Here we go again with that old compensation culture argument

Industry news roundup: week ended 16 March 2015:

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, that old chestnut of ‘compensation culture’ bankrupting insurers has gotten trotted out once more.

If there’s one thing that drives me absolutely barmy it’s listening to insurance providers whinge on and on about how they’re being victimised by everyone. Every once and a while when they don’t feel they’ve gotten enough attention as of late they’ll begin crying about how ‘compensation culture’ is ruining their injury, pointing to increased personal injury claims and greedy, ambulance chasing personal injury lawyers just draining their coffers dry.

The refrain began again this week, with big-time insurer Aviva saying that even though the number of road accidents has gone down by 30 per cent, personal injury claims are up by 62 per cent. Not only that but the insurer said that a full 96 per cent of road traffic accident claims were brought not directly by injured parties but by personal injury lawyers or claims management companies.

Now I need to interrupt right here. Do these insurers really believe they’re fooling anyone with the idea that people legitimately injured in car accidents should be representing themselves? What man or woman in their wildest flights of fancy would be able to sustain a personal injury case against a deep-pocketed insurer like Aviva, especially if the case involves the kinds of injuries that can leave you without the ability to work for weeks or even months?

In a case like that, there’s only one type of person you should be turning to if you’re injured, and it’s a personal injury solicitor. They’re not bloody ambulance chasers simply because they represent people who can’t represent themselevs; yes, they rely on no win no fee agreements to get paid, but that’s because the majority of their claimants don’t have any damned money because they’ve been unable to work for months and they’re just barely squeaking by on savings – or on the largesse of their family members.

Yes, I suppose that insurance fraud is a problem. I’m sure it always will be. But insurers like Aviva, who want to make it harder for the injured to bring lawsuits against them with the aid of a lawyer, are only protecting their own interests at the detriment of others.

Cumbria County Council pays massive accident claims bill

Industry news roundup: week ended 9 March 2015:

Cumbria County Council – already not exactly awash in funds – has had to pay a painfully massive £1.5 million accident claims bill over the last three years.

To make matters worse, the lion’s share of the personal injury claims have been on slips and trips where individuals fell on council roads or footpaths. An eye-watering £1.3 million of the total went to these types of accident claims; luckily some 77 per cent of claims lodged against the local authority didn’t succeed. Can you imagine the total bill if more had?

Still, people are not exactly chuffed about the figure. In fact, James Airey, the council’s Conservative leader, is up in arms about the issue, as he says that the problems that caused all these personal injury compensation cases could have been solved. Airey says that it’s a management issue, as it takes weeks to get pavement problems mended after they’ve been reported – and while he wouldn’t go so far as to call the council dreadful, he did say that the enormous payout could have been used to fill in an awful lot of holes.

Now I really can’t argue with the man, especially when it comes to getting potholes filled. That £1.5 million could have easily been spent on hiring more workers and getting teams out to mend all these massive cracks and potholes that can destroy car tyres and turn ankles. I can’t imagine that it would have taken even a fraction of that payout amount to get everything done.

At the same time, Cumbria County Council isn’t exactly swimming in cash at the moment. It’s not like the payouts come from the council itself – its insurance company ends up footing the bill – but it does mean that the council’s premiums are going to go up. And these fees are paid for out of taxpayer money, so it’s essentially costing local residents even more as they have to pay for the poor maintenance twice over. It’s a wicked, vicious cycle that shows no signs of abating anytime soon – and I just find that a bit depressing, don’t you?

14 years of suffering, £3m in personal injury compensation

Industry news roundup: week ended 23 Feb 2015:

Well it only took 14 years to get what she deserved, but a 24 year old who was injured in a pool accident at the age of 10 finally received her compensation.

It’s stories like this that make me wonder what in the world is wrong with the personal injury claims world. Poor Annie Woodland – she ended up suffering for over a decade as the t’s were crossed and the i’s were dotted because she nearly died during a school swim session. The long delay, apparently, was due to a dispute between whether Essex Council should be held accountable for her injuries even though she was under the cupervision of a contractor while she attended Gloucester Park Pool in Basildon.

The pool lifeguard didn’t manage to see the 10-year-old Woodland quite in time, managing to fish her out of the water but not before the young pupil suffering life-changing injuries. Now the 24 year old has been awarded some £3 million for her pain and suffering – and for the continuing care she will need since she suffered nearly dying from drowning in the pool, all because both the swim instructor and the lifeguard on duty couldn’t be arsed to keep track of the pupils using the bloody pool.

Still, all’s well that ends well, though the poor woman would most likely give up every last penny if it meant she didn’t have to spend the last 12 years of her life falling behind because of brain injuries related to her nearly fatal drowning. I can’t say that I wouldn’t make the same decision myself. I would much rather be whole and healthy than anything else in the entire world, £3 million be damned!

Of course, now everyone is going to say that this new legal development is going to have a so-called “chilling effect” on local authorities taking pupils on trips if they’re afraid of being held responsible for every little thing that happens on these outings. Well bollocks to that I say – if you’re going to be educating our children you should be responsible for them whenever they’re doing school-related don’t you think? It just sounds like common bloody sense!

 

 

Motorbike accident claim leads to £10m compensation award

Industry news roundup: week ended 16 Feb 2015:

A motorcycle accident claim that was made in the wake of a man sustaining crippling injuries has been decided in his favour – to the tune of £10 million or so.

So it may not give Macel Beasley back his full physical function, but the 31 year old can at least live a bit more comfortably after he’s been given the financial wherewithal to actually live his life in the wake of the motorbike accident that changed his life. Beasley, which now needs the use of a wheelchair and requires constant care after he was left with serious brain damage and a serious speech impairment, has just been given a lump sum payment of something like £4.27 million – something he plans to spend on buying a home specially adapted to his needs – and yearly tax-free annual payments of £175,000 to help pay for the 24 hour a day care he can’t survive without.

I’m not going to go into the details surrounding the injuries Beasley sustained. To be completely honest with you it’s rather gruesome – let’s just say that was cut off by a VW Golf and ended up in hospital, in a coma, for two weeks straight before he even woke up. On the way to hospital he was so injured his heart stopped not once, not twice, but three bloody times; it’s an absolute miracle this man is still alive. Long story short – once everyone took a good, long, hard look at the accident, it was decided that the driver of the VW Golf was 100% responsible for the accident. In other words, Beasley got his £10 million compensation package so he can begin to put his life back together, or at least as much as he’ll be able to do now with his permanent and life-changing industries.

Honestly it’s instances like these that break my heart. Sure, Beasley became a millionaire overnight. I can almost guarantee that if you asked him if he would trade every penny of it if he could regain his ability to walk, talk and think unhindered, he would jump at the chance. I know I would – and I’ll wager that you would as well, wouldn’t you?

 

 

How to blow £50k in accident claims cash in a month

Industry news roundup: week ended 9 Feb 2015:

Looking for a crash course to blow £50,000 in personal injury compensation fast? Just follow pensioner Angela Nangle’s lead and you’ll be right as rain.

You heard that right – a 62 year old woman from Brighton spent some £50,000 she had been awarded after an accident claim in order to not have to declare the money as income and risk losing her housing benefit. The story came to light in Brighton Magistrates’ Court recently after it was revealed Nangle took out some £3,000 a day from her trust fund between May 27 and June 29 of 2012.

The story begins in 2009 when she filed notice that she would be receiving a personal injury compensation award that exceeded £16,000. That’s the minimum that would see her losing her housing benefit – and that’s when she placed it in a trust fund so the cash couldn’t be taken into account. However something changed three years later when she didn’t declare any money in the account on a review form, and that sparked an investigation into the matter.

Finally the truth came out recently in court, with Nangle admitting that she had been taking the money out in cash instead of depositing it in a bank account. She knew that if there was any sort of paper trail she’d end up having to list it on a housing benefit claim. The 62 year old instead decided to blow the money any way she could – and I mean any way she could. I’m talking fine dining, expensive wine, and male companionship. That’s right: the pensioner was buying the company of male escorts with her compensation award.

Her reason for doing so? The money was too much trouble to manage, so she decided to get rid of it.

You know if she truly wanted to get rid of her cash I would have been more than happy to take the money off her hands. I could use a new car or two, or maybe a nice sailing yacht. Honestly what was this woman thinking? At any rate I hope she had a good time blowing all that cash like that. I know I would have.

 

Take the bus, make a bogus accident claim

Industry news roundup: week ended 12 Jan 2015:

Looking to put a few bogus personal injury compensation claims in to a hapless insurer? Just take the bus a few times and Bob’s your uncle.

Right, so no one likes riding public transport. Well, some people do but we’ll not talk about those odd ducks. Sometimes you just have to ride the bus, putting your faith in whatever Higher Power you believe in that your driver isn’t a total pillock. Of course, sometimes he’s as thick as a post anyway. Other times, he’s a bloody criminal mastermind.

Apparently, over a period of 15 months, there were seven bus collisions in Chester that were all orchestrated beforehand. Shedloads of people were in on it, including many of the passengers, and if it weren’t for the whole scheme unraveling because the mastermind behind it – a man named John Smith, charmingly enough, who ran a claims management company that went by the name of Swift Accident Solutions. Swift profited by referring “injured” claimants to personal injury solicitors, and with some 177 claimants going through Swift Accident Solutions, Smith was just piling the cash up left and right.

This is of course absolutely maddening to hear about things like this. Luckily, behavior like this can’t be gotten away with today, as the case arose before the ban on taking referral fees from personal injury lawyers for sending possible claimants their way. Still it just makes my blood boil to know this bastard was orchestrating this whole thing. It gives the personal injury compensation industry the kind of black eye that is just so hard to recover from; it’s instances like this that have created the stereotype of the so-called “ambulance chaser” lawyer going about and drumming up business for himself through sleazy, underhanded and borderline illegal means.

For what it’s worth, most people involved in personal injury law aren’t right bastards like this Smith bloke. Yeah, there’s money to be made in the business but it’s the same in any line of work – in this one at least you’re helping people become whole again after sometimes horrific accidents; doesn’t that count for something at least? If you ask me, it certainly does!

This is why we can’t have nice things

Industry news roundup: week ended 5 Jan 2015:

This week, I’ve finally figured out why we can’t have nice things here: there are local authorities so incompetent that they’re their own worst enemies.

File this one under ‘this is why we can’t have nice things’: it was recently revealed that waste trucks owned by Braintree Council have racked up more than £150,000 in personal injury compensation damages over the last half a decade. In fact, from 2009 the council waste trucks have been involved either directly or indirectly in more than 500 accident claims against the council’s insurance policies, with at least £200,000 in damage incurred as a result.

The worst part is that the biggest single payout happened just last September when a driving school vehicle was gently pranged from behind by a road sweeper, generating a massive £21,105 in damages. Thankfully most other payouts were less than that, but with more than 500 of them even a little bit adds up to a lot – every £9,000 or £3,000 road traffic accident claim, put together, amasses to a mountain of payouts.

The best part, though, must be how much damage council drivers managed to do to their own vehicles, with Braintree paying out more than £114,000 over the past five years to simply keep their own waste trucks in good working order. In one case, a council driver managed to open the door of his truck as another vehicle was overtaking, causing around £670 in damages to the truck – and probably giving the daft council worker a nice, good scare as the door was sheared off just inches from him.

Braintree Council of course tried to downlplay the figures, claiming that the local authority’s fleet of more than 80 vehicles that spend more than 1.2 million miles’ worth of time on local roads every year – implying that accidents happen. Well, you know what I say to that? If your drivers have so many miles under their belts and they’re so bloody well trained, why are all these damned accidents still happening? You would think these blokes would be bloody experts that know their vehicles inside and out, but apparently that’s not the case.

And another thing – who pays for all these compensation payouts? The local taxpayer, that’s who. Where do you think the council gets the cash to pay its insurance premiums?

 

Man punches teen, slapped with accident claim case

Industry news roundup: week ended 29 Dec 2014:

A man who punched a teen so hard that stitches were needed has been slapped with a personal injury claim and ordered to pay £400 in compensation.

Looks like there was a little bit of a dust-up outside a pub in Hinckley – the result was 25 year old David Varley throwing a few punches. The (possibly inebriated) gent took out his rage on a 19 year old, cutting the young man so hard that he had two cuts that needed stitches. Well, the 19 year old has the last laugh, as Varley was just ordered to pay £400 in personal injury compensation. On top of that, the bloke’s got to do 120 hours of unpaid work and is now under 12 months of supervision after his six month jail sentence was suspended for 18 months.

Apparently the incident occurred back in March of 2013, but Varley wasn’t actually nicked for the crime until May of 2014. Apparently he had been out of the country for some time; a tip to police saw the man collared at East Midlands Airport after his return flight.

So this just goes to show you: don’t drink and fight. Better yet, don’t drink, fight, then run away for over a year because you’re hiding from the police and you’re probably embarrassed about the whole thing – likely because you’re a big baby that knows he ended up doing the wrong thing. Honestly this Varley bloke is damned lucky he didn’t end up getting worse off. If a particularly bloodthirsty personal injury lawyer had gotten wind of this case, you can only imagine how much Varley could have been in the hole for. As it is, £400 and 120 hours of unpaid work is getting off damned easy.

Listen, I know that I’ve been in situations where I might have said or done things I regret – but throwing punches? Never been that angry. Or maybe that pissed. Still, a little self control goes a long way, for what it’s worth. And for pity’s sake, act your age – and don’t pick on teenagers, even if they’re saying or doing something bloody stupid!

The heartbreak of medical negligence claims

Industry news roundup: week ended 22 Dec 2014:

The personal injury compensation market isn’t all just car accidents and slips and trips on broken pavement – there’s medical negligence claims as well.

There’s something particularly depressing and heartbreaking when it comes to medical negligence claims, especially since they usually stem from a terrible, debilitating injury or ailment that would have never occurred if it wasn’t for a mistake made by medical professionals. The worst of these cases are most certainly those that happen to young children or newborn infants, as it sets these unfortunate kids with a lifetime of pain and suffering.

A good example of this is the teenager from Belfast who recently received a massive £8 million in personal injury compensation after it was proven that his spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy was a result of an improperly treated infection just after his birth. The poor child also ended up with learning difficulties and epilepsy – as if his other injuries weren’t enough – and having to need constant 24 hour a day care.

So on the one hand it’s fantastic to hear that this poor teenager has received such a huge settlement amount. You know as well as I do that he’s going to need that cash as he grows older to be able to afford the things he needs, like a specially adapted home and the round the clock medical care he’s going to need in order to survive. It’s exactly why his personal injury solicitors worked so hard to get him that weighty award.

On the other hand, I am absolutely positive that the poor teen and his family would trade away every single penny just to be made whole. I know that if I had a child in the same predicament I would quite literally give my own arm and a leg to heal my own son or daughter. My heart absolutely goes out to this family for everything they have had to go through, and I can only hope that they can get a bit of respite now that the lawsuit is over and their personal injury claims have been settled against the hospital responsible for the tragic events.

HSE throws book at construction firm for worker’s injuries

Industry news roundup: week ended 15 Dec 2014:

The Health and Safety Executive positively threw the book at a construction firm recently after one of its workers sustained some serious injuries on the job.

49 year old Jamie North, a groundworker from Grimsby, ended up breaking his leg in multiple places as he undertook piling work for Topcon Construction Ltd. The poor bastard went through the ringer, needing not one but two surgical operations to piece his leg back together which required screws and a steel frame. To make matters work, he ended up being diagnosed with a blood clot after a three week hospital stay. Needless to say he’s no longer working in construction and is still undergoing treatments to strengthen his ankle. The personal injury claim is going to be bloody massive – you know it as well as I do.

Meanwhile, Topcon was just found guilty of breaching safety regulations after the HSE prosecuted the firm. The construction company now has to pay some £10,000, as well as personal injury compensation, for the massive debilitating accident, and all because Topcon couldn’t be arsed to make sure that the work equipment being used for cropping piles was in suitable condition.

Honestly I’m not going to go into what exactly hapened to Mr. North. Needless to say it involved a pile that hadn’t been cut right because the equipment used to cut them free, a cropper, didn’t cut through it completely. A worker pushed a pile over and it twisted and fell right on the poor groundworker. And that’s really all I’m going to say about that, considering how gruesome the man’s injuries were.

Meanwhile the whole thing could have been prevented according to the HSE. But no, now Mr North is half-crippled from his experiences and injured so badly that he’ll never work in construction again. Not that firms think that much about the wellbeing of their workers if they don’t have to. This is of course why the HSE fines these companies so deeply – because the only language these bastards speak sometimes is cost and benefit. If we can make it more expensive for firms to not comply with HSE rules than it is to actually take care of their workers properly, maybe we won’t have these ridiculous instances in the future, eh?