Cathedral sues NHS after £130,000 accident claim

Industry news roundup: week ended 30 March 2015:

A £130,000 accident claim has prompted a cathedral to sue the NHS for not properly treating the foot of a worshiper who was injured on church grounds.

So much for ‘turn the other cheek:’ Ripon Cathedral in North Yorkshire has sought to recover some of the £130,000 it paid out to worshiper Christopher Shepherd in a personal injury compensation claim after the man tripped and broke his foot just a few days before Christmas 2008. What looked to be an open-and-shut case of the cathedral being liable for the man’s injury soon blossomed into a major issue after medical negligence caused his foot injury to worsen to the point where Shepherd is now consigned to a wheelchair as he now has the inability to walk more than 100 yards without difficulty.

Ripon Cathedral agreed to pay out on Shepherd’s personal injury claims in 2013, but has since decided to try to recover its costs by bringing suit against the NHS. According to court documents, apparently Shepherd consulted with doctors at Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust twice – first on Christmas Eve 2008 and then again on January 13th of the New Year, but was only finally diagnosed properly on March 18th of that year. The cathedral’s personal injury lawyers say that the NHS doctors should be held responsible for not diagnosing Shepherd’s injuries properly causing a delay so long that the injured man needed surgical procedures to fuse the bones of his foot – an act that left him with severely diminished mobility.

Now this, to me, represents a perfect example of medical negligence. The poor bastard made two trips to see NHS doctors and both times he was simply brushed off. Meanwhile his foot simply got worse and worse until he needed the painful, mobility-limiting surgery.  For what it’s worth, the NHS had a serious role in the extent of Shepherd’s injuries and should pay the price.

I’m not saying that the cathedral is off the hook; the initial injury took place on cathedral grounds so there is at least a modicum of liability there. But if Shepherd had gotten the treatment he needed immediately instead of months afterwards, the results would have been much less painful for him – and that would have led to a much smaller legal bill for Ripon Cathedral!


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!



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!

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?

Personal njury claims fraudster caught red handed by video

Industry news roundup: week ended 8 Dec 2014:

Some days, it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed and try to falsify accident claims for cash you didn’t earn or don’t deserve. What’s the world coming to?

Poor Waheed Iqbal. He tried so hard, he really did – the 36 year old man went in for a personal injury compensation claim of £10,000 against Lidl after he slipped on a wet bag at his local store. Or, well, he claimed to have slipped on the wet bag; it turns out that the bloke actually faked the whole thing before making the injury claim. Of course what he didn’t realise that the whole bloody thing was caught on video, exposing him for the fraudster he truly is!

For his sins, Iqbal has been slapped with court costs and legal fees of almost £9,000. On top of that he’s been given a 10 month jail sentence, suspended for two years, for his criminal activities.

Iqbal’s duplicity was laid bare for all after CCTV footage from the Lidl store in Bradford where he staged the incident. Instead of actually slipping on a wet bag, the criminal mastermind was shown to have positioned his shopping trolley before lowering himself down to the floor – which is when he then called for help.

The man claimed that he had suffered ankle, leg, back and head injuries – or at least that’s what he told AIG, Lidl’s insurer. Despite that, on his way to hospital, he asked paramedics to stop the ambulance so he could get out and speak to the store manager about whether the incident was recorded or not. The next day he brought himself to hospital, complaining of pain and vomiting – and sniffing about for a £10,000 damages award from AIG.

Honestly this must be the worst criminal in the entirety of Bradford, if not the UK itself. First off, who thinks that they’re going to get away with such a flimsy story? Secondly, who doesn’t check beforehand for CCTV cameras? Finally, who in their right minds thinks of committing such a crime in the first place? Did Iqbal truly think it was going to be easy? If he did he’s not only stupid, he’s positively barmy.

Well, too bad for him he got caught. Not surprised in the least – the man is obviously not playing with a full deck of cards.

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.