Working with your hands is dangerous nowadays

Industry news roundup: week ended 30 Sept 2013:

No one ever said that it would be busy earning a living with your hands, but it’s downright dangerous to your health as well!

Personal injury at work is a major issue when it comes to nearly every form of employment, but manual labourers and craftsmen bear the brunt of the danger. It’s all too common to hear about hellish injuries suffered by employees that prompt them to make work accident claims – like the injury that Patrick Meek suffered, sending him on a nightmarish odyssey that only recently was resolved.

The 60 year old Cinderford native, employed as a joiner, lost his finger in a work accident when the nail he fired from the nail gun he was using to create pallets several years ago ricocheted upon hitting a wood knot, impaling his index finger and sending him to hospital. Mr Meek ended up suffering complications three months afterwards, and while doctors worked feverishly to remedy the issue, he ultimately lost the finger – ending his career as a joiner.

Mr Meeks sought legal advice and enlisted the aid of a talented team of personal injury solicitors who brought him some closure. While his employer initially refused to accept liability for the incident, after a court battle the company has since changed its tune, awarding the injured man some well-deserved personal injury compensation.

As terrible as Mr Meeks’ story is, it could have been much worse – luckily he wasn’t mortally wounded. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for farm workers in Northern Ireland, as the Health and Safety Executive revealed that farm accidents in NI are hands-down the most dangerously fatal.

There were some 19 fatalities due to industrial accidents in 2012, the HSE reported recently. Out of those 19, 11 of them were farming accidents. The trend seems to be growing as well, considering how the year before, where there were 18 workplace fatalities – nine of which came from the farming industry.

For what it’s worth, farm owners in Northern Ireland obviously have to institute better working conditions in their facilities. 20 people have lost their lives in two years – that’s absolutely horrid! What’s wrong with these people that they can’t make farming a safer line of work for their employees? If nothing else, think of the potential savings when it comes to legal fees – defending a personal injury claim brought against you isn’t exactly a cheap proposition, you know!

Whiplash claims stopped dead in their tracks here and abroad

Industry news roundup: week ended 23 Sept 2013:

One of the biggest problems the personal injury compensation industry right now is the prevalence of spurious whiplash claims – but that seems to be changing.

As a culture we seem to be getting a bit more clever in rooting out fraudulent accident claims, especially when it comes to whiplash. In fact one wholesaler from Leeds has been able to win his legal battle in refusing to pay out on not one but two rather suspicious whiplash claims recently.

The furore all began when one of the lorry drivers for Morris and Son (Leeds) Ltd accidentally pranged a parked vehicle when he came around a corner in Harehills. There was no one actually in the car at the time, according to the driver, and in fact the collision was so low-speed that it would have barely been able to cause even minimal damage to occupants if there had been any inside the car he struck – and according to the driver, he couldn’t remember seeing anyone in the car he inadvertently struck.

Of course – and here it comes, did you expect otherwise – the owner of the car, who had been parked on the side of the road as he went inside to pull some money from a local cashpoint – claims that his two young children were within the vehicle and they both were suffering from whiplash injury. At this point Morris and Son’s insurer could smell something was rotten in the state of Denmark and decided to fight the claims – in fact, an automotive engineer examined the accident and declared definitively there was no way to actually suffer whiplash from such a low-speed collision. Luckily the courts agreed, and these suspicious claims were summarily dismissed!

It’s not just the UK where people are fighting against the creep of spurious whiplash injury, though. In fact, would you believe that Australia has seen a marked drop in their own whiplash injury claims, especially in Victoria?

It’s true – over the past 10 years, accident claims for whiplash dropped by more than 25 per cent. The related health costs also dropped my more than 33 per cent, according to a new survey.

So I wonder – what are Australians doing that we aren’t? Do we just have weaker necks than those Down Under or do we need to get with the programme and follow in the Australians’ footsteps? It couldn’t be that bad, especially considering that we could certainly use the respite from high insurance costs caused by whiplash claims!

 

The cost of claims both legitimate and faked

Industry news roundup: week ended 16 Sept 2013:

Whether it’s spurious or legitimate, an accident claim has a serious cost – and not just to the party held responsible for the injury!

Claims fraud is, for example, a serious problem right now in the UK. Why, just the other day there was a massive scam uncovered where two blokes tried to bilk £77,000 from an insurance company – and if they had succeeded, it would have been all of us who would have ended up footing the bill!

Luckily these two bastards, Darren Gallimore and Kenneth Nash, were caught as they were in the midst of organising their ‘cash for crash’ whiplash claim with the help of several other family members. Thankfully an investigation by the insurer discovered that the so-called ‘accident’ might not have ever occurred, and further probing saw the plan uncovered – now the two ringleaders are spending a nice, long 12 months in prison for their attempts to defraud. Good, I say – my insurance premiums are high enough without them having to rocket upwards because my firm needs to recover the cost of fraudulent claims!

But just because fraudulent claims tend to be for ungodly amounts of cash doesn’t mean that legitimate claims can’t be as expensive. In fact, a new Freedom of Information request recently revealed that Blackpool Council is currently being sued for in excess of £45,000 from school-related injuries alone!

That’s right – staff, pupils, and even visitors to Blackpool schools are getting injured left and right it seems. There were some 36 claims that were currently working their way through the courts at the moment, with the most recent being May of this year and the oldest stemming from September of 2010, and the injuries range from simple slips and trips to ending up injured after being hit by a football.

I’m not saying that people don’t end up hurt from accidents – it happens, we all know it – but being hit by a football? Is that truly something that passes for being injured enough to make a claim for personal injury compensation? Sure I can see getting your nose bloodied by an errant, out of control football, but for pity’s sake don’t claim thousands of pounds in injury!

Engineering firms neglect the safety of their employees

Industry news roundup: week ended 9 Sept 2013:

There are some serious accident claims brewing at not one but two engineering firms thanks to recent injuries suffered by their workers.

First up, an unnamed civil engineering worker was nearly backed over by a tipper truck, leaving him with such serious leg injuries that he needed to be taken to hospital by air ambulance. The poor bastard was off work for seven weeks or so as doctors endeavoured to repair a severed artery and several other injuries, including a massive puncture wound and a seriously damaged thigh muscle.

The Health and Safety Executive just finished prosecuting the man’s employer this month, and not the Swindon-based firm has to face fines of £10,000 for not setting better safety practices in place. This is of course on top of whatever personal injury compensation award the injured man wins from his employer – and heaven knows he’s going to be getting quite a bit of cash as long as he’s got a good personal injury solicitor team working for him.

Meanwhile another engineering firm – this one based in Jarrow – just got slapped with another fine from the HSE after one of the company’s workers mangled his hand quite badly in the inner workings of the manual lathe he was operating. The injured worker in question – 19 year old Jarrow native Jack Ward – dislocated one of his knuckles and broke his finger so badly that it required pins and wires to set it properly.

To this day Mr Ward still hasn’t regained full use of his hand. In fact he’ll need at least one more surgery to correct the problem, and all because his employer couldn’t be arsed to make sure its workers were trained properly or given proper safety guidelines.

Honestly I hope that Mr Ward hires the biggest, meanest personal solicitor injury team he can find and that he drains his employers absolutely dry. There’s no excuse for not looking after your own workers, and his employer definitely needs to be taught a lesson about taking care of its own – and I don’t mean just a slap on the wrist and a nominal fine from the Health and Safety Executive – no, he deserves to walk away with a big, fat personal injury compensation award for all his pain and suffering.

I’ve just got no patience for employers like that. I hope Mr Ward ends up getting that last surgery he needs to help him regain some more regular feeling and function in his poor abused hand.

Blame in the time of high legal costs

Industry news roundup: week ended 2 Sept 2013:

The war rages on between the insurance industry and the personal injury claims sector, with finger-pointing and recriminations dominating as usual.

The so-called ‘compensation culture’ that’s gripping the UK is apparently because there are too many personal injury solicitors looking to line their pockets with our hard-earned money, according to the insurance industry – and the Government seems to be choosing sides. Who can forget the ‘where there’s blame, there’s a claim’ slogan that David Cameron trotted out once the Coalition moved in and set up residence?

Well the Government has been doing its best to meddle with the personal injury compensation industry, including pushing through reforms that are supposedly going to make it less expensive for insurers to defend injury claims and will allow these companies to pass on the savings to customers. Only some of these measures have gone into effect but insurers are already gambling that their costs will decrease, and a price war has started between competitors fighting over every single last customer they can claim.

The thing is, there’s no indications that motor insurance is actually going to be profitable this year even with these new changes. Industry experts said recently that it would take a miracle to get the sector back on track – something it hasn’t been in nearly twenty years – and if you ask me this is going to lead to a backlash that will drive prices back up into the stratosphere once these insurers realise their efforts are not netting them the types of cash they need to keep their businesses open and operating successfully.

Of course this isn’t the only aborted attempt on the Government to give personal injury lawyers a hard time. Just recently the Law Society had to weather a hearing to see if an advert campaign it ran this summer had been in breach of any rules or regulations.

The ‘Don’t Get Mugged’ campaign was deemed to actually not be such a terrible thing after all, according to the Advertising Standards Authority, despite the fact that quite a few people lodged complaints.

The advert wasn’t even all that bad, if you ask me – it simply compared using an insurer’s third party capture offer was tantamount to being robbed blind in the aftermath of an accident. Instead, the advert encouraged accident victims to find a qualified injury solicitor instead – something that I’m sure angered the insurance company and its cronies in the Government.