And you thought that your childhood was dangerous!

Industry news roundup: week ended 13 Jan 2014:

Few of us emerged from our own childhoods unscathed, earning a few sticking plasters over skinned knees, but children today seem much more accident prone!

Do you think children are more fragile than they were a generation ago? Perhaps your answer really isn’t important, as new figures released this week declared that the last five years has seen £3.3 million paid out in personal injury compensation for Manchester, Birmingham and London-based schoolchildren.

As shocking as these figures are, there’s an even more frightening truth hidden behind the scenes. The study only examined these three cities and say nothing of the other accident claims in other regions. Taxpayers could collectively be out tens or even hundreds of millions over the same period of time.

So that’s rather awful to think about, isn’t it? Well it could be worse – you could have been involved in a personal injury claim that left you with enough damage to warrant a £5 million payout even after contributory negligence reduced your award by as much as 25 per cent – that’s some substantial head injury!

Not exactly the best experience to have, I suppose – but that’s exactly what happened recently to a woman from Northern Ireland in the wake of the kind of car accident. She suffered enough head trauma to leave here with serious problems making thinking and decision making difficult enough to require constant supervision – and this as unfortunately even after the woman was found to be slightly responsible for her own injuries because she hadn’t been wearing her seat belt.

Well, let that be a lesson to you – something that most of us do without a moment’s thought can lead to the kind of life-altering damage that could all too easily have been avoided if you had simply worn your damned seat belt. Of course this is something that most children learn in primary school, but nowadays perhaps it’s much too dangerous in British schools to teach children anything besides how to duck and cover – and how to ring up a personal injury solicitor.

Engineering firms neglect the safety of their employees

Industry news roundup: week ended 9 Sept 2013:

There are some serious accident claims brewing at not one but two engineering firms thanks to recent injuries suffered by their workers.

First up, an unnamed civil engineering worker was nearly backed over by a tipper truck, leaving him with such serious leg injuries that he needed to be taken to hospital by air ambulance. The poor bastard was off work for seven weeks or so as doctors endeavoured to repair a severed artery and several other injuries, including a massive puncture wound and a seriously damaged thigh muscle.

The Health and Safety Executive just finished prosecuting the man’s employer this month, and not the Swindon-based firm has to face fines of £10,000 for not setting better safety practices in place. This is of course on top of whatever personal injury compensation award the injured man wins from his employer – and heaven knows he’s going to be getting quite a bit of cash as long as he’s got a good personal injury solicitor team working for him.

Meanwhile another engineering firm – this one based in Jarrow – just got slapped with another fine from the HSE after one of the company’s workers mangled his hand quite badly in the inner workings of the manual lathe he was operating. The injured worker in question – 19 year old Jarrow native Jack Ward – dislocated one of his knuckles and broke his finger so badly that it required pins and wires to set it properly.

To this day Mr Ward still hasn’t regained full use of his hand. In fact he’ll need at least one more surgery to correct the problem, and all because his employer couldn’t be arsed to make sure its workers were trained properly or given proper safety guidelines.

Honestly I hope that Mr Ward hires the biggest, meanest personal solicitor injury team he can find and that he drains his employers absolutely dry. There’s no excuse for not looking after your own workers, and his employer definitely needs to be taught a lesson about taking care of its own – and I don’t mean just a slap on the wrist and a nominal fine from the Health and Safety Executive – no, he deserves to walk away with a big, fat personal injury compensation award for all his pain and suffering.

I’ve just got no patience for employers like that. I hope Mr Ward ends up getting that last surgery he needs to help him regain some more regular feeling and function in his poor abused hand.

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to go off to work in the morning

Industry news roundup: week ended 29 July 2013:

Everyone’s had days where they would rather stay in bed instead of going to work, as these two blokes that got injured on the job recently can attest to.

First up the unfortunate tale of a very unlucky brewery worker that ended up a few fingers short after a run-in with a faulty grain dust extractor. The poor man had been busy trying to clear a blockage on the extractor by hand, but as he reached deep into the machine’s chute the rotary valve inside made short work of his index and middle fingers.

Poor bastard needed five surgeries to repair his hand. On top of that, the Health and Safety Executive found out that the brewery’s owners, Hall & Woodhouse Ltd, had somehow neglected to place any arrangements in place for employees to clean out the piece of machinery besides, you know, sticking your hand in.

I swear it’s like employers have their heads up their arses when it comes to employee safety. This poor man should get the biggest, meanest personal injury solicitor he can find and he should sue the pants off his employer; I’ll wager that will be the last time that brewery looks at safety issues the same way!

Meanwhile, this isn’t just an isolated incident. Another story I read recently recounted how another food industry worker – this time the health and safety manager for a Lincolnshire frozen potato product manufacturer, ironically enough – ended up showered with scalding hot 160-degree oil because he inadvertently knocked into a pipe as he was keeping an eye on an unrelated procedure.

62 year old Harvey Hopwood, an employee of PAS (Grantham) Ltd, was simply making sure the lads were jet washing the facility’s oil storage tank properly when the incident occurred, which left him with 10 per cent burns over his upper body. Poor Mr Hopwood was laid up for a month before eventually having to leave the company due to his injuries, which occurred because the pressure valve of the pipe he came into contact with fell right off.

This is another case where I hope Mr Hopwood has a very aggressive injury solicitor working for him. I can’t imagine the pain, suffering, and indignity of having to be showered with boiling hot oil because my employer is too lazy to ensure that all the pressure valves at their facility are secure and working properly!

Think your injury is bad? At least you can still send texts

Industry news roundup: week ended 24 June 2013:

Never mind that some poor bloke was nearly crushed to death and only ended up with £70,000 – one worker wants £150,000 because he can’t send texts anymore.

I had really thought I’d seen, heard, and read everything when it comes to personal injury claims, but I was so very wrong; this week, I found out about one man that is so upset at no longer being able to send texts on his mobile that he’s looking for £150,000 in personal injury compensation! Meanwhile, even as I read this ridiculous bit of news I was struck at the difference between him and another person who nearly died in a terrible personal injury at work, but only received £70,000 in damages, and I can only conclude that the world has gone absolutely mad.

Isaak Alpman, an IT specialist, says he tumbled down a flight of stairs while at work and sustained what his personal injury solicitors called ‘personal injuries,’ whatever in the world that means. Somewhere along the way he did something to his right index finger that rendered him unable to send texts or use other sorts of items that he usually does for work, so now he wants massive sums of cash because the stairwell was unsafe.

Listen, I’m not about to say that anyone wasn’t terribly injured or not – I wasn’t there and I can’t say for sure what happened. But £150,000 for a crooked finger seems more than a bit mad to me – especially when other people have received much less for injuries much more severe – like when a metal cutting tool weighing well over a tunne landed atop an engineer so spectacularly that onlookers thought he had been instantly crushed to death!

David Hynds found himself trapped between the floor and a girder support when the massive tool fell 13 feet to the ground below, sustaining life-threatening fractures to his vertebrae. Unbelievably it just took five minutes for the 52 year old man to extricate himself safely from his position, and he was left with some quite severe and long-lasting injuries.

Mr Hynds, who is undoubtedly a very lucky man to have escaped with his life – considering how one of his colleauges was convinced Mr Hynds had been slain instantly in the accident as he observed it –  found that since the accident he had both enough physical pain and post-traumatic stress that he simply could not return to work in any sort of reliable capacity. As a result he brought a compensation claim against his employers and received a £70,000 compensation package for his trouble.

In other words, one man gets a one-tonne weight dropped on him and is satisfied with only £70,000, so where does another man get off with asking for £150,000 for a crooked finger?

Damages awards set to increase next year by 10 per cent

Judges say that personal injury compensation awards will be increasing by 10 per cent from 2013 in part of an effort to make it less expensive for defendants to lose personal injury claims.

At first blush this seems mad – why raise the damages awards for claimants as a way to reduce costs to insurers or institutions like the NHS? Well, it’s just one side of the coin; the other side will be an end to the custom of having losing defendants paying the ‘success fees’ and legal costs for the winning side’s personal injury solicitors.

Thanks to the new Legal Aid Act that was signed into law this year, this practice comes to an end on 1 April of next year. Now winning claimants will pay their own lawyers’ legal fees out of their compensation awards, which is why the damages awards are being increased by 10 per cent in order to keep up with the change.

The practice could lead to millions being saved in the car insurance industry, as successful car accident claims can generate massive legal costs in addition to any compensation payment directly awarded to a claimant. Medical negligence cases are likely to become less expensive overall as well, as the NHS was in the same rapidly-sinking boat that insurers were prior to the law.

The new change will also lead to fewer spurious claims being brought in the UK, as claimants now no longer claim the entirety of their award on a successful claim and lawyers will not be able to charge exorbitant legal costs – success fees are also capped at 25 per cent of the usual costs, unlike the current 100 per cent fees charged to losing defendants now.

No compensation for tennis player wearing ‘wrong’ shoes

The Court of Session has recently dashed the personal injury compensation hopes of one man who tripped and fell while playing tennis because he was wearing the ‘wrong’ shoes, it was recently reported.

Terence Connelly fell during a game of tennis at the David Lloyd club, based in Renfrew, over a decade ago, suffering severe arm injuries. Mr Connelly blamed his fall on both the carpeted court he was playing on and the rib-soled tennis shoes he was wearing at the time of the accident, which occurred in 2001.

For the last eight years, Mr Connelly has been attempting to make accident claims against Whitbread PLC, the owner of the club, on the grounds that the club should have known that players wearing anything but smooth-soled shoes faced a very real risk of injury by doing so. However, the three-judge Court of Session, comprised of Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Philip, and Lord Bonomy, said that the injured man hasn’t got a leg to stand on, as there was no way for the club owner to foresee such an accident, upholding the decision of Paisley Sheriff Court to dismiss the case in March of 2009.

Mr Connelly’s injuries came from an incident that occurred in late October of 2001, when he and a friend had been playing tennis at the club. While there was indeed a sign near the tennis court which informed players should not play without wearing proper footwear, the sign did not specifically state which type of shoes would be ideal. The injured man, who ha no experience with playing on such a specialised carpeted surface before that day, had been wearing rib-soled tennis shoes, which led his feet to ‘stick’ as he was playing the match, causing him to fall heavily on his arm after his foot jarred suddenly to a halt and catching him by surprise.

Personal injury solicitors consider external investment

One of the top 100 personal injury solicitor firms in the UK is considering external investment in the face of new regulations making it easier for legal firms to use external investors to raise capital, industry experts have recently reported.

Personal injury claims specialists Keoghs is understood to have attracted interest from LDC, a mid-market buyout firm, one source has said.  However, both LDC and Keoghs have declined the opportunity to comment on the news.

There are many private equity firms on the lookout for investment opportunities in the accident claim sector, such as mid-market companies as Palamon Capital Partners, Duke Street, and Lyceum Capital.  Legal firms will be cleared to go on the hunt for external shareholders in 2012 due to the Legal Services Act going into effect that year, with many in the profession referring to it as a ‘Big Bang’ for the industry.

A move on Keoghs’ part would be proof of larger law firms growing comfortable with the new changes, as the top end of the legal professional market have by and large gone on record to reject them.  Irwin Mitchell, a top 20 law firm, has so far been the largest to declare interest in availing themselves of the Act’s new ‘alternative business structure’ scheme.

Also known for its talented personal injury claims division, the firm has announced its financial adviser as Espirito Santo Investment Bank in order to review its possible options in the future. Industry experts have commented that the personal injury sector is especially well suited for the new landscape following the Legal Services Act, as its relative fragmentation creates additional investor opportunity for firm consolidation.