Defendants giveth, and defendants taketh away

Industry news roundup: week ended 25 Nov 2013:

This week, it seems like that for every story that has claimants winning big on their personal injury claims there’s another where the injured are sent packing.

First up, it’s good news for a quintet of teachers in Cambridgeshire, as personal injury compensation in excess of £150,000 has been paid out to them after a myriad of injury claims. Their injuries came from several sources, including slips and trips and even one instance of an assault – and for what it’s worth I don’t fault these staff members from seeking compensation. While it’s not quite as dangerous as some jobs, there’s plenty of opportunity for some pretty bad injuries in schools across the UK, and it’s important to know that if you do get injured on the job there’s some recompense waiting for you.

Of course, not all local authorities are quite so compassionate. In fact, one driver who suffered £1,000 in damage to his vehicle after falling afoul of a particularly nasty pothole has been left out to dry by Essex County Council.

Poor Adam Glenister had to foot the bill himself after the pothole mangled his Audi A1’s alloy wheels to the point that they needed replacement. On top of that, the pothole caused enough damage to his wheel tracking to need them repaired. Despite that, the local authority flatly refused to come to Mr Glenister’s aid because just seven short months ago – ha! – there was an inspection on that particular stretch of road that didn’t turn up any glaring faults.

Somehow – and I don’t know what goes through these barmy bastards heads when it comes to admitting liability – the state of the roads and the damage to Mr Glenister’s car just wasn’t bad enough to warrant the county council for shelling out the measly £1,000 to compensate the poor bloke. It’s not like Mr Glenister didn’t back up his claim with the proper documentation, either; he submitted all sorts of photographic proof of the pothole and the damage to his car, but it just wasn’t enough for Essex County Council.

So there you have it – don’t expect anything from a council like that. Maybe Mr Glenister would have had more luck if he’d run over that pothole in Cambridgeshire instead? They seem a bit more honest just a few more miles to the north, don’t they?

 

Accident victims to be held responsible for own injuries?

Industry news roundup: week ended 18 Nov 2013:

There’s a distressing trend going around when it comes to liability for personal injury claims – people being held responsible despite their status as victims.

Sometimes I can understand why the law might look down on people who play a role in their own misfortune. For instance, while it’s not currently compulsory to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, more and more injured cyclists that weren’t wearing their helmet at the time of their road traffic accident are finding judges are rather disposed to hold them partially responsible for their own injuries.

The whole idea of contributory negligence is an interesting one – essentially it boils down to saying that the injured victim could have reduced their injuries or eliminated them altogether if they had just done something differently. However, with the whole bicycle helmet issue, if the courts are going to place blame on cyclists for not wearing a helmet even though the law doesn’t make it a requirement, that seems a little questionable if you ask me.

There’s contributory negligence and then there’s just over-the-top stupidity that defies all common sense, like the story where one woman from Belfast had her car stolen yet somehow ends up having to foot the bill on the accident claims made by the two PNSI officers who were involved in apprehending the thieves. Apparently it doesn’t matter that the criminals – who broke into her family home, made off with all sorts of personal property, and then stole not just her car but her partner’s as well – were the ones driving the vehicles when the PNSI patrol had to ram them.

Unbelievably, each officer made personal injury claims for £7,500 each, and now her insurer is expected to foot the bill. On top of that, as the two criminals fled from her home in their nicked vehicles, they ran rampant through her neighbours’ properties – and she’s also expected to pay out an additional £10,000 as well. All this has increased her insurance costs by some £300 per annum – with an additional £300 hike paid by her partner as well – simply because she had the misfortune to be targeted by the thieves.

 

Courts cracking down on personal injury claims fraud

Industry news roundup: week ended 11 Nov 2013:

It’s no big secret that accident claims fraud is a serious problem in the UK, but the courts are slowly but surely catching up with scammers in a major way.

In fact, this week’s news was absolutely lit up with not one but two stories of how supposedly ‘injured’ people have been caught red-handed. The whole big reveal started with the news that 59 year old Barbari Fari, a woman who tried to weasel £750,000 out of Homes for Haringey after she suffered a trip-and-fall injury on a bit of uneven paving, has been sent to jail for three months after it was discovered she was absolutely full of it.

Fari was found to not nearly be suffering as badly from her trip injury, despite the claims she made in her bid for personal injury compensation. In fact, apparently she was walking about near her home much more easily than she did during her medical examinations – and the writing on the wall was she was trying to take the piss out of Homes for Haringey as a result.

It’s not just fabricated injuries that count as fraud, though – even if you’re legitimately injured you can still get yourself in serious hot water if you try to get more than your fair share. This happened to 52 year old wheelchair-bound David Hardaker that taking some £77,000 in benefits while he had tens of thousands of pounds in a savings account.

It just goes to show you that the law isn’t about leaving you better-off than you were before you were injured but instead to make you whole. If you’ve got an average of nearly £20,000 in the bank over the course of three years, yet neglect to tell anyone about it, the Government gets a bit upset when they find out – especially when they’ve been overpaying you to the tune of nearly a hundred thousand pounds. It tends to make them cranky – and Hardaker found this out the hard way.

Truth be told he’s already started to pay back what he owes, but he’s had to put his house up for sale to do it. I’d feel bad for him but I really can’t – the thick bastard brought this on himself and he’s got no one else to blame for the whole horrid affair. Maybe next time he’ll be a bit more honest, eh? Bloody idiot.

Whiplash backlash as legal costs rise, could affect claimants

Industry news roundup: week ended 4 Nov 2013:

Legal costs for whiplash claims are on the rise, prompting new measures designed to stem the rising tide but may end up hurting legitimate claimants.

So here we go, ladies and gentlemen: this week, it was revealed that it costs around £2,500 in legal fees to bring a small accident claim where whiplash injury is involved. Or at least that’s what the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries claims, as the organisation says these costs have gone up by 15 per cent in the three years since new legal reforms were put in place to limit these types of costs.

So in other words, the Institute is saying, these reforms haven’t done anything to make things less expensive for insurers. Of course it did concede that the new Legal Aid law will likely reduce the costs incurred by the insurance industry.

The problem here is it seems as if organisations and trade bodies are more interested in how to save insurers money than they are with the fact that people injured in car accidents through no fault of their own are entitled to be made whole by the responsible party. For what it’s worth, maybe we should make it harder for insurance fraud to occur instead of just making it harder for everyone to bring a claim, both legitimately injured people and scammers alike.

Now the Government may have hit on a good solution for this, according to another news story this week: an independent medical panel system is being planned where injured accident victims will be examined to determine the extent of their injuries. Now this may sound like a good idea on the face of it, but I was under the impression that a whiplash injury is hard to prove medically, as the type of soft tissue injury that characterises whiplash isn’t all that easy to prove. You’ve got to go on the symptoms patients are reporting instead, which makes me wonder what these independent medical panels are actually going to accomplish that a GP can’t.

Typical example of more government waste, if you ask me. You know if half the time, energy and money was spent looking into better detection and treatment methods for whiplash instead of all this rubbish maybe we wouldn’t have such a whiplash epidemic in the UK right now!