Former rugby union player, Jason Oakes, has received an undisclosed sum in compensation after leading commercial law firm Muckle LLP took on his case.
Oakes suffered an Achilles injury whilst playing for Newcastle Falcons in 2008, which ended his career. He had personal accident and sickness insurance to protect him in the event of a career ending injury.
However, his claim was rejected by his insurers. A report written by the insurers’ doctor said Jason’s injury had been caused by a pre-existing degenerative condition, making his claim invalid. Jason tried to contest that finding, spending months compiling evidence to try to get the decision reversed, to no avail.
Neville Takiar, litigation solicitor in Muckle LLP’s Sports Team explained: “When Jason came to us he had virtually given up hope of receiving any compensation.
“In order to challenge the insurer’s decision, we needed to assess a great deal of complex medical information and evidence. It was thanks to the help of former Falcons’ doctor, Dr Graeme Wilkes, who is now Clinical Lead and Sports & Exercise Medicine Consultant at Connect Physical Health, that we were able to understand Jason’s Achilles injury.
“We found that the medical evidence the insurance company had compiled which referred to the injury as a degenerative, pre-existing condition was unsustainable. This was a difficult case because we had to blend our legal knowledge with an understanding of a highly complex and contentious area of sports science. In the end, despite fierce resistance, Jason’s insurers had to back down.
“Once they finally agreed to honour his claim, we also made sure they covered his legal costs and paid him an appropriate level of interest. I’m really happy for Jason – he deserves it, a lot of people would have given up years ago.
Jason, who now runs a successful energy services company, Oakes Energy Services Ltd, specialising in highly efficient renewable energy solutions, said he was very pleased with the way the case had been handled by Neville and the team at Muckle LLP.
He said: “This injury put an end to my career – I was only 29 at the time. I had taken out this insurance policy in good faith so it wasn’t right when they didn’t pay out. I’m lucky because I had trained as a gas engineer before I became a professional rugby player, so at least I could set up my company. But a lot of the lads in rugby don’t have anything to fall back on. They rely on these insurance policies.
“It had been a couple of years or more, I’d spent hours and hours compiling evidence to try to fight this and I realised I wasn’t getting anywhere on my own. It was stressful – I could have lost my house but the team at Muckle handled everything for me. I know Neville spent a lot of time researching the medical side with Dr Graeme Wilkes before he tackled the insurers. He was brilliant. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Muckle’s Sports Team to other professionals. They were unbelievable.”
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