Fitness tracker data to be used in personal injury claim?

Industry news roundup: week ended 24 Nov 2014:

Just when you thought you’ve heard it all: it turns out that data from one of those fitness trackers is going to play a central role in a personal injury claim.

Sure, it can be a chore when it comes to establishing whether or not someone’s actually injured. It’s especially problematic in cases revolving around whiplash claims, as there’s little in the way of observable medical evidence to provide a case either for or against a claim of that nature.

However, what if there was a better way? Imagine if you could look back in time and peer into the body of a claimant at the time of injury – wouldn’t that be a brilliant way to see if their body actually did undergo trauma like it says in their lawsuit?

Well guess what – it’s happening. Or it will happen soon. At least it will in Alberta, Canada, where one company plans on using data from a Fitbit fitness tracker to delve into the issue.

Vivametrica, an analytics firm, just launched a new service that offers a way to use a Fitbit or another similar wearable fitness tracker in personal injury cases. So how does it work? Well a claimant slips the fitness tracker on and wears it for several weeks as the little device does its thing, gathering up data on the claimant’s sleep patterns, daily activity levels, and things of that nature – then Vivametrica takes the information and compares it to its database of other Fitbit users in the claimant’s age, height and weight class. If it turns out that the claimant demonstrates diminished physical capacity for movement then it strengthens his or her case.

Now it seems to me that this could be a good thing – except for the fact that if this new system becomes standardised it could lead to long, drawn out personal injury compensation claims as the data is gathered. I mean for what it’s worth,if you’re going to make injured claimants hobble about for months to prove they were actually injured, effectively making them suffer for longer than they would need to, what good is this new system?

In other words, it sounds like a good, but misguided idea to me. I’m sure that maybe in some instances it might work, but in most? Feels dodgy to me.

Personal injury claims drop, pulling insurance costs down

Industry news roundup: week ended 17 Nov 2014:

With the number of injurious car accident claims going down, research says that insurance costs have relaxed a bit in response to the good news.

It’s been something like ten years since personal injury claims in related to third parties have gone down, says the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, and the good news is that this should be driving down insurance costs by quite a bit. The IFoA says that the changes in legal regulations that were set in place in April of 2013 are finally trickling through enough to effect some real change when it comes to the number of personal injury compensation claims being brought against insurers.

Most of the credit, the organisation says, has to go to the LASPO regulations that banned referral fees in 2013. Critics were getting tired of saying how injurious referral fees were to the insurance and the personal injury compensation markets as they led to the rise of those vile bastard claims management companies that specialised in throwing as many injury claims against the wall as they possibly could just to see which ones would stick. Third party legal costs were also curtailed by the regulations, and that meant there has been more money staying in insurers’ coffers than previously – and you know as well as I do how much insurance companies like holding on to other people’s money!

The IFoA says that overall there’s probably been something like a 10 per cent drop in how many third-party insurance claims have been brought since LASPO became law. Only around £238 million has been spent on these claims since then, a nice drop from the £354 million from beforehand; in even better news there are now 35 per cent fewer claims management companies active today than there were prior to LASPO going into effect.

It’s that last statistic that makes me so happy. Honestly I’m chuffed to bits thinking about how all those ambulance-chasing bastards are out of work now. I suppose they’ll have to go find honest jobs like the rest of us, the poor sods. Well, no skin off my nose – if you ask me, they’ve had it coming for years. Good riddance to bad rubbish and all that.

Think 15 injury claims are bad? Try 160 of them!

Industry news roundup: week ended 10 Nov 2014:

There are personal injury claims nightmares like having to deal with 15 claims, and then there are even worse nightmares – like 160 claims or more.

Big-ticket accident claims often revolve around multiple claimants; that’s just a fact of the personal injury compensation system in the UK. Sure, there are plenty of one-off claims that deal with just one grievously work accident claim that can amount to millions in damages, but it’s more common for ten or so claimants to band together.

This is exactly what Essex County Council is facing right now, thanks to a 15-claimant strong accident claim due to slip-and-trip incidents in Brentwood High Street. So far, three of the claims have been successful, with the county council paying out more than £3,000 in compensation. That’s on top of the £7 million the county shelled out in 2009 to refurbish the street, mind you – and that particular scheme was rather controversial at the time from what I’ve been told!

Of course, 15 claimants is nothing compared to massive litigation problems like the one Jimmy Savile left in the wake of his death at 84. The charitable trust that’s the major beneficiary of his estate says that it’s been dealing with more than 160 claims against Savile posthumously for alleged sex offences and even child abuse.

It’s an ignoble legacy for Savile to be sure, but the allegations were serious enough for a High Court judge to set up a personal injury compensation scheme for his alleged victims. I guess Jim’ll fix it even after he’s well and gone with the judicial application of wads of cash – that is, if there’s any left after these so-called victims keep coming out of the woodwork!

No, I’m not saying I don’t believe them. I mean, say what you want about Savile, he had a bit of a reputation when he was alive, and while the child abuse accusations are a bit hard to swallow I can imagine old Jim’s hands roving a bit too far afield. That being said i wouldn’t put it past some people from trying to cash in on what they might see on an easy way to make a few quid off the soiled reputation of the man.

For what it’s worth, I hope that the legitimate claimants get something out of this and that any possible fraudsters get nicked. Enough is enough already, eh?

Whether it’s £4k or £4m, the injured need compensation

Industry news roundup: week ended 3 Nov 2014:

Injured Brits making accident claims need to get the personal injury compensation coming to them, whether that figure is £4,000 to £4 million.

It’s a tough business, suffering an injury at work or as a result of some other accident. It can leave you with missed pay and mounting medical bills, and whether it’s a little or a lot claimants often need the cash they’re awarded in compensation in order to alive.

Consider the case of Jonathan Wain, which has been making the rounds this week. The factory worker had been working as a mixing bay operator for a bakery in Trent Vale when a metal pipe fell and struck him on the head. The 56 year old worker ended up needing three stitches to stanch the flow of blood from his head wound and was off work for seven weeks as his concussion healed. Apparently the metal pipe hadn’t been sealed properly, causing it to drop on the poor bloke’s head and brain him so severely. Luckily he was able to get some compensation from his employer, which went a long way in rectifying the situation for him.

Meanwhile not all cases are so open and shut. Think about this: 26 year old Paul Vallance had to fight for eight long years before he prevailed on his personal injury compensation claim. Vallance had been involved in an accident at the age of 18 when another driver lost control and slammed into his car, causing severe brain injuries that doctors couldn’t even initially detect.

The poor sod’s brain injury completely changed his personality. Whereas before he had been a calm, cool and collected young bloke, the Vallance that emerged after the incident has been hostile and angry to the point where he’s unable to control his words or deeds. It’s been impossible for the man to hold a job down since then, and while the former trainee manager might have recovered from the broken nose, shoulder and leg he suffered in the crash the damage to his cognitive skills has taken much longer.

Vallance temporarily lost the ability to speak after the incident, yet as he healed the words he was able to once again string together were abusive and aggressive. Vallance’s mother said he would stare into the mirror for hours on end, repeating that he looked like himself but didn’t feel like himself; this prompted his mother to make a claim on behalf of her son. Finally, after a protracted eight-year-long legal battle Vallance has been awarded a £4 million compensation claim, which will pay for the specialised care he is likely to need for the remainder of his life.