Having already been recognised this year by the prestigious Legal 500 Dog bite solicitor and Personal Injury expert James McNally has now been shortlisted by DASLS (Devon and Somerset Law Society) in the category Best Solicitor. DASLSLegalAwards2016ShortlistedMotifThe Judging Panel were looking for someone who demonstrated involvement at a responsible level in interesting, challenging or new areas of law; showing a dedication to clients and with involvement in projects with significant impact on the community i.e. the ability to participate in local projects and contribute to local charities and active participation in community life. It was felt that James' work for dog bite victims, particularly child dog bite victims in the specialist field of dog bite and Animals Act law made him eligible for the award. It was noted that James shows a huge amount of understanding, compassion and empathy for his young clients and offers considerable support and assistance to them and their parents (who also find themselves having to cope with some extreme and unfamiliar problems during this time). It was also noted that James’ expertise in the area means that he is often able to secure an early admission of liability and thereby get his clients the treatment they so desperately require without delay.  It was commented upon that James works tirelessly to ensure that his client's have the very best experts on their side and that James has built up a network of contacts including some of the very best plastic surgeons and psychologists in the country and will work alongside them and a client's treating consultants to ensure his clients get exactly what they need. One developing resource often overlooked is the use of cosmetic camouflage make up. Scarring can often take years to mature and dog bite victims must wait to be ready for the next procedure. By using cosmetic camouflage consultants such as Cosmetics expert Rowena Wilson http://rowenawilson.com James has able to ensure that his clients (both male and female) are taught how to use make up effectively to give them some of their confidence back. As well as using specialist barrister's when required he has sourced and instructed specialist experts in canine behaviour and police dog training. James has also read and studied books on canine behaviour himself to give him a better understanding of the issues that may be raised. Of interest to the judges was a project which James has recently started to develop and which he is particularly passionate about which involves working alongside charity Changing Faces www.changingfaces.org. This is a charity for people and families who are living with conditions, marks or scars that affect their appearance. Their work is divided into helping individuals lead full, confident and satisfying lives by giving practical and emotional support to adults, children and their families and also transforming public attitudes towards people with an unusual appearance. Their goal is 'face equality'. James is looking to work with the charity to develop literature and guidance for both parents and children affected by facial scarring. The charity has access to a network of experts and resources. In cases where liability is denied or funding for treatment is in dispute or the waiting lists for CAMHS referrals and the like too long it is hoped that Changing Faces may be able to offer invaluable support. His daily dealings with dog bite victims means that James is all too aware of the importance of the work done by Changing Faces and he is looking to raise awareness of their work. James has written to MPs to raise awareness of the inadequacies of the current Dangerous Dogs Act and the need for tighter controls to ensure responsible dog ownership. One issue which James has become acutely aware of is the huge number of dog owners without adequate insurance. Insurance is not compulsory and dog bite victims rarely qualify for CICA awards. James has made this a key issue and seeks to raise awareness of this in his dealings with the press and on the www.dogbitesolicitors.co.uk website. Noting that the vast majority of parcel deliveries are now made not by the post office (whose employees often have the benefit of CWU membership and who receive SSP during any absence) but by self-employed drivers working for companies such as Hermes and Yodel etc James has developed a special PI package for the vast number of delivery drivers bitten each day . His aim is to work alongside these companies to raise awareness of their workers’ rights and the law. James is also involved in several on-going claims for innocent bystanders who have suffered injury following bites from Police Dogs who have attacked while in pursuit or while being exercised. This is a complex and specialist area of an already niche practice and in which James has already had considerable success. Quite remarkably at the time of writing James has a 100% success rate in respect of claims against insured dog owners. This includes several claims where the client had already instructed solicitors only to be told that prospects of success were too low for the claim to continue. Negative advice which for some had also been confirmed by counsel. James has been able to recover compensation for each and every client who has approached him following such a denial of liability. His reputation seems to be such in this specialised area that he was even recently instructed by the partner of a defendant claims handler whose colleagues had previous dealings with James. James has had some notable successes over the last 12 months. James recovered £25,000 for a woman who was attacked by a dog whilst she was out for a walk.  The client’s legal expenses insurers appointed panel solicitors but they concluded that the claim was without merit.  Indeed, the client approached three different solicitors and one barrister before speaking to James one week prior to limitation. James was also instructed by an elderly woman who was attacked by a neighbours Akita as she walked from her front door to her car and who had already received a denial of liability from insurers. The dog broke the client’s arm resulting in a need for several operations as well as psychological treatment. The client worked as a cleaner and the injury had severely impact on her ability to work. The claim settled for a sum in excess of £50,000. James recovered £25,000 net for a young property lettings agent who had been bitten on the nose and lips by her landlord’s dog. Liability was denied throughout and proceedings were issued. The injury had led to the Client having to change jobs because she could no longer James has fought for compensation for a seven year old boy who was savagely attacked by his friend’s family dog.  Again the case was dropped by the client’s original solicitors (a well known national firm) on the basis that there was no liability.  However, James was able to use his expertise in this area to secure an admission of liability and is currently awaiting court approval of a settlement of £30,000. Negotiations have recently concluded in respect of a claim for a young professional dog walker who suffered horrific injuries to her hand while trying to protect her clients’ dog from an attack. The client’s legal expenses insurers appointed panel solicitors but after six months of trying they were unable to make progress following a firm denial of liability. On receipt of the file James was able to secure an admission following just one single email to the Defendant insurers. The client has undergone numerous operations and been left with significant scarring and psychological problems. She is also unable to continue with her dream job working alongside dogs. But for James it is quite apparent that she would have received little or no compensation at all. The winner of the award will be named on 3rd March 2016. James can be contacted on 0808 139 1601 or via email james.mcnally@sleeblackwell.co.uk  

Dog bite solicitor nominated for Best Solicitor Award
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