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.

Compensation culture spreads to Northern Ireland

Industry news roundup: week ended 29 Sept 2014:

The so-called “compensation culture” has spread to Northern Ireland with the revelation that PSNI has paid out more than £50 million in just three short years.

A total of £51.8 million has been shelled out to police officers from 2011-12 to 2013-14, new research shows, for a large swathe of work accident claims including broken bones and hearing loss. Other injury claims made include cases related to damage to property, unfair dismissal and discrimination. Still, the lion’s share of these payouts were for personal injury compensation by a wide, wide margin; £49.5 million to be exact.

Does that sound excessive to you? You’re obviously not the only one. Dolores Kelly, SDLP Policing Board member, reported being deeply disturbed by the news of the explosion of payouts over the past few years. It was Kelly who raised the spectre of compensation culture, pointing out that there’s obviously something amiss here.

Now I’m not necessarily one to take the side of the police but I do have to say it might not be entirely their fault. The last few years have seen more than a bit of civil unrest in the region, and there have been some serious rows during parades and things of that nature. Not only that but being a copper isn’t exactly a low-risk job – you’re possibly putting your life on the line every day, even if you’re riding a desk – so it’s not entirely beyond human comprehension that PSNI had such a serious glut of injury compensation cases lately.

On the other hand, though, £51 million is a shedload of cash. Where is all this money coming from if not from taxpayer pockets? And furthermore isn’t PSNI facing serious budget cuts already? What’s going to happen once funding for the police gets slashed? I don’t think anyone here has the bollocks to think that conditions for cops will become better and that injuries will decrease. No, I’m predicting that things will steadily get worse in the region. I don’t think it will get so far as to result in complete societal collapse or something like that, but I do think that there’s gong to have to be some hard questions asked in Westminster about funding and how to handle this ‘compensation culture’ problem in Northern Ireland.

Work accident claims running rampant?

Industry news roundup: week ended 2 June 2014:

Is it just me or does it seem like the nation’s places of work are just getting increasingly unsafe for staff and workers?

I mean it’s been absolutely everywhere in the news this week – work accident claims seem to be on the increase. And no before you go whinging about how it’s ‘compensation culture’ rearing its ugly head, jog on – that’s obviously a myth that’s been put to bed. No, I’m more concerned with the working conditions of regular Brits, especially when it comes to job positions in the public sector.

You want some examples? How about this one – a teacher working for West Sussex County Council ended up having to make a personal injury compensation claim for £23,000 after they slipped in a puddle-filled school corridor and ending up with ligament damage in their ankle and feet. Tory commentators are all up in arms at the high price tag – which admittedly is more than the starting salary of a teacher in the same region – but let’s be honest here; do you really think a local authority is so loose with their cash that they would be willing to just part with some unless it was actually warranted? No local council wants to deprive pupils of taxpayer money but if you’re responsible for a bad injury you’ve got to pay up – it’s only fair.

Meanwhile these costs add up over the years, which makes the situation look just that much worse. Consider how news broke this week that Leicester City Council has ended up forking over almost £2 million in personal injury compensation over the last five years. The statistics make it look bleak, as there was some £700,000 paid out on just over 150 claims over this period of time, with the remainder of the payout going to legal fees and court costs.

Now, stop shouting – five years ago there were much fewer regulations on how much a personal injury lawyer could charge in legal fees. Nowadays with regulations banning things like referral fees and altering how lawyers can recover costs from defendants, that incredibly high legal fee bill falls into a bit of perspective now doesn’t it?

Injury claims a-plenty predicted for two manufacturers

Industry news roundup: week ended 22 July 2013:

Some days it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed: not one but two manufacturers are likely facing costly injury claims after serious work injuries.

It’s gruesome and nobody wants to think about it – especially me – but manufacturing workers are often the recipient of some of the worst incidents of personal injury at work out there. Yes, construction workers often suffer nasty falls from height, and we can’t discount the type of injury an office worker can get if he or she slips and falls on the job, but by and large the worst and most painful injuries often occur to these poor blokes who work in manufacturing roles.

I mean, did you hear the story of Michael Taylor? The man was working for The Paper Pallet Company when his hand was pulled into a laminating machine. If you don’t have any idea what these machines do, they have two massive rollers designed to glue things together, and that’s where Michael’s and and arm ended up getting sucked into.

The poor man’s injuries were absolutely dreadful. In fact it took a total of four surgical procedures to get his hand back into some semblance of working order, and he still needs physiotherapy; even in the face of all that work, his doctors say there’s a good chance he may not regain the full use of his arm even after all that effort.

On top of that, it turns out the laminating machine wasn’t guarded properly, which spells bad, bad news for Michael’s employers. This sets up a situation where Michael can bring a personal injury claim against The Paper Pallet Company, and let’s be honest: he probably deserves every single penny he can get from them.

Meanwhile things aren’t much better in Somerset at the Brothers Drinks Co Ltd manufacturing plant, where another worker ended up arm-deep in yet another machine. This time it was a depalletiser that nearly severed the arm from the 52 year old employee (his name is being withheld from the press); the machine, which features a mechanism that swipes empty bottles from a conveyor on their way to be filled with whatever drink the firm is bottling that day, started up suddenly while the worker was trying to clear a stoppage.

Maybe it’s just me but shouldn’t employers ensure that their machinery doesn’t do that? It’s not too bright to operate unguarded pieces of machinery like that, especially when a work accident claim is going to absolutely ruin a company; perhaps these firms will learn their lesson?

Lib Dems prepare for fight over legal aid bill

The Liberal Democrats are preparing for a fight over the newest iteration of the legal aid bill returning to the Commons tomorrow, as activists, celebrities, and charities have all come together to urge Lib Dem MPs to oppose the bill due to proposed funding cuts that could see too many left with no ability to bring accident claims.

The House of Lords savaged the bill in the last review, forcing 11 amendments into the bill.  Despite the attempts to make personal injury claims available to those who could not afford to do so otherwise, fears that the government will force the bill through and simply ignore the Lords is running high.

Government officials are insistent that the changes need to be made, as legal aid bills for the country have spiraled out of control in both England and Wales.  However, a Law Society-organised campaign called Sound Off For Justice has stated that if the amendments made by the Lords are rejected, the bill will institute serious limitations to the legal aid to be made available for work accident claims involving asbestos-related illness or for domestic violence claimants, while the Children’s Society says that advice or representation will be denied to 6,000 children in cases concerning immigration, welfare, and education.

The Children’s Society’s policy adviser, Ilona Pinter, stated that the Government has a responsibility to recognise that there are fundamental differences between adults and children, and that the UK legal system is simply too complex for children to navigate without the help of legal aid.  Cutting funding will deny these children their access to justice, Ms Pinter added, pointing out that doing so will undermine their human rights in a fundamental way.

David Cameron draws fire for health and safety comments

Prime Minister David Cameron has drawn fire from the personal injury compensation sector for his statements calling health and safety legislation a burden on business in the UK, where he referred to the legislation as ‘an albatross around the neck.’

The Prime Minister said at a recent business summit in Berkshire that entrepreneurs have been left living in fear of speculative work accident claims due to massive court costs and legal fees.  Mr Cameron indicated that he wants 2012 to be the year that this changes, as he wants to eliminate ‘this pointless time-wasting’ from life in the UK permanently.

However, the Personal Injury Lawyers‘ Association’s president, David Bott, countered that he has serious concerns that the Government may be acting too hastily in changing the current system without due levels of concern for those currently involved in accident claims.  Changing the current system would be dangerous in that workers could risk exposure to unnecessary levels of injury-related risk, only to be left in a situation where the legal system would deny them their access to justice, Mr Bott said.

While the Prime Minister has made promises to aid business growth by killing off the ‘damaging health and safety culture’ in the UK, Mr Bott said a better way to do this was not to water down rules put in place to protect workers, but to instill confidence in businesses who take reasonable steps to prevent needless injuries whilst on the job.  Businesses should not spend time in fear of legal costs but instead for the welfare of their staff, the APIL president added.

MoD to pay out personal injury compensation for mesothelioma

According to one recent newspaper article, the Ministry of Defence is poised to pay out a million pounds in personal injury compensation to the families of three workers who suffered fatally from mesothelioma, an asbestos related disease.

According to work accident claims specialists writing for the Mirror newspaper, all three of the victims had come into contact with the deadly airborne fibres whilst they had been growing up at military bases as children.  Mesothelioma, which is incurable, claimed the life of one of the victims at the age of just fifty three – Richard Rouse, who resided in Debden, Essex, at an RAF base.  Mr Rouse was a native of Winchester, in Hants, prior to his death.

Personal injury claims specialists remarked that Mr Rouse had slept next to a radiator as a child that had been covered in asbestos dust.  It was also understood that Mr Rouse would routinely hide in cupboards that contained pipes which had been insulated with asbestos during games of ‘hide and seek’ as a child as well.

The father of two, who enjoyed a long and successful career in the army before retiring at the rank of colonel, was diagnosed with mesothelioma decades after his experiences as a child.  Mesothelioma is an aggressive form of cancer, linked to asbestos exposure, that specifically targets the lining of the lungs.

Mr Rouse succumbed to mesothelioma in 2008.  However, the MoD denied any liability for his ailment – until a High Court hearing decided in favour of Mr Rouse’s widow, Sally, and awarded her a sum of six figures in compenation for her husband’s death.

According to legal experts, Mrs Rouse expressed pleasure that the long, hard-fought battle for compensation had ended in victory for her and her family.  She added that it was the wish of her husband to fight for compensation on his behalf.

Personal injury claims payments down in Ireland

Payments from insurance companies in Ireland for personal injury compensation have been in decline recently.  Ireland’s Injury Board has recently issued a statement that insurers should pass on savings to consumers through the reduction of premiums.

The Injury Board recently released preliminary data for last year that indicated that compensation payouts have dropped by a rate of 13.8 per cent.  However the board also found that the volume of personal injury claims in Ireland had risen by a rate of 9 per cent from 2008 to 2010.

The board stated that the inverse relationship between compensation amounts and accident claims can be attributed to a change in the composition of the claims.  The largest change throughout the past two years had been a drop of 10 per cent in the volume of high-ticket work accident claims in 2010.

Typically low-value claims in the public liability and motor sectors increased by 8 per cent and 6 per cent respectively  However a decline in workplace claims offset these increases.  Additionally the average monetary compensation awarded in 2010 fell by a rate of 4 per cent.

Patricia Byron, chief executive for the board, stated that its aim was to ensure accident victims are compensated fully whilst acting to reduce the costs of claims processing.

Mr Byron stated 2011 would bring savings of up to €205 for every filed claim for insurers.  Additionally the board’s non-adversarial model has already resulted in yearly savings of as much as €100 million.

The Injury Board believes that insurers have a responsibility to pass these benefits on to financially suffering businesses and consumers instead of constantly coming up with excuses to increase premiums, added Ms Byron.

Work accident claims lead to £27 million in awards

Recent figures indicate that work accident claims have led to £27 million in personal injury compensation to workers in the public sector.

Workers who suffer  personal injury claims whilst on the job through no fault of their own are entitled to compensation from their employers.  Compensation from such accident claims is routinely used to cover the costs of medical bills or lost wages.

The Daily Express recently reported that nearly 4,000 work accident claims were brought over the past 12 months. One such claim involved a teacher being awarded £150,000 after her personal injury lawyers demonstrated how badly her throat had been damaged while teaching in her classroom.

The teacher’s classroom was located near a busy courtyard, which required her to raise her voice consistently for an extended period of time.  As a result she not only became extremely hoarse but also developed injuries that required medical treatment at hospital.  Her injuries precluded her from returning to work as she healed.

General secretary for labour union Unison Dave Prentis commented on the situation by stating that employers have a duty of care towards their workers.  When employers fail to meet this duty, their employees and the families of these employees are deserving of compensation for any pain and suffering that may occur, he added.

Personal injury legal proceedings have been in decline over the past three years, according to the Claims Standards Council.  However work accident claims can still be expensive for large-scale employers such as the NHS.  In one such case one man was recently jailed for neglecting to pay his court-ordered compensation.  Despite a judge ruling that the man’s employee was entitled to £6,000 in injury compensation, the employer missed one of the scheduled payments to his former employee.

HSE calls for reduction to work accident claims

The Health and Safety Executive has issued a fresh call to reduce work accident claims in the UK for the coming year.

The regulatory organisation recently issued last year’s injury claims figures.  These figures highlight a reduction to serious personal injury claims versus the figures of the year preceding last.  Additionally these figures show that the number of fatal work accident claims has reached a record low.

Despite this good news, the HSE has warned against complacency.  The organisation instead has urged that more work must be done in order to reduce the number of accident claims further.

In England’s North-West region the 2009-2010 period saw a total of 19 work accident claims occur. For the 2008-2009 year, this is 4 less than the previous total of 23.  Despite this the HSE issued the reminder that 19 accident claims are still too many.  The regulatory authority stated that a reduction to the rate is cold comfort to the family and friends left behind by the fatal accident victims, who are missed terribly.

In further statistical figures the same region reported that workers suffered 3,301 major injuries.  Additionally there were 11,541 injuries which required workers to miss more than three work days in order to recover.  Again these figures were less than the previous year’s totals.  Major injuries for the 2008-2009 period amounted to 3,432, while injuries that resulted in extended work absences were 13,086.

One HSE spokesperson remarked that it was encouraging to see the fall in accident numbers.  Despite this the spokesperson stated that employers have a duty to remain vigilant and to remember that simple measures towards providing safe environments for their workers is something that saves lives.

Many of the UK’s thousands of workers who become injured throughout the course of their duties go on to file work accident claims.