Compensation culture spreads to Northern Ireland

Industry news roundup: week ended 29 Sept 2014:

The so-called “compensation culture” has spread to Northern Ireland with the revelation that PSNI has paid out more than £50 million in just three short years.

A total of £51.8 million has been shelled out to police officers from 2011-12 to 2013-14, new research shows, for a large swathe of work accident claims including broken bones and hearing loss. Other injury claims made include cases related to damage to property, unfair dismissal and discrimination. Still, the lion’s share of these payouts were for personal injury compensation by a wide, wide margin; £49.5 million to be exact.

Does that sound excessive to you? You’re obviously not the only one. Dolores Kelly, SDLP Policing Board member, reported being deeply disturbed by the news of the explosion of payouts over the past few years. It was Kelly who raised the spectre of compensation culture, pointing out that there’s obviously something amiss here.

Now I’m not necessarily one to take the side of the police but I do have to say it might not be entirely their fault. The last few years have seen more than a bit of civil unrest in the region, and there have been some serious rows during parades and things of that nature. Not only that but being a copper isn’t exactly a low-risk job – you’re possibly putting your life on the line every day, even if you’re riding a desk – so it’s not entirely beyond human comprehension that PSNI had such a serious glut of injury compensation cases lately.

On the other hand, though, £51 million is a shedload of cash. Where is all this money coming from if not from taxpayer pockets? And furthermore isn’t PSNI facing serious budget cuts already? What’s going to happen once funding for the police gets slashed? I don’t think anyone here has the bollocks to think that conditions for cops will become better and that injuries will decrease. No, I’m predicting that things will steadily get worse in the region. I don’t think it will get so far as to result in complete societal collapse or something like that, but I do think that there’s gong to have to be some hard questions asked in Westminster about funding and how to handle this ‘compensation culture’ problem in Northern Ireland.

Insurers say injury claims fraud is a developing problem

Industry news roundup: week ended 22 Sept 2014:

Fraudulent personal injury claims made against insurance policies are becoming more and more of a problem, according to the nation’s insurance providers.

In fact, according to insurers these criminal fraudsters are getting more and more brazen and inventive in their attempts to bilk cash out of supposedly hapless insurance companies. The newest thing that these scammers will try will probably surprise you: new research says that it’s no longer whiplash claims that are the go-to when it comes to fraud but instead industrial deafness claims instead.

The Insurance Fraud Bureau said recently that criminal gangs, which have usually been involved in ‘cash for crash’ road traffic accident claims have since packed up their bags and moved on to bigger and better things. There have been enough legislative changes to the industry that whiplash claims just aren’t profitable any more, and this has caused fraudsters to migrate to new areas – and the Association of British Insurers agrees with the IFB’s assessment.

Meanwhile it’s not just these highly organized rings of criminals that engage in insurance fraud – sometimes it’s the bloke next door. Well, at least the ABI seems to think so, as the industry body says that just regular everyday fraud – like not telling your insurer how many motoring convictions or previous claims you’ve had whilst making a new application – is occurring at record rates.

Apparently the ABI identified more than 180,000 instances of attempted fraud last year. That works out to nearly 500 applications with fraudulent information on them every day, and nearly all of these instances revolved around customers trying to pull the wool over the eyes of insurers in an attempt to save some cash.

Now I’m not condoning insurance fraud – far from it – but maybe this should be a message to insurers that their prices are too high. What do you think? If there were 180,000 applications put in last year that kept information from insurers in an attempt to get a cheaper policy price, that’s not exactly just a drop in the bucket. That sounds more like the situation is indicating that Brits have had enough of being soaked for as much cash as possible just for the so-called privilege of driving their own car. Honestly though ladies and gents, there are better ways to save cash on your insurance policy – don’t go breaking the law for a few quid!

NHS inundated with new medical negligence claims

Industry news roundup: week ended 15 Sept 2014:

The NHS has been awash in new medical negligence claims this year – and the stories behind these personal injury claims are positively heartbreaking.

It’s always difficult to think that the doctors and other medical health professionals working for the NHS make mistakes, especially since such a mistake can lead to life-changing (or even life-ending) results for patients and their families. I know I don’t like to think about it when I go to the GP with a health problem, but it’s always there in the back of my head, and now there’s more nightmare fuel for me, you and all of us thanks to the new information released by the Health & Social Care Information Centre this week.

HSCIC went through and added up all the complaints that had been made against the NHS during the 2013-2014 year and came up with a staggering figure: there’s been nearly 175,000 over this time. This represents a seven per cent jump over the 2012-2013 year, and it’s more than a bit scary to think that medical professionals are making so many more mistakes this year.

The figures are staggering but the personal details of each complaint are even more disheartening. Consider the facts of a medical negligence claim that came forward this week concerning a man who died at the all-too-early age of 30 after being misdiagnosed by hospital staff: poor Andrew Raybould had been sent to hospital not once, not twice, but three bloody times, and every time he was sent home because no one in the entire damn hospital could suss out that he was suffering from severe pancreatitis. Meanwhile the poor bloke died from the condition, all the while suffering from multiple organ failure and sepsis.

The man’s parents are of course incredibly bereaved and are incensed with the way their son was treated by the NHS, and I for one can not fault them for even one moment for how they’re feeling. Just on the face of it the situation seems absolutely abhorrent and I hope they can sink their teeth into the NHS for as much as they can get out of it. Sure it won’t ever ease the pain of having their son ripped away from them, but at the very least they’ll know the incompetence of that medical staff will not go unpunished.

Road traffic accidents cause trouble for everyone

Industry news roundup: week ended 8 Sept 2014:

Road traffic accidents are one of the most prevalent types of events that lead to accident claims – and it can happen to people from all walks of life.

This week’s news cycle proves that point like none other. Here are two very different types of road traffic accident claims that couldn’t be more different than one another.

First up is the tragic story of how a 94 year old pensioner died in the wake of an RTA with a police car in Clifton. Whilst the accident – which turned fatal once the poor man was taken to hospital – occurred last December, the recent inquest into his death made news headlines this past week, where it was revealed the police car was traveling 25mph over the 40mph limit in the area because it was pursuing another vehicle at the time. To her credit, the officer that had been driving the police car gave her testimony whilst fighting back tears, recounting how there was nothing she could have done to have avoided the accident thanks to the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Forensic investigators said that even if the police car had been traveling at 40mph the accident most likely would have happened anyway and that the elderly man simply timed his manoeuvre wrong and didn’t detect the presence of the oncoming police car. Still, the pensioner’s family is pursuing personal injury compensation from Nottinghamshire Police even though the PC driving the vehicle has been cleared of any wrongdoing. If you ask me the whole thing is just tragic as anything, and my heart aches for both the poor police officer that has to now live with the knowledge that she was involved in this man’s death – and the family of the poor soul that’s passed on.

Meanwhile, here’s the other side of the coin – a 26 year old on benefits who supposedly couldn’t work in the wake of a motorcycle accident claim was caught making money on the side even whilst he was on the dole. The little bastard wasn’t just being sneaky though – he was selling cannabis to his mates to make some extra cash!

And not just a little cash either, according to the police. He was stopped on the street by the fuzz where they found around £15 of the drug on him and some £700 in cash. Then at a later date there was a raid where more than 92 grams of cannabis was found – which had a street value of nearly £1,000! So much for not being able to earn a living because of his injuries!

Meanwhile the little snake avoided jail time somehow. All he has to do is perform 100 hours of unpaid work, serve a suspended nine month prison sentence, and pay the £100 surchareg for his drug rehabilitation. And who says crime doesn’t pay? Cheeky bastard.

Criminal behaviour and accident claims hand in hand?

Industry news roundup: week ended 1 Sept 2014:

Just because you’re a criminal doesn’t mean you can’t make accident claims or be involved in them tangentially, if this week’s news is any example.

When I think of criminals and personal injury compensation cases, it’s usually in the context of claims fraud or something like that. However, that’s not always the case – in fact sometimes there are legitimate cases that arise out of otherwise unlawful activity!

Consider this one smart cookie: 45 year old John Dawson ended up putting his mate’s eye out with his thumb in a drunken brawl after his friend inadvertently cracked the man’s tooth. Initially the story told to the police was that it was an accidental fall that caused the injury but lo and behold once his friend ended up sacked from his job due to his injuries the man changed his tune – and all of a sudden there’s a personal injury claim made against Dawson, not to mention criminal charges filed as well!

Lo and behold, the bloke’s going to jail and will more than likely be liable for the injury he did to his mate. Not much of a surprise there really, but an interesting story as to how quickly fates – and friendships – can be dissolved, especially when there’s money on the table. Meanwhile there was another case this week that’s a bit even more on the nose if you ask me – a prison inmate is going to have his day in court for a £10,000 accident claim for the injuries he sustained whilst taking out the trash.

Apparently 44 year old Alan McAuley had his hand smashed by the lid of the rubbish bin at Castle Huntly open prison. The inmate, who is serving time on a drugs-related charge, said that he had three months of discomfort in his wrist and that he had limited dexterity in his hand for some time after the skip lid dropped on it suddenly.

Now normally I’d just dismiss the claim as money-grubbing criminal behaviour but there could be a grain of truth in this, as apparently the rubbish bin’s lid wouldn’t stay open on its own and actually had to be propped open with a mop handle.  Is it worth ten thousand quid? Honestly I wouldn’t think so, but I also think it’s important that this one bloke at least gets his day in court – don’t you agree?