant’. Brian’s passing inevitably hangs over the book, and the spinal cord injury chapter is dedicated to him. The world of the catastrophically spinal cord injured has been made so much better by his endeavours, both in a clinical and medicolegal sense. As Stuart says: ‘He will be sorely missed.’
Lambert J hits the nail of the head: ‘This book should be on the shelf of all those involved in catastrophic personal injury litigation.’ I would add that this includes medicolegal experts, and especially those new to report writing, who should be encouraged to read it before ever putting pen to paper. There are only a small handful of books that all catastrophic injury practitioners should consult from time to time, and the APIL Guide to Catastrophic Injury Claims certainly qualifies for that cohort.
Reviewer: Ben Posford, partner & head of catastrophic injury, Osbornes Law (www.osborneslaw.com).
This review was first published in the New Law Journal on 19 February 2020.
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