Like most professions, the Covid pandemic has created a new, and arguably improved, way of working when it comes to the writing of expert witness accommodation reports for litigation purposes. In this article, France + Associate’s Managing Director, Jonathan France talks about the logistics and how some changes to the process could be here to stay.
“Adapting” has become a bit of buzz word for the pandemic, and as disability architects, we don’t just mean “adapting” a person’s home! The team at France + Associates have had to take a fresh and sometimes imaginative approach to preparing accommodation reports for the use by injury solicitors in clinical negligence and personal injury claims.
Fortunately, there is now a substantial amount of information about a home online. Whether that’s via historic estate agent particulars of when it was last on the market planning applications or if the property is owned by a professional landlord organisation, like a housing association, via a copy of their stock property floor plans.
Having access to this sort of information online has helped massively to enable France + Associates to continue preparing accommodations reports ‘remotely’ during the lockdown phases of the pandemic.
“The main criteria considered for the suitability of a home is the size of the existing property and the plot around the home, so other desktop research tools such as OS maps (Ordnance Survey maps) can be used as well” explains Jonathan. “Coupled with that, Claimants have been asked to send us photographs that highlight issues such as step level differences, narrow doors and passageways and furniture intruding into access routes.”
Throughout lockdown France + Associates have been unable to visit the property but, in some cases, have viewed it externally where necessary. Client interviews have been conducted over the phone, and often followed by video calls that include a ‘virtual’ tour of the property.
All of this has enabled accommodation reports to be completed remotely, with a “more than likely” view taken on its suitability. In all cases where accommodation claims that have been assessed remotely, a subsequent property visit at the Claimant’s home has confirmed the opinion stated within the ‘remote’ Accommodation report.
In some cases, the claim has now settled, starting off with a ‘remote’ desktop Accommodation Report in the early part of 2020, followed by a visit once restrictions have eased to finalise the report with a view to exchange evidence – all within the space of the 12 months of the pandemic. This has brought a confidence to the change of process in assessment, finalisation and use of the reports.
“In cases where a physical visit has been necessary and the claimant doesn’t live in our immediate vicinity, we’ve made good use of our network of agents throughout the country to get round the travel ban” says Jonathan. “This has allowed urgent cases to be finalised where an exchange of evidence has been required. In other cases, where time has not been an issue, we’ve been able to defer visits until a relaxation of the rules with visits booked in and reports completed as quickly as possible.”
And what about the cost?
“In all instances, the cost of writing and preparing the report information has not increased due to the phasing of visiting the properties. The quality and information of the report has remained of the same high standards as before the pandemic.”
For more information on Accommodation Reports please contact us on 01484 960560 | email@example.com.
For more information, contact us on
01484 960560 or email us +
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