Claims almost halved with VW’s Autonomous Braking System

Isn’t it ironic? The car that, in part, owes its fame for almost crushing a presenter today leads the way in road safety.

Autonomous emergency brakes now found on the once low-flying Golf are almost halving accident claims. Both it and the Passat have the sensory braking system, along with adaptive cruise control.

It’s these attributes that Thatcham Research believes is behind the respective models involvement in 45% less accident claims in their control group than similar makes and models.

VW Golf: still setting precedents after 35 years

Back in 1979, the VW Golf Mk I TV advertising campaign caused a marketing storm. Out of nowhere, a red model dropped from above the camera shot and landed next to the commercial’s presenter. It was ground-breaking at the time (but I guess you had to be there ☺).

The effect was used to demonstrate the car’s suspension and sound structure. It proved a savvy move by VW’s German owners, who’d moved manufacture to Japan. Motors like the Nissan and Datsun previously exported from Japan were synonymous with rusting bodywork.

The advert worked like a charm. In it, a red Golf Mk I dropped into the shot, hit the floor and then bounced just a little, like an Olympic gymnast steadying their balance on landing off the vault.

Then, the non-plussed presenter, whom the car had nearly squished, simply turned, walked to the driverside door, got in, started it up first time and drove that same car off the set. A legend was born.

Congestion relief + reduced claims = a brighter, sooner future

It looks like VW are about to set another precedent with their autonomous braking system, too. Insurance claims have almost halved involving cars that have the system fitted.

The results have surprised almost everyone. Previous predictions suggested the braking system would achieve a drop in claims by only half the amount it has in reality.

It’s not as if the test group for the Mk VI Golf wasn’t sizeable. Once the initial sample group exceeded initial expectations, it was doubled to make absolutely sure.

Thatcham’s Matthew Avery related that some 7,000 Golf’s, all insured and clocking up mileage for a full year, were used in total. Feedback from its membership of insurers supports the 45% reduction claim.

The system itself has double-monitoring capabilities, too. A sensor on the front of the VW monitors both speed and distance of the car in front. On the side of the vehicle, there are radars. These help detect motion, thus steering the vehicle clear of pedestrians and bicycles.

All of this data is then fed back to the driver’s console, which instigates “Adaptive Cruise Control”. So, yes, the driver is in control of the gearbox, but the car applies the brakes if anything comes too close either in front or from the side.

How close are we to driverless cars becoming a reality?

On top of this breakthrough, there’s also ongoing research into the impact driverless cars could have on congestion. The motor, safety and insurance industries are now all watching Google and others’ developments in this arena.

Before this technology was introduced mainstream in 2013, driverless cars remained very much in the sci-fi realm. Many manufacturers had built protoypes, of sorts going back as far as the 1920s.

But the JohnnyCabs of Total Recall fame are now very much on the commercial cards, thanks to companies like VW, Google and Uber. But without the sarcasm, one would hope.

The claims that congestion could be cut by 90% with the introduction of ‘taxibots’ are now being taken seriously.

Lisbon’s traffic, for example, has already been analysed using the most extreme set of data. If each taxibot carried only one person per single journey, congestion in the Portuguese capital would drop by more than three quarters.

Assuming that many journeys would accommodate more than one passenger, that figure could reduce even further.

As technology develops and thought processing (human and machine) accelerates, we reach new milestones quicker. Given the Golf’s remarkable results, there are calls for all cars to come with autonomous brakes.

If those calls are heeded, it would mean fewer injury claims. Plus insurance premiums would, as a consequence, lower across the board. At the speed we’re going, that could well happen sooner rather than later.

Rehabilitation takes centre stage at APIL conference

Compensation is often not the primary goal of personal injury lawyers. While justice lies at the heart of claims, there’s another oft-overlooked element of equal import: rehabilitation.

In the cases of serious injury, all the compensation in the world won’t matter if it doesn’t have the desired effect. Namely, enabling the victim to live as close to a normal life as possible post-injury.

Simon Weston rouses the troops with heartfelt keynote

At the recent APIL conference, rehab was a recurring theme. The tone was set by Falklands vet Simon Weston’s keynote. His life-threatening injuries have become a symbolic icon of what can be achieved if the right treatment is applied.

The crux of Simon’s speech was a rousing call to provide more rehabilitation for injury victims. Access is critical and he’s on a crusade to get rehab units in every hospital.

Towards the end of April, the armed forces once again brought the importance of aftercare to the fore.

5 years for compensation for Soldier shot in training

Stewarts Law were instructed to act on behalf Dale Messenger, who’d suffered a catastrophic personal injury at work.

Much like Simon’s, the impact dealt a life-changing blow. His regiment were training on the Falklands with live ammo. During the course of the exercise, another soldier shot Dale in the hip.

So forceful was the round, it entered his his body at the right hip and exited through the left. Dale eventually won his case against the MoD, who no doubt did everything they could to assist with Messenger’s recuperation.

His award was over half a million pounds, which included the costs of a new Ekso exoskeleton. The payout also covered rehab kit, during rehab and to cover his impacted lifetime.

Rehab for all, sooner rather than later

But this is where Simon’s call for more rehab centres in more hospitals really hits home. Dale’s training accident in the Falklands happened in October 2009. The amount of compensation wasn’t agreed until September 2014, almost five years after the event.

Whilst both Simon and Dale’s life-shattering injuries happened in the South Atlantic, there is a key difference. Simon received his injuries in the heat of combat when the Sir Galahad was destroyed in Port Pleasant in 1982 towards the end of the Falklands War.

Dale Messenger’s spinal cord injury, which has rendered him paralysed, occurred in peace time.

Besides Simon’s speech at the APIL conference, two other key elements in revised rehab guidelines surfaced. Or rather, resurfaced.

New guidelines lay the foundation for swifter action

A new code of conduct for serious injury cases will soon be a signed, sealed document. The pilot of these guidelines ran for five years between 2008-2102.

The revised guidelines will encourage insurance companies to fund rehab much earlier than they currently do. It also addresses claimants’ concerns about open lines of communication. With the process taking so long, the trail can go cold. Once the new code is operative, they’ll have access to more information and earlier in the process.

The other major news is concerns the voluntary rehab code, with its guidelines getting a makeover, too. This document still needs work, with both injury lawyers and insurers finding contendable points.

Those privvy to the work in progress code believe it to be too insurer centric. For their part, insurers are concerned about the relationship between law firms and those who ultimately carry out the rehabilitation work itself.

As it will be the insurance company picking up the bill, they’re worried about the level of rehab practitioners administer to victims. Like whiplash, they don’t want the new code to be a license to print money.

When all’s said and done, compensation is about getting injury victims back on track. It’s not all about “how much will I get?”, it’s about “how effective is it at getting me my life back?”

Simon Weston is as good an example as you’ll find. What you see on the surface may be evidence enough of catastrophic injury. But it’s beneath the surface where the real damage needs addressing. That’s one problem money can’t solve, but specialist rehab can.

Internet-based stress management tools taking the PSS out of employees

Is it just me, or was stress something that the Americans developed in the 70s?

Us Brits have been anxious for centuries, but the US seemed to find a way of apportioning blame for the condition when arguably a stiff upper lip, a shrug and an acceptance that ‘That’s Life’ could have simplified matters for many.

Not that personal injury solicitors or psychotherapists will condone that statement, of course.

Where there’s blame, that’s a wallet ready to compensate for it. Nowhere moreso than in the workplace.

However, new research undertaken by Cleveland Clinic – no, it’s not in Stoolbend – suggests that putting potentially stressed staff through its paces with a web-based stress management tool may cut down on long-term absences associated with the condition.

Absenteeism not a major chagrin for either a stressed out employee or their employer.

The ice becomes thin when stress has a contributory factor (allegedly) to a knock-on symptom, especially when it becomes life-threatening and it’s proven that the anxiety is indeed work-related.

It’s then that personal injury claims are launched, with the solicitors knowing full well that as long as they can support the claim, the case is in the bag.

Employers need a hand, a tool to at least put them on a level playing field with these extremely knowledgeable injury lawyers, to help protect themselves against stress that may, in the end, not be caused by anything directly occurring in the workplace.

With the development of online programs to combat PSS (Perceived Stress Scale – wouldn’t it have been good if they’d fitted an ‘irrational’ in there before ‘Stress’, too?), it looks like employers at least stand a chance against personal injury claims if they can afford the time to put their employees through the program.

Candidates for study had his PSS rates to begin with

The three hundred employees who were the guinea pigs for the Cleveland Clinic study each had their PSS measured at the beginning of the eight week course. Their stress score, if you will.

During the almost two months of being subjected to meditation techniques, strategem for coping with stressful situations and the ability to self-asses their stress levels, stress levels were reduced.

At the outset, the mean stress score was just above 23 per employee. The people chosen were prime for the PSS course as your average Joe runs at around with stress levels of 13, in comparison.

After forty days with relaxation methods at hand, that score of those at the mercy of executive stress did see their scores drop, on average, by 6.12 full points, bringing their stress levels down to within what was deemed an acceptable level compared to those not exposed to potential heart-stopping stressful moments on a daily basis.

Personal injury solicitors know when stress is liable to become distress

On reflection, you have to say that outcome is, for employers, a result. Stress, if left unchecked, can build up all sorts of internal conditions like blood pressure, premature ageing and irrationality (see, I could have slipped into the acronym quite naturally) as well as mental issues.

It’s when stress peaks and one’s body struggles to cope that is costing industry millions of dollars each year in both absenteeism and money personal injury solicitors manage to extract from employers who subject their staff to situations detrimental to their health.

It may also mean that employers, as well as being able to say in a court room or tribunal that they did everything in their power to relieve potential stress, save on healthcare costs by implementing strategies like PSS.

You’d have to think that GE, who funded the Cleveland Clinic research in an attempt to see what it could do to reduce lost days of production and no doubt several thousands in the claims courts, is pretty pleased with the outcome.

How much help with stress do you get at work?

In all seriousness, offering employees ways to deal with anxious moments whilst at their desktop sounds like a winner, especially for large firms like GE whose compensation bill, one would imagine, is pretty horrendous.

For smaller firms, who perhaps have neither the budget nor manpower to administer PSS, having a stress-free office may be nothing more than PSSing into the wind.

However, if you are interested, an overview of the program developed by Cleveland Clinic is available here as a pdf, entitles Stress Free Now:

Stress Free Now Flyer – So employers can take the PSS out of their employees by Jason Darrell

What is the time limitation for personal injury claims?

In most circumstances, there is a limit on the amount of time available to you to claim personal injury. To confuse matters, this time frame can often be misinterpreted thanks to the plethora of ads asking if you’ve had an injury in the last six years.

The extended qualifying period to which the ads refer is different from the window you have for an accident and emergency claim in so much as special circumstances can apply to any claim.

However, in the UK, the accepted time limitation for making a personal injury claim is three years; beyond that, there has to be very good reason for the duration between accident and claim itself.

Again, let’s not confuse that statement. The case doesn’t have to be resolved within three years. You only need to have begun the personal injury process to avoid statute- or time-barred claims.

Other reasons for claiming personal injury within three years

Many claims begin at work and in a case where liability is not cut and dried, responsibility has to be ascertained.  This is often supported by testimonials of co-workers.

In the fluid job market we see today, it’s prudent to strike whilst the iron’s hot and the events leading up to your accident are fresh in the mind of all concerned.

It would be disheartening if you left a claim so late that none of the employees you were counting on to back you up in court worked at the company any longer.

Furthermore, the whole personal injury claims procedure can take a long while, especially if the case is in depth and calls on many witnesses.

You want proceedings resolving sooner rather than later so that you and those involved can get on with their lives.

Another factor is, of course, the best personal injury lawyers don’t come cheap; not all personal injury solicitors offer no-win, no-fee guarantees..

Long cases can be energy-sapping, especially when the injuries suffered by the plaintiff are severe and have consequences greater than assessing a simple compensation payout for inconvenience.

Exceptions to the three year time limitation rule

There are exceptions to the rule and the three year time limitation for personal injury claims applies even if your diagnosis doesn’t come until much further down the road.

However, claims courts do appreciate that some symptoms may not materialise instantly.

Two typical examples spring to mind. Asbestos poisoning can take years to show itself as a symptom that could be linked back to a job that had mass exposure to the banned substance.

Deafness and skin conditions can also take time to progress to the extent that they’re classed as a personal injury.

In such cases, you have three years from the date of diagnosis rather than the cause or accident itself to begin the personal injury process.

What happens in the event of death or a criminal attack?

In the instance of death caused by personal injury, again, we have a similar qualifying period of three years.

However, these three years can last from either the date the claimant dies or when the condition is discovered in post mortem examinations.

If, on the other hand, a personal injury claim has already begun and the claimant passes away, the clock is set back to zero.

The family of the deceased then has three years to build a stronger case, the outcome obviously being much more traumatic than a common or garden accident at work.

For personal injury claims that are caused through malice, intent or as a result of an attack, the limit is a strict two years and would, in any case, be dealt with by CICA, not a regular personal injury claims court.

The last and simplest reason that you should start your personal injury claim today is this: the sooner your claim begins, the sooner you get your hands on the compensation to which you’re legally entitled.

Why not try out our current top ten personal injury solicitors who’ll tell you immediately whether you have a claim or not?

Personal injury solicitors charging ‘unacceptable’ fees?

Personal injury solicitors in the UK are charging legal fees that are unacceptable, unsustainable, and unaffordable, according to the Association of British Insurers, who claims consumers in the UK have to pay the equivalent of £1,666 every minute due to court costs associated with personal injury claims.

These fees are paid by Brits through their motor insurance premiums, claims the ABI, as insurers that settle low-value personal injury compensation claims need to pass along these costs, which top £2.4 million a day, along to their customers.  Not only that, compensation payments are often dwarfed by legal costs, such as one 2010 claim was comprised of fees that were 142 per cent of the total compensation given to the injured claimants.

Other examples include another recent claim where a personal injury at work led to a compensation payment of £12,750 for the injured employee, yet legal fees topped £74,000 after everything was said and done.  Another case included a £37,250 in legal bills for a £15,000 compensation claim for a woman who had injured herself after a fall sent her into a castle moat.

The NHS also recently reported that their legal costs rose by 5 per cent between 2004 and 2011.  However, legal costs incurred by claimants against the NHS – which are paid by the authority if they are found liable for a claim – have gone up by 130 per cent in the same period of time.

The head of the ABI’s liability and motor insurance divisons, James Dalton, recently spoke out on the issue, stating that the Government needs to take steps to reform the compensation system in the UK.  Solicitor fees need to be brought down to more manageable levels, Mr Dalton said, as lowering these legal fees will result in cost decreases for insurance customers.

Personal injury solicitors win big for professional cyclist

Personal injury solicitors in the UK recently recorded a record-breaking win for an injured professional cyclist, managing to win the biggest compensation payout ever won in the UK on his behalf.

The victim, who had retained the services of an accident solicitor after becoming severely injured by a collision with a car, was an experienced cyclist, having ridden previous to his 1998 training ride accident in the Commonwealth Games.

The cyclist’s personal injury claims were varied, as he was injured severely in the collision to the extent that his right arm was rendered completely useless in addition to suffering from double vision constantly to the point where he was registered as having partial blindness.  The cyclist is also in need of constant round-the-clock care as well as a result from his injuries.

In what has become a record-breaking case, the the 39-year-old man has been the recipient of a £14 million award, never before seen in the world of personal injury compensation in the UK.

The cyclist, who in the wake of his accident was left without the ability to drive, cycle, or work, was initially awarded a £9 million compensation figure, which through an appeals process has led to the increased £14 million figure.

Both the cyclist’s partner and mother, who together have been looking after the accident victim, have had no recourse but to give up work in order to provided the round-the-clock care he now needs in order to function.

The previous record holder in regards to the biggest UK personal injury claim, an instance where a victim suffered paralysis in the wake of a car accident in which he was a passenger, was for a sum total of £11.15 million.