Sonehal joined Ward & Rider in December 2013 and became an Associate in October 2019. After having completed his undergraduate law degree at De Montfort University, he studied law at the University of Udine in Italy before embarking on his postgraduate Legal Practice Course at The University of Law in both their Birmingham and London universities (combining this with a full-time career as a Paralegal).
After spending over 3½ years working for an international top 20 law firm (where he progressed from Paralegal to team leader), Sonehal moved to a national law firm before joining us at Ward & Rider. Sonehal was also chosen as one of the ‘faces’ for the Law Society’s nationwide brand campaigns in 2017 and 2018 to help promote the solicitor profession.
Sonehal specialises in personal injury and clinical negligence; with a particular specialism in accidents and illnesses abroad, brain injuries, catastrophic injuries, sports injuries and high-value, complex actions. Sonehal’s expertise also lies in legal costs where his skills place him in a strong position at detailed assessment hearings as well as at costs and case management hearings and application hearings at court.
Sonehal has spent the majority of his legal career helping those who have suffered from personal injury, including assisting those who have had accidents at work, road traffic accidents, claims outside of England & Wales, claims against private companies, and claims against hospitals. His experience includes handling cases involving: acquired brain injuries, fatality, limb loss and amputations, complex fractures (and the development of subsequent osteoarthritis), chronic regional pain syndrome, chronic pain syndrome, somatoform disorder, gastrointestinal illness, CFS/ME, colorectal illness, fibromyalgia, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Before joining Ward & Rider, Sonehal acted on behalf and advised some of the largest insurers, their insured, along with other defence organisations, and major institutions in order to broaden his understanding of personal injury, clinical negligence, and legal costs through experiencing both ends of the legal spectrum. Sonehal believes that his cross-party experience in personal injury and clinical negligence claims has benefited him (and his clients) by allowing him to appreciate and understand how his opponents approach and deal with such claims, which in-turn allows him to navigate claims with a tactical nous that helps him secure the best possible outcomes for his clients.
Through his diverse experience, Sonehal has worked closely with medical experts in numerous fields including: Anaesthesia, Microbiology, Ophthalmology, Orthotics, Dermatology, Neurology, Neuropsychology, Gynaecology, Podiatry, Pain Medicine, Coloproctology, Rheumatology, Cardiology, Orthopaedics, Psychiatry and Psychology, Care, and Health and Hygiene. Sonehal’s foreign jurisdictional expertise means that he also benefits from close links with foreign lawyers in various countries including, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, United States of America, Canada, and Dominican Republic.
Sonehal says: “I consider myself very lucky to have spent the majority of my career having helped so many genuinely incredible people. All of my clients have been through extremely difficult situations and they are a real inspiration to me. The most rewarding parts of my job are getting to know my clients, achieving the best possible results for them, and playing my part in helping them get their lives back on track.”
Sonehal always offers a personal service to his clients and considers offering simple advice in a calm and sympathetic manner as important traits for any lawyer. Sonehal says: “I would like to think I am a formidable opponent with an eye for detail. I never stop fighting for my clients and rightly so, when so many of them suffer from life-changing injuries. Having been born and bred in Coventry, working with so many talented lawyers at a client friendly and forward-thinking law firm like Ward & Rider gives me an immense feeling of pride that I have never experienced elsewhere.”
Outside of work, Sonehal enjoys running, going to the gym, and rock climbing. He also part of De Montfort University’s Employability Mentoring scheme where he participates in group and on-on-one mentoring sessions with its students.
Further notable cases
- £75,000 for a client who was involved in a road traffic accident with an uninsured driver. The claim proceeded against the Motor Insurers’ Bureau. The client was a delivery driver at the time of the accident, but changed his career to that of a bus driver as a result of the accident. The client relied on expert medical evidence from a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon who confirmed that the client suffered a soft-tissue injury to the cervical spine (‘WAD type II’), a soft-tissue injury to the lumbar spine, and a (posterior horn) tear of the medial meniscus and a medial ligament sprain to the left knee. The Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon was of the opinion that although the client had a previous history of neck and lower back pain, he was sufficiently asymptomatic immediately prior to the accident to perform a manually intensive job as a delivery driver. The settlement figure most notably included an award for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, loss of congenial employment, past and future loss of earnings, and past and future care and assistance.
- £75,000 for a client (62 years old at the time of the accident) who was struck from behind by a forklift truck and dragged some distance, approximately 4 – 5 yards, by the fork lift truck. As a result of the accident, he suffered soft-tissue injuries to his left ankle and foot, left shoulder, lower back, and both knees. The client relied on expert medical evidence from a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and the Defendant instructed a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon of their own; both experts came to opposing views on what injuries were accident related. The Defendant also attempted to argue that the client’s claim was fundamentally dishonest. Settlement was achieved after formal legal proceedings were issued, but before trial and the claim included awards for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, loss of congenial employment, past and future loss of earnings, and past and future care and assistance.
- A figure of circa £70,000 for a client who suffered a triangle fibrocartilage complex tear to his left wrist and a soft-tissue injury to his left elbow; the latter of which resolved after a number of steroid and local anaesthetic injections were administered. The client underwent two wrist arthroscopies in order to reduce his symptoms but both of these operations were unsuccessful and the pain continued. There was a conflict of opinion regarding the long-term prognosis between the Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon’s instructed by both sides. The client also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and an impairment in his family and social life for some 4 years after the accident and continued to suffer from mood disturbance. The matter was settled at a Joint Settlement Meeting.
- A combined total of £62,250 for a family of four who suffered injuries following a road traffic accident whilst on holiday in Spain. Expert evidence was required from a Spanish lawyer who assisted in valuing the claims in accordance with the Spanish assessment of damages due to the applicability of Spanish jurisdiction in relation to damages.
- £60,000 for a client who suffered a fractured left elbow with permanent on-going symptoms and psychological symptoms after slipping on a pool of water within the Defendant’s restaurant. The claim settled two days before trial after both parties produced various reports from their respective Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons and Consultant Psychiatrists. The claim was unusual in two aspects: (i) at the time of the accident, the client had not long graduated from University where he obtained a degree in Film Production and Technology and was hoping to find employment as a Videographer within an in-house production company however, the accident led to him abandoning such a career and led to him moving to Japan where he found employment as an Assistant Language Teacher at a higher initial salary than he would have obtained as a Videographer; and (ii) as the client had emigrated to Japan, he would have needed to give evidence at trial via video conferencing. The Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeons accepted that the client suffered a fracture of the capitellum in his left elbow. The experts agree that the capitellum “is a critical part of the functioning of the elbow joint” and that the minor malposition of the fracture has led to the “development of early arthritis with limited movement and limited functioning.” Both experts also agreed that the client’s decision to alter his career was “wise” and that he was unlikely to ever be in a position to perform heavy work again, which a Videographer would typically be required to do. Both experts also agreed that the early onset of arthritis was likely to develop and necessitate a need for further surgical intervention in approximately 15-20 years’ time. Both experts also agreed that future surgical intervention would, in the first instance, be conservative and if that proved unsuccessful, for which they said there was a 50% chance, the client would require further surgery; in the form of an excision of the radial head of the elbow. Both experts also agreed that even with further surgical intervention, the client would never regain “perfect comfort and function” in his left elbow. The Psychiatric experts agreed that the client suffered a recognisable psychiatric disorder as a result of the accident, with the only material difference in opinion between the experts relating to the client’s need for treatment. The client argued that the loss of his career as a Videographer allowed him to claim an award for ‘Loss of Congenial Employment’. The Defendant argued that such awards were more appropriate for “vocational employment situations”, which the client argued was an outdated approach that was not supported by case law. Furthermore, the client argued that the Defendant’s argument that such an award should be withheld purely because the client had not established a career in his chosen profession was both limited and flawed. The client emphasised his young age and the fact that much of his young adult life was geared towards working as a Videographer, including his degree, which the Orthopaedic experts agreed was not a career that he would ever be in a position to pursue as a result of the accident. With respect to the client’s claim for future loss of earnings, the Defendant put forward five key points of contention, namely: (i) the client had never worked as a videographer and found it difficult to secure such employment post-graduation; (ii) the client had no evidence to confirm that he would have secured a career as a videographer; (iii) the client’s witness was not an accredited expert in the field of videography or creative design; (iv) a Blamire award or a Smith v Manchester award was the most appropriate way of remunerating this aspect of the claim; and (v) the client was in a stable and secure career in Japan. The client advanced a claim to be compensated for the difference between his probable career earnings but for the accident and his probable actual earnings on a multiplier/multiplicand claim, which he argued was now a well-established method for calculating such losses. In addressing the five points of contention from the Defendant, the client countered with the following: (i) the client accepted that he did indeed find it difficult to secure employment as a Videographer post-graduation, however the Defendant was choosing to ignore the fact that the client was not put off by this. His desire to obtain a career as a Videographer led him to focus on freelance work, which he received little to no remuneration for. The fact that he found the prospect of obtaining employment post-graduation difficult was by no means a reasonable way for the Defendant to argue that he would never have managed to obtain employment as a Videographer in the absence of the accident. The client sought to accentuate the likelihood that the court would be sympathetic to the fact that the accident robbed the client of his desired career at the very early stages of his career arc and it should not be ignored that his degree, his freelance work, and his continued attempts to establish some ongoing link with Videography even at the approach to trial added solid weight to supporting his claim for loss of earnings; (ii) the Defendant’s argument that the client had not provided any evidence to confirm that he would have secured a career as a Videographer was plainly confusing as the client was 22 years old at the time of the accident and would have no means of providing any evidence to support his intended career aside from demonstrating a desire to pursue such a career, which his degree would establish; (iii) the client’s witness was indeed not an accredited expert; however, the client argued that this itself would not lead the court to place no weight to his evidence. The client argued that the evidence from his witness, who was an individual who worked as an in-house Videographer, was perfectly sensible and relevant to supporting his claim for future loss of earnings; (iv) a Blamire award was evidently not necessary considering an achievable calculation of loss was possible. A Smith v Manchester claim was possible; however, it would grossly under compensate the client for what was a claim that needed to reflect the almost 41 year period remaining of the client’s working life. The client emphasised that he had mitigated his loss of earnings claim by seeking alternative employment at a very early opportunity post-accident and that as seeking alternative employment meant pursuing an alternative career, it was likely that the court would commend the client for his maturity and strength in doing so, and thus be sympathetic towards his claim for loss of earnings; and (v) where the Defendant chose to dispute his claim for loss of earnings, the client chose to support his claim by arguing that his current career was unlikely to reflect in any way towards reducing his entitlement to a claim for loss of earnings, rather that it would work in his favour. The client argued that the court would likely commend him for doing his utmost to find work that he was capable of performing to at least some level; as well as concentrating his efforts to securing higher earnings within his current career as an Assistant Language Teacher to bridge the financial gap between his probable career earnings but for the accident and his probable actual earnings.
- £60,000 for a client who was involved a high-speed road traffic accident. Liability was admitted at an early stage, but the claim for damages proved contentious and required formal legal proceedings to be issued against the Defendant. The client obtained expert medical evidence from: a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon; a Consultant Psychiatrist; and a Consultant Neurosurgeon. According to the client’s expert medical evidence, he suffered a multitude of injuries as a result of the accident, including: soft-tissue injuries to the neck and back (both with permanent symptoms); a soft-tissue injury to left shoulder (leading to the onset of osteoarthritis, which would ultimately require the client to undergo a shoulder replacement); a mild traumatic brain injury; and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The client, who was 30 years old at the time of the accident, was a self-employed barber, who understandably required the use of both arms for his career. The Defendant attempted to argue that the client’s shoulder problems were not entirely accident related. However, after intense settlement negotiations, settlement was achieved at almost double the sum that the Defendant initially offered.
- £50,000 for a client who slipped in an un-gritted section of the Defendant’s premises where expert evidence from a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon confirmed that the client had suffered a traumatic full thickness tear of the rotator cuff in his right shoulder, which aggravated a pre-existing injury and accelerated the symptoms by approximately five years. The award most notably comprised a 5 year period of loss of earnings and care and assistance.
- £50,000 for a client whose tonsillectomy had to be aborted mid-operation as a result of the client regurgitating following induction. As a result, he suffered difficulty breathing, chest pains, and repeated throat infections. It was alleged that the Hospital performing the operation failed, as a result of the client’s previous medical history and risk factors, to consider and/or to implement an anaesthetic technique to minimise the risk of the client regurgitating and/or aspirating material during the anaesthetic procedure. Although the client recovered well from his various physical complications post-surgery, he developed profound psychiatric injuries, which included experiencing post-traumatic symptoms, such as, nightmares and flashbacks, waking in the night, and lashing out in his sleep. He was subsequently diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Expert medical evidence was obtained from a Consultant Respiratory Physician, a Clinical Psychiatrist, and a Consultant in Anaesthesia, Critical Care and Acute Pain Management. The claim was successfully settled post-litigation, but before trial.
- Over £45,000 for a client whose claim settled at trial. The client, who was a bus driver, suffered a crushing injury to his right shoulder (with ongoing symptoms, which later required him to undergo a subacromial decompression operation) and psychological trauma after he was pinned between two buses at his employer’s deport. Liability was admitted by the Defendant (the client’s employer), but the cause of the client’s injuries and the amount of damages that he should be awarded was fiercely contested. The Defendant also argued that the client’s own negligence contributed to the accident and his resultant injuries. Although various offers of settlement were presented by both sides before trial, an agreement was never reached. The client’s final offer before trial was £42,000, whilst the Defendant’s final offer was £30,000. The client relied on expert medical evidence was obtained from a Consultant Shoulder, Elbow and Hand Surgeon and a Chartered Clinical Psychologist and the Defendant relied on its own expert medical evidence from a Consultant Psychiatrist and a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon. At trial, HHJ Rawlings heard oral evidence from both Orthopaedic experts. A particular feature of the case was that the client’s medical records were (initially) absent of any entries in relation to the shoulder injury, which the Defendant’s Orthopaedic expert argued, in the first instance, meant that the ongoing shoulder symptoms that the client complained of were not accident related. In the second instance, the Defendant’s Orthopaedic expert was of the view that the accident brought forward the shoulder symptoms that he would otherwise have suffered in any event, regardless of the accident, by “a relatively short period of time, such as five years”. Conversely, the client’s Orthopaedic expert, a shoulder specialist, came to the view that, on the balance of probabilities, given the lack of any evidence of previous shoulder pain, it was the accident that caused the client’s shoulder injury and his ongoing symptoms. Furthermore, the Defendant sought to argue that the client’s alleged ongoing shoulder symptoms were inconsistent with his hobbies, such as, playing cricket and cycling. Prior to trial, Sonehal and the client’s Barrister held several important conferences with the client’s Orthopaedic expert in order to understand the mechanism of the client’s shoulder injury (to the AC joint) and its likely functional impact, which proved to play a critical feature in achieving success at trial. Under cross-examination, the client was subjected to intense scrutiny from the Defendant’s barrister regarding his ongoing shoulder symptoms, his hobbies, and his reasons for not (initially) attending his GP regarding his shoulder symptoms. In giving judgment, HHJ Rawlings commented that he preferred the evidence of the client’s Orthopaedic expert (and in particular his explanation of the mechanism of the AC joint and the functional impact that an injury to the AC joint will have) and accepted the client’s reasons for not (initially) seeking to attend his GP for his ongoing shoulder symptoms. HHJ Rawlings awarded the client, just over £45,000 (and thus beating his final offer to the Defendant in the sum of £42,000), which comprised an award for his ongoing and permanent shoulder injury, his psychological injury, past loss of earnings, past medical treatment, past travelling expenses, and past and future care and assistance.
- £45,000 for a client who suffered soft-tissue injuries to her neck with pain radiating over the shoulders and arms (with permanent minor ongoing symptoms), as well as pain in the lower back radiating down the outer aspects of the thighs towards the knees following a road traffic accident. Although liability was admitted fairly swiftly, the claim for damages proved particularly contentious and required formal legal proceedings to be issued. The client relied on expert medical evidence from a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon and the Defendant instructed their own Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon whose opinion was that the client’s injuries were not accident related. The opinion of the Defendant’s Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon was dissected and scrutinised heavily, which led to settlement at a sum that encompassed an award for the client to purchase special equipment to help her manage her ongoing symptoms both at home and at work.
- £45,000 for a client who suffered a patella dislocation of the left knee and a fracture of lateral tibial plateau of the left knee following a road traffic accident, where the award also accounted for the cost of the client likely requiring a total knee replacement around 10 years post-accident.
- £40,000 for a client who was involved in a road traffic accident and suffered lower back symptoms. The client owned his own taxi company, which was resultantly affected by his accident related injuries, particularly by his need to incur increased expenditures, in particular: the need to hire other drivers to take over from the driving that he himself would have done but for his injuries; to pay existing staff members to provide additional assistance with the administrative work of the business; and using existing drivers to drive him to and from work while he was unable to drive. The settlement figure included an award for pan, suffering and loss of amenity, past loss of earnings, past care and assistance, and future medical treatment.
- £40,000 for a client who was knocked off her bicycle by a car. The client relied on expert medical evidence from a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, a Clinical Psychologist, and a Consultant Neurologist. As a result of the accident, it was argued that the client suffered soft-tissue injuries to the cervical spine and right wrist; both of which were deemed to be permanent. She also suffered psychological injuries and headaches; both of which were likely resolve following treatment. The matter was eventually settled after formal legal proceedings were issued with the claim most notably encompassing provisions for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, past and future loss of earnings, past and future special equipment, and future medical treatment.
- £40,000 for a client who suffered injuries whilst aboard a bus after she was thrown from her seat after the bus driver, without notice or warning, applied the brakes suddenly and sharply to avoid colliding with a vehicle in front. Although liability was admitted, the claim only settled shortly before trial as the Defendant refused to increase on their initial offer of settlement. The client relied on expert medical evidence from a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, a Consultant Otolaryngologist, and a Clinical Psychologist. The Defendant obtained its own expert medical evidence from a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon. The Orthopaedic experts disagreed on the cause of the client’s ongoing shoulder pain with the client’s expert arguing the cause of the pain related to the accident, whilst the Defendant’s expert argued that the pain was constitutional and nothing over and above what a normal woman of the client’s age would suffer. Treatment, in the form of a steroid injection was administered to the client’s shoulder, the results of which ultimately undermined the opinion of the Defendant’s expert, which proved a catalyst in achieving settlement at almost twice the Defendant’s initial offer (some 26 months earlier).
- £40,000 for a client who slipped over a pool of water at his place of work, which required internal fixation of the right tibia and right fibula. Expert evidence was obtained from a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Consultant Podiatrist and Clinical Psychologist that assisted in supporting claims for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, loss of congenial employment, past and future loss of earnings, past and future care and assistance, and future medical treatment and custom orthotics.
- £38,000 for a client who suffered a crushing injury to his fingers whilst at work. Liability was denied throughout the claim and settlement was only achieved after formal legal proceedings were issued when discrepancies in the Defendant’s defence to the claim were uncovered upon intense scrutiny of the documentation that they had served to support their denial of liability.
- £37,030 for a client who slipped in a supermarket and suffered multiple soft-tissue injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- £33,000 for a client who was involved in a road traffic accident involving permanent soft-tissue injuries that incorporated an award for future care and future loss of earnings.
Cases of note for Sonehal over the last decade include the following:-
- £650,000 for a client who suffered a multitude of injuries, including soft-tissue injuries to her neck and back regions as well as an exacerbation of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and ME, arising from a road traffic accident. The accident led to a pronounced physical deterioration in the client’s pre-existing conditions due to the permanent worsening of her pain, both from a quantitative and qualitative aspect, which in turn led to psychological and depressive symptoms. Expert medical evidence was obtained from a number of medical experts, including: a Consultant Rheumatologist, a Consultant in Pain Medicine, a Consultant Psychiatrist, a Consultant Neuropsychologist, a Care Consultant, a Consultant Neurologist and, a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon. The claim was managed alongside one of the United Kingdom’s leading Queen’s Counsel and the settlement was achieved via a mediation meeting approximately 3 months before the matter was listed for trial.
- £185,000 for a client who fractured 4 of the metatarsal bones in his right foot. The client was diagnosed with Neuropathic pain secondary to injury to the superficial peroneal nerve by a Pain Expert. The client suffered discomfort, scarring, loss of sensation and restricted range of movement in his foot and the symptoms were expected to be permanent. A Clinical Psychologist also confirmed that the client suffered psychological symptoms stemming from his physical injuries and was diagnosed with an Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood. Damages comprised of pain, suffering and loss of amenity, past and future loss of earnings, past and future pension loss, past care and assistance, an award being deemed disadvantaged on the open labour market and an award for the cost of purchasing future orthotics as recommend by a Consultant Orthotist.
- £130,000 for a client who suffered a Type 1 sprain of the acromio-clavicular joint in her shoulder during the course of her employment. The settlement figure most notably incorporated an award for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, loss of congenial employment, past and future loss of earnings, past and future care and assistance, pension loss and an award being deemed disadvantaged on the open labour market. The claim required expert evidence from a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Clinical Psychologist and a Nursing and Care Consultant.