The hidden danger of seat belt injuries

You wouldn’t believe the irony we see by way of accident claims. From women slipping up on their own dog’s, erm, doings to well-catalogued incidents of burglars cutting their hands on glass they themselves have broken.

Okay, they’re not laugh-out-loud funny, but a wry smile brought on by divine justice sometimes cannot be avoided.

There are arguable cases of irony that are perhaps neither so funny and equally less avoidable. One of the main instances is injury from seat belts.

Thirty years of seat belt legislation

It’s been some years now since the seatbelt law was passed. Indeed, it celebrates three decades of legislation this year. It had its critics then (and some), but not so many no.

Seatbelts are a necessary evil. Indeed, the number of lives saved by seat belts is estimated at just under 10,000 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

However, not everyone walks away from an RTA praising seat belts for the injury they’ve saved.

Rather, for those who have suffered injury through wearing a seat belt, the pain is all to real. And we’re not talking a spurious whiplash injury.

Seat belt injury extends much further than just whiplash

Seat belt technology has come a long way since they were first introduced over 60 years ago. In the most modern vehicles, they are designed to disperse the force one would be subjected too at the moment of impact.

For a typical seatbelt wearer, injury to their ribs and hips, the places where the belt crosses the body are the most commonplace and less impactful on the victim’s life.

In the event of a larger RTA or if the seat belt isn’t being worn properly, “seat belt syndrome” can cause much more significant damage than a little bruising of the bone.

Ruptures or lacerations of internal organs where the belt passes across soft body tissue beneath the solar plexus are particularly nasty.

Soft tissue areas are most susceptible to seat belt injury

A layer of fat is no protection from the BHP of a supercar stopping suddenly or the collision at speed that engages the tough material.

All of the organs are susceptible, depending upon the circumstances of the crash. The liver and spleen can easily be lacerated in the right circumstances.

Likewise, your tummy, bowel and colon can all suffer lacerations, along with damage to the pancreas, spine and vascular injuries, too.

Seat belts go way beyond a simple whiplash claim. Although, for the good it’s suggested they do, there will be no immediate plans to change the law. Far too many lives are saved annually in comparison for that to be the case.

If you have suffered from the seat belt itself, or if it’s failed to work on impact, you can still consider an accident claim for the damage and inconvenience caused by such a traumatic event.

There’s no danger of the defence arguing that you shouldn’t have been wearing one and, in most cases, the injuries are serious enough to warrant a hospital visit, hence the medical reports will be on file already.

Yes, it’s ironic that the seat belts installed to save your life can end up causing you tremendous pain.

However, the consequences of not wearing one in an accident that could cause injury by default would be a lot worse for the individual had they not belted up before setting off.

As they used to say:

Clunk, Click, every trip

Sound advice, because wearing a seat belt could be the difference between a minor and major trauma in the event of a collision

Liverpool: whiplash claim capital of the UK

A new survey has discovered that Liverpool could be considered the whiplash capital of the UK, as the number of whiplash claims being made within the city leaves the rest of the country’s figures to pale in comparison.

22 out of every 1,000 people in Liverpool reported suffering from whiplash after a road traffic accident, which beat out both Uxbridge’s 21 and Oldham’s 20 to claim the dubious honour of the top spot.  However, there are parts of Scotland that boast much lower figures, such as the Dundee and Edinburgh areas that have only three whiplash-related claims for every thousand general car accident claims, the survey discovered.

Spurious claims cost £2 billion every year the insurance industry says, which can account to an additional £90 being tacked on to every motorist’s insurance policy as a result.  Things have gotten much worse in only a few years, as whiplash claims have rocket by 70 per cent over the second half of the last decade, even as the number of accidents actually declined by 23 per cent over the same period of time.

Scotland seems to have the safest and most honest drivers place in nearly every instance, as a Freedom of Information request discovered that 90 per cent of the postcodes with the least number of whiplash-related claims occurred within the country.  Industry experts say that this could be the result of a legal system which has much more stringent controls in place than in other regions of the UK.

Car accident claim leads to £11k compensation payout

A road accident claim made by a seriously injured grandfather from Chelmsford following being struck from his bicycle by a hit and run driver has resulted in a payout of £11,000 in personal injury compensation, legal experts recently reported.

Great Waltham native Jack Dixon, fifty nine years old, had been cycling home when he was victimised by a hit and run driver.  According to Mr Dixon’s personal injury claims, he was struck when a driver  had attempted to avoid a set of temporary traffic lights that had been installed in the village on Broomfield Road by making a sharp left turn.

In a recent interview with reporters for the Brentford Weekly News newspaper, Mr Dixon recounted how the front wheel of his bicycle was knocked clean off in the collision with the other vehicle, which sent him careering onto the road.  The fifty nine year old grandfather was left with both a dislocated shoulder and a fractured shoulder blade as a result of the crash, the newspaper reported.

The driver of the car immediately fled the scene of the accident.  However, a witness to the incident set off in pursuit of the vehicle, managing to take down the registration number of the hit and run driver.

Mr Dixon launched a compensation claim against the insurance company that covered the driver and was given a damages award of £11,000 for his pain and suffering once the insurer accepted liability for his injuries.  The man informed the newspaper that he was quite grateful to the member of the public that pursued the driver in order to take down the car’s details, as the Good Samaritan’s actions made it possible to track down the driver.

Berkshire man seeks £300k in road accident claim

One man from Berkshire has made a road accident claim for £300,000 after he sustained severe personal in jury when the car in which he was travelling collided with a wall, personal injury compensation experts recently reported.

Tilehurst, Reading native Steven Whitcher, thirty two years of age, had been riding in his friend Christopher Harwood’s Vauxhall Vectra as Mr Harwood drove the vehicle along the A340 near Theale, according to a recent article appearing in the Reading Post.  As the vehicle drew close to a T-junction, a car crossed Mr Harwood’s path, forcing him to take steps to avoid colliding with it and leading the driver to lose control of the car, sending it careering into a wall, according to Mr Witcher’s personal injury claims.

The collision left Mr Whitcher, who had been riding in the front passenger seat at the time, with severe injuries including a dislocated knee and a fractured right leg.  The thirty two year old man has also been diagnosed with a psychological condition known as travel anxiety, and is currently being treated for the illness by a cognitive behavioural therapist.

Mr Whitcher has also launched a personal injury compensation claim against the driver of the other car that caused the accident, Patrick Llewelyn-Davies, claiming that if the other driver had been acting with due care, the  incident would have never occurred.  Mr Llewelyn-Davies’ insurance providers have since admitted liability for Mr Whitcher’s injuries, but the total compensation award to be paid to the injured man has yet to be settled upon, experts say.

MPs urge tougher medical tests in whiplash claims

MPs have said that drivers need to undergo more rigorous medical testing when looking for compensation in cases of whiplash, industry experts recently reported.

The Transport Select Committee has made the recommendation that whiplash diagnoses need to be subject to higher levels of scrutiny, as too many unscrupulous no win no fee solicitors are exploiting the subjective standards as they exist currently.  MPs also urged insurers to abandon premium-inflating practices in regards to personal injury claims, such as selling personal details of their customers to third parties.

In order to reduce motor insurance costs, the report also recommended a cross-departmental ministerial committee.  The Transport Select Committee chair, Louise Ellman, remarked that insurers find it difficult to challenge whiplash claims due to their highly subjective nature in regards to diagnosis and that whiplash claims are primary reason premiums were increasing (see whiplasclaim.org.uk).

Claim levels have doubled over the past decade as solicitors rake in the cash from the increased number of whiplash claims, the report said.  Accounting for more than 7 out of every ten injury cases, whiplash claims have increased insurance premiums by 16.4 per cent in 2011, according to the committee.

Even though accident casualties on the road have fallen by one third over the past ten years, the number of claims made have ballooned by nearly double.  Between 2000 and 2005, official figures say there were only 395,735 such claims every year, yet there were nearly 791,000 claims in 2011 alone.

The bar needs to be raised in regards to whiplash compensation cases, the report recommended, adding that legislative efforts may be needed if claims numbers do not undergo a significant decline therein.

ABI says new OFT investigation could lead to reforms

A new investigation into personal injury claims stemming from car accidents being conducted by the Office of Fair Trading could lead to an opportunity to institute reforms to the legal system, the Association of British Insurers recently said.

The ABI stated that it welcomed the news of the investigation into credit hire and motor repairs arrangements, as both insurers and the OFT want consumers to gain access to the best possible deals.  The insurance industry body was encouraged in particular by the OFT’s recognition that motor insurers face a large scale problem when it comes to car accident claims, as the ABI has been making the argument that reforms have been needed for quite some time, the statement also read.

The ABI statement continued, claiming that the industry body has been calling for the system’s inefficiencies and unnecessary costs to be addressed for years.  These issues, ranging from credit repair to credit hire to personal injury compensation, have finally been recognised by the OFT, said the ABI.

The industry as a whole is completely committed to the improvement of the market in order for consumer benefit, the statement also said, adding that ABI members have already been taking proactive steps to remove costs that are driving up premium prices unnecessarily through the development of market practices.  The ABI remarked it was looking forward to a continuation of its engagement with the OFT while the government watchdog continues to conduct their study of the insurance market, with the hopes that it will result in lower premium prices for its customers and industry improvements.

Insurers and GPs call for new governmental whiplash guidelines

A coalition of insurers and GPs have recently called for new governmental guidelines on the diagnosis of whiplash and other associated disorders in order to combat the personal injury compensation culture that has been growing in the UK.

The plea for action included a consensus document being developed at the coalition conference, which takes place in London today.  Following the conference, the document will be submitted to the government and published.

Constructed by stakeholders and senior professors, the document is based on the most up to date guidelines and research by insurers and clinicians who have come to the conclusion that the current personal injury claims system is in need of improvement due to its susceptibility to fraud and abuse.  GPs and insurers have many concerns in common, according to research studies that were commissioned in the lead up to the London seminar.

More than 47 per cent of GPs who habitually provide personal injury medical reports were found to believe that the system in its present state is geared towards encouraging whiplash diagnoses that lead to maximum financial gain.  The research also discovered that 88 per cent of GPs do not believe that every claim needs to be labelled as whiplash, instead recommending the implementation of a new injury grading system, as three out of every four medical professionals reported that they felt the system in its current state is too susceptible to fraud.

Musculoskeletal expert, Dr Nick Kendall, who chaired the seminar, remarked that there is clearly something amiss with the current system, as there are reports of fewer road crashes and improved road safety, yet more than 1,600 whiplash claims are made on a daily basis.

26 bus passengers make car accident claims in Belfast incident

Out of the 35 passengers on a bus that had  had been traveling in Belfast when it crashed and overturned,  26 of them have made car accident claims for injuries sustained in the crash.

Earlier this year, the bus jumped the kerb outside Central Station before careering into a wall, resulting in injuries to a total of 31 people including those outside of the bus.  The Transport Minister recently revealed number of passengers that have gone on to make personal injury claims in response to queries made by Irish lawmakers.

Personal injury compensation figures have been rising across the country, leaving many to fear that people have begun to exaggerate their injuries or even tell complete falsehoods in an effort to get easy money.  However, Irish lawmakers said that anyone injured due to an accident is entitled to seek compensation for any injuries they may have sustained during the incident.

The incident was quite shocking, legislators said, with few having any doubt that a large number of bus passengers have had to deal with not only physical injury but shock as well.  These passengers are entitled to make their claims and have them resolved in a swift manner, experts say, so that those in need can get the aid as quickly as possible.

The bus overturned on August 14 after mounting the kerb on its way towards Belfast city centre, according to official reports.  Once the vehicle toppled over, smashing on to the road, several passengers ended up flying from their seats, including several children, a baby, and a pregnant woman.

Hospitals around Belfast were soon inundated by injured bus passengers while emergency services fought to free the severely injured bus driver from the wreckage.

Government vows to cut fees paid in car accident claims

The government has recently taken a vow to reduce the fees paid to personal injury lawyers for injury cases such as car accident claims as the campaign continues to eradicate spurious and costly claims that lead to higher insurance premiums.

In uncontested personal injury cases worth less than £10,000, injury solicitors receive a fixed £1,200 fee.  Anywhere between £600 to £800 of this sum will towards paying a referral fee, as doing so allows them access to the personal information of accident victims in an effort to discover an increased number of those potentially lucrative claimants.

MP Jack Straw recently told the transport select committee that the personal injury claims ‘merry-go-round’ needed to stop, as it can be blamed for pushing insurance premium prices up into the stratosphere.  One specialist insurer, Young Marmalade, submitted a survey to the select committee, discovering that nearly all young motorists feel as if high insurance costs have been working to price them off the road – and one out of every five were even ready to get behind the wheel without insurance at all.

Axa UK chief executive, Paul Evans, also appeared before the committee, in order to state that there would be a guarantee that  insurance providers would cut their prices considerably if lawyers’ fees were done away with.  Mr Evans promised that both premiums will reduce and the number of injury claims in the country would go into decline if there was a reduction in the fixed fee.

However, justice minister Jonathan Djanogly stated that cutting fees is a complicated task due to the fact that the amount that goes towards referral fees differs from one legal expert to another.

Personal injury compensation reforms could hurt hospitals

The new proposals for changing the personal injury compensation laws in the UK could have an unforeseen affect on hospitals in Leicester, as they could lose out on cash for patient treatments, experts say.

£1.6 million in costs were recovered on behalf of hospitals in Leicester in the 2010-2011 financial year in order to pay the treatment costs for patients claiming and receiving awards from personal injury claims, according to official figures from the Department of Health.  The compensatory damages could have been paid out for accident claims such as  falling over on a pavement or an injury suffered at work, while an additional £129,500 was recovered for the Leicestershire County and Rutland NHS Primary Care Trust.

However, in light of the legal aid changes proposed by the government, some fear that the new measures will lead to a decline in the number of individuals who decide to make compensation claims, which would directly lead to a fall in recoverable money by the NHS for the treatment of these claimants.  One legal expert employed by law firm Harvey Ingram in Leicester, remarked that the health service currently saves quite a bit of money, as the insurance firm of the defendant is required to pay the costs associated with any NHS treatment

However, said the expert, the NHS will not be able to claim nearly as much money if a smaller number of claims are brought.  The health service and individuals are most likely to be affected quite seriously if these changes go ahead, the expert added.

The planned Government reforms are yet to be finalised, according to legal insiders.