Diminutive disabled access door leads to accident claim

Industry news roundup: week ended 1 Dec 2014:

A disabled access door at a cinema that turned out to be too small has led to an accident claim being made by a pensioner currently languishing in hospital.

Everyone likes going to the cinema, am I right? Even if there’s nothing but rubbish playing at your local, it’s a chance to get away from real life for a while. Well, at least it should have been for 64 year old Ian Johnston, but he happened to have a run-in with a disabled access door that was allegedly too short, leading on a bump to the head and a backwards fall that left him paralysed.

Mr Johnston, a retired postman, already had a pre-existing neurological condition called CIDP – short for chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy – that necessitates him walking with crutches. Last March, he was attending Showcase Cinema in Stockton, at Teesside Leisure Park, when he bumped his head atop the doorway of a disabled access entrance, causing his CIDP to worsen. The injured man fell backwards so hard that he fractured his spine, eventually ending up in hospital – where he still is now, some 34 weeks after the initial incident.

Today, Mr Johnston says that he’s suffering from paralysis that only leaves his arms able to move. As a result he brought a personal injury claim against NATL Amusements, the cinema operator, on the grounds that the disabled access door should have been higher. For what it’s worth it’s not like the man is even all that tall to begin with – at 6ft 1in he’s hardly a giant, and it’s not like he was using those crutches to gain a few inches of height either, so it sounds to me that maybe that disabled access door was indeed a bit shorter than it should be.

Whether it’s something that will lead to a big fat personal injury compensation award, though, is anyone’s guess. My heart goes out to Mr Johnston of course, as it sounds like he has more than his fair share to deal with between his CIDP, his fractured spine, and now this case of paralysis. I can only hope that the cinema’s operator decides it’s not worth the effort for a long and arduous court case and simply settles out of court so the man can get on with his life.

 

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.

Accident claims made by and against police increase

Industry news roundup: week ended 27 Oct 2014:

When it comes to accident claims, those made both by police personnel and made against them seem to be on the increase, though this isn’t universal.

In fact, one female officer made a personal injury compensation claim against a shipyard welder that works down at Falmouth Docks after she ended up pushed to the ground by him during an altercation. PC Anna Fielding broke her pelvis after the man shoved her to the ground, leaving her in pain for months just because she was trying to do her job.

Fielding had waded into a group of people to break up an argument, but the welder decided he was having nothing of it and knocked her to the ground. He even admitted so much in court, earning him more than just a slap on the wrist: the brutish bloke ended up getting four months in jail, a two year suspension, 120 hours worth of unpaid work, and was ordered to pay court costs and compensation of £840. If you ask me, this bastard got off quite easy for the severity of his actions.

I don’t know what causes people to behave in such an awful manner. Sure, not everyone likes the police – especially when they get pulled over for speeding or something similar – but these poor people have to wade into all sorts of situations and put themselves in harm’s way. You don’t become a police officer because you want the money, you know. It’s a calling, and you need to be a particular type of person to stand on that thin blue line.

There are some good examples of cops all the time, as well. Don’t believe me? Look at PC Dave Stubbs from Cheadle – he ended up breaking his wrist whilst taking down someone suspected of drink driving, but he declined to make a personal injury claim for the incident. The bloke took a week off from work before going back to light duties, and he says he would have never even thought of making a work accident claim against Staffordshire Police.

The stalwart bobby says that there’s simply no way the force could be faulted for his injuries. It happened in the line of duty, he added, and while he’s never taken a day off work in his entire career as a PC the force has been highly supportive of PC Stubbs. He says that it’s not just him, either; he was clear in saying most officers he knows wouldn’t ever think of claiming against their own force in the event of an injury.

Lincolnshire racks up huge personal injury compensation bill

Industry news roundup: week ended 30 Oct 2014:

So here’s one news story that will make your head spin: there was more than $150,000 spent on pothole-related personal injury compensation in Lincolnshire.

No, that’s not a figure I made up right here on the spot – it’s true. A new freedom of information request revealed that in 2013 Lincolnshire council shelled out $157,266 on pothole-related accident claims. Even worse is that the local authority spent nearly as much last year at £133,015!

Lincolnshire was already reeling after Britannia Rescue dubbed it the pothole capital of the UK in 2013. However it seems that the problem is still raging, and raging hard – and the problem will likely continue to snowball according to Councillor Richard Davies.

Davies, the highways executive member for the county, says that the council obviously wants to prevent potholes. The local authority has no choice but to pay out when it’s liable though, and Davies says that the condition of Lincolnshire roads are so abysmal due to generations of under-investment that have left local roads looking in terrible shape.

The massive payouts weren’t just for damage done to vehicles, either – plenty of personal injury compensation cases were heard after pedestrians slipped and tripped on the craggy lunar landscape that Lincolnshire has been passing off as roads and pavement. With winter rapidly approaching, these potholes are just going to get worse; the council has struggled to get enough funding to fill them in, even with the £5.5 million in matched funds from the Government.

Honestly this is just a massive mess waiting to happen. I know that Lincolnshire is running out of cash faster than a university student with no money flees Amsterdam’s red light district, but something’s got to be done about this don’t you think? It’s bloody ridiculous that it’s become so unsafe to drive through or even walk about in the county.  Not to mention the maddening costs that these accident claims are having on local residents; lest we forget that it’s taxpayer funds that end up being spent not just on plugging these seemingly unending stream of potholes but also ends up being spent on personal injury lawyers to represent the council in court. Legal fees aren’t cheap, and with every penny spent on lawsuits that’s one less spent on filling potholes!

Car insurance scammers being caught left and right

Industry news roundup: week ended 13 Oct 2014:

Fraudsters trying to run scams on car insurance companies are being caught left and right at the moment, which should hopefully keep motoring costs down.

Nobody likes the idea of freeloaders faking accidents in order to get big payouts from car accident claims, but it’s been going on for years. Insurance scams are awful for everyone, as with each bogus personal injury compensation payout that leaves the coffers of insurers we all have to foot the bill in the form of hiked insurance premiums, and I for one am tired of it. That’s what makes stories recounting how scammers and fraudsters are caught so brilliant and entertaining to me.

The news was absolutely filled with them this week, and I was just chuffed to bits to read each one. One of my favourites recounts how a fraudster who tried to walk off with £75,000 from a whiplash claim got shut down hard after dashcam footage from the lorry he cut off exposed his scam to the public – and saw his ill-gotten gains go up in smoke.

Now I’m not one for invasive surveillance but I’m all for these whole dashboard-mounted cameras. If they were fitted to every lorry and HGV on British roadways the amount of of insurance fraud in the UK would surely go down, and with fewer personal injury claims being paid out by the nation’s insurers I’d like to think that insurance rates for everyone would drop like a stone. Meanwhile I’m also happy to hear that bogus accident claims made by fraudsters on foot are also being looked into as well; the Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department of the London Police just announced it had nicked 11 scammers that had possibly been trumping up claims in the wake of bogus ‘slip and trip’ injuries.

I’m absolutely gratified to hear how so many people are being caught red-handed. These thick pillocks need to be taken down a peg if you ask me, and I’m glad that it’s happening in a very public way that I can only hope will result in massive fines and more than just a bit of jail time for all the individuals involved. My hat’sa off to the IFED for tirelessly dragging these bastards out into the light of day where they can be disposed of properly.

Too many injured are going without compensation

Industry news roundup: week ended 6 Oct 2014:

When it comes to claiming personal injury compensation, it seems like all too many Brits are being denied access to justice – and that’s a serious problem.

It’s not just me who thinks there’s an issue, either – major organisations have had it with hearing reports about how people in dire need of compensation are being denied on accident claims. One such group, Motorcycle Law Scotland, recently spoke out on the issue, with founder Brenda Mitchell saying that insurers need to stop trying to sweep legitimately injured people under the rug because they don’t want to pay out on claims.

These insurance companies are treating injured individuals in an inhumane manner, Ms Mitchell claims, especially when it comes to whiplash claims. While it’s true that claims fraud can be a problem – and that whiplash is a favourite of fraudsters due to the difficulties associated with disproving whiplash – there’s simply too many people with real claims being left out in the dark, the group’s founder added.

For what it’s worth this is a definite problem facing the personal injury claims industry at the moment, but I’m unsure what types of steps can be taken to rectify it short of forcing insurers to take these sorts of claims more seriously. Still, it could be worse for many claimants, much as it has become for one Army veteran: his story will most likely get you hopping mad.

Former corporal Jason Wilkes, who was caught in a suicide bombing whilst serving in Iraq, has become so disillusioned with the way his own government has been mistreating him. The Army has left him out to dry despite the injuries he received in the attack, which include not just burns and shrapnel wounds but also a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder diagnosis as well.

Wilkes has been desperate to get treatment and compensation, especially for his PTSD in the wake of his injuries. Still, Army medical evaluations have been reluctant to help him; it took until 2012 before his PTSD diagnosis was confirmed, despite the fact that the incident that led to him developing it was in 2006. The poor man has been so incensed by his treatment that he’s handed his Armed Forces Veterans Badge in to Easington MP Graham Morris, telling him to pass it along to Defence Minister Anna Soubry.

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?