Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 16 Apr 2013:
Progress towards changing the way personal injury claims are made is being made across the UK, with new legal developments occurring from London to Scotland.
Ministers in the Commons are girding their loins for battle against the so-called ‘compensation culture’ in the UK, with legal reforms concerning personal injury claims originating from work accidents being on the table. Of course not everyone believes that overhauling these laws is necessarily a good idea, as personal injury solicitor experts and the House of Lords alike agree that the enterprise bill’s legal reforms will do nothing but shift the balance of power too far towards employers and make it much more difficult for workers to make work accident claims.
Shifting the burden of proof will only make it necessary for injured victims to prove negligence on the part of their employers, said former supreme court justice Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood. The current law – which dates back to 1974 – only requires an injured worker to prove that a health and safety violation had taken place, and that violation led to his or her injury; reforming the law to make a worker have to prove hat their employee knew or should have known that there were defects in their workplaces or systems of work places an unfair burden on an already injured employee – and besides, why in the world do we have a Health and Safety Executive if not to handle problems of this magnitude?
So that wasn’t exactly good news, but hopefully the Commons won’t do anything stupid and push for these reforms anyway. And if you believe that, as the Americans say, I have a bridge to sell you!
Still there was some good news, as a lobbyist group in Scotland is pushing hard to bring strict liability into the country’s civil law, as doing so will speed up personal injury compensation payments made to cyclists that suffered injury or that lost their lives in road traffic accidents. Cycle Law Scotland says that instituting strict liability in Scotland would shift the burden of proof to the drivers of vehicles to prove that a cyclist or a pedestrian – really, anyone in a position that has them in a vulnerable state in comparison to a two-tonne vehicle – was acting in a negligent manner.
This would differ from the current arrangement where the fault-based system requires injured pedestrians or cyclists to prove fault on the part of a vehicle driver. If you ask me, this makes an excellent counterpoint to the possible reforms to work accident law, as London is going in one direction – handing power back to those already in control, whereas Scotland could see power being handed to those who need it the most: those already at a disadvantage,