Industry news roundup: week ended 27th August 2012:
It seems like it just doesn’t pay to be a copper today, considering how if you’re not causing road traffic accidents, you’re ending up costing your local authority thousands in personal injury compensation awards for work accident claims.
Maybe it’s just our perception, but it seems like you couldn’t swing a cat without encountering a news story regarding the police as either being involved in some sort of RTA where a citizen ends up rather injured or police officers ending up suffering personal injury at work themselves. We know that it’s a tough, sometimes dangerous line of work – and we’re grateful for everything those boys in blue due to keep us safe – but sometimes it’s as if they’re their own worst enemies!
Last week saw a news story coming to light about how the North Wales Police Force inadvertently nearly cripple an elderly pensioner by accident. A ninety year old woman had been crossing the street when she was hit by a police car, sending her to hospital for a seven month long hospital stay; this isn’t just a case of a few cuts and scrapes that you can just slap a sticking plaster on and send the patient home – there were broken legs, arms, and elbows, and medical staff say it’s dodgy whether the poor woman will be able to walk properly.
The driver of the police car may have been cleared of reckless driving by a local Magistrates’ Court, but that hasn’t stopped the pensioner from making an accident claim against North Wales Police, and a police spokesperson refused to comment on the case, as it was still pending. Of course, police forces across the UK have more to worry about than just that, as it seems like when law enforcement officers aren’t hitting little old ladies, they’re doing damage to one another!
In fact, another news report emerged that Lancashire Police Force has been a hotbed of activity when it came to personal injury at work over the last five years. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 4,000 injuries were reported from 2007, some of them self-inflicted while others being the result of accidents caused by colleagues.
2011’s injury figures in Lancashire were up over 2010’s, according to a recent Freedom of Information request, but a police force spokesman was quick to point out that the number of accidents was actually trending down overall. Not much comfort for someone laid up in hospital while they’re recovering from a possibly life-threatening injury, but at least they’re not off running over pensioners.
While sometimes police officers are injured in the line of duty, at other times regular citizens end up suffering injuries at their hands, much as Beryl Evans suffered recently after the grandmother of two was struck by police car.
Mrs Evans, a ninety one year old pensioner, has decided to seek personal injury compensation for the incident, which saw hospitalised for seven long months after she was struck by a police vehicle as she tried to cross the road. The grandmum sustained a broken elbow, arm, and leg, and nearly crippled her; according to her personal injury claims, there is a good chance that she may not be able to walk again.
How does a police officer just up and smash into a ninety one year old woman? It’s not like pensioners just dart across the street like a stray cat, and when a pedestrian is struck by a vehicle, it’s usually a case of careless driving on the part of the driver, but a Dolgellau Magistrates’ Court hearing cleared the driver of reckless driving.
However, the injured woman and her family have instead made a civil car accident claim against the police. Mrs Evans’ daughter, Yvonne, was righteously angry in a statement, remarking how her mother had been ‘robbed’ of her her independence – and she has a point, considering how one of Mrs Evans’ favourite pastimes was taking regular walks in an effort to remain fit.
North Wales Police Force has been tight-lipped as always. With a matter currently ongoing, it would be inappropriate to comment on the case, a spokesman said.
Being a law enforcement official can be a dangerous job sometimes: injured police officers from Lancashire have claimed thousands in damages after making work accident claims.
The Lancashire Police Force has been suffering from high volumes of personal injury at work over the last five years, as it was recently revealed in a Freedom of Information request that there were 4,000 police personnel injured in the line of duty. Two of these Lancashire police officers were injured so severely that their lives were even in danger, the documents revealed.
Luckily, not all the injuries were quite that severe; in fact a good number of them were complete accidents. One officer became injured after falling from their bicycle seat, earning a total of £1,500 in personal injury compensation, while another saw an officer injured when a colleague inadvertently threw a bike at him, injuring him enough to warrant a £4,620 compensation award.
It may sound frivolous, but it’s not as if there’s some concerted effort on the part of police officers in Lancashire to injure themselves in order to get a few extra quid. In fact, injury figures are overall in decline, even if last year’s figures were higher than 2010’s, indicating that most police personnel are actually quite careful due to their training and experience.
Still, accidents happen, which is why accident claims are made. If even professional law enforcement officers sometimes get embroiled in incidents at work that leave someone injured inadvertently, it’s no wonder that personal injury at work occurs in other employment sectors – especially the construction sector, due to the sometimes dangerous nature of the work.
Judges say that personal injury compensation awards will be increasing by 10 per cent from 2013 in part of an effort to make it less expensive for defendants to lose personal injury claims.
At first blush this seems mad – why raise the damages awards for claimants as a way to reduce costs to insurers or institutions like the NHS? Well, it’s just one side of the coin; the other side will be an end to the custom of having losing defendants paying the ‘success fees’ and legal costs for the winning side’s personal injury solicitors.
Thanks to the new Legal Aid Act that was signed into law this year, this practice comes to an end on 1 April of next year. Now winning claimants will pay their own lawyers’ legal fees out of their compensation awards, which is why the damages awards are being increased by 10 per cent in order to keep up with the change.
The practice could lead to millions being saved in the car insurance industry, as successful car accident claims can generate massive legal costs in addition to any compensation payment directly awarded to a claimant. Medical negligence cases are likely to become less expensive overall as well, as the NHS was in the same rapidly-sinking boat that insurers were prior to the law.
The new change will also lead to fewer spurious claims being brought in the UK, as claimants now no longer claim the entirety of their award on a successful claim and lawyers will not be able to charge exorbitant legal costs – success fees are also capped at 25 per cent of the usual costs, unlike the current 100 per cent fees charged to losing defendants now.