They hold the “key” to whether that person can either return to the life they enjoyed before the incident or, if that is not possible, to ensure that they have an enjoyable and fulfilling life in the future.
A case manager instructs, co-ordinates, and monitors the injured person’s rehabilitation team which can include medics, therapists and support workers. The case manager also supports the legal team.
They can attend conferences, they implement recommendations made by the medico-legal experts, and they flag issues with the legal team that the injured person or a family member has raised with them.
A good case manager is one who meets the injured person frequently. It is impossible to build a strong rapport and to do the case management role effectively by e-mailing the injured person periodically.
There have been occasions when clients have said to me that they have no idea what the case manager does apart from said e-mails from time-to-time. That is ineffective.
In my view, a good case manager is someone who is willing to challenge the injured person to maximise their potential; they are willing to have difficult conversations; they can express disagreement in a calm, measured and reasoned way; they can take on board sensible suggestions; they are adaptable, proactive and flexible; they accept that something is not working quickly if it is not working and try something else.
We cannot underestimate the importance of having clearly defined goals which are worked towards.
The impact that the Judgment in the case of Loughlin – v – Singh  EWHC 1641 (QB) had in the catastrophic injury “world” was significant.
Claimant lawyers continue to be concerned about facing deductions from past losses (putting aside whether Loughlin was the right decision in law).
A good case manager is someone who has knowledge and experience of the litigation process and takes an interest in it. They are proactive. They want to know what is “around the corner”.
If there are challenges, they seek to resolve them quickly. They have a Plan A, B and C. You can be the best and most experienced clinician in the country but if you do not have an awareness of the litigation environment that you are working in, you are likely to face difficulties.
It is analogous to a solicitor dealing in lower value cases trying to work on catastrophic injury cases or a medico-legal expert “giving it a go” on a high value and complex case despite having no experience.
The best case managers I have worked with are those that are willing to pick up the phone regularly; talk through the issues; ensure that there is agreement on the best way forward; they are happy to prioritise the most urgent input and then introduce other therapies or treatment at a later date.
They are respectful and have appreciation of the solicitors’ role, the injured person’s wishes, their clinical duties, and the dynamics that arise with families.
David Withers is a partner at Irwin Mitchell LLP, leading a team specialising in neuro-trauma and other serious injuries such as amputations or significant poly-trauma. He sits on the National Serious Injury Team’s Technical Committee and advises colleagues across the country on funding and costs issues. He is a senior litigator and brain injury specialist accredited by APIL.