MoD conducts surveillance on injured military personnel

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 27 Jan 2015:

Here’s something that will get your blood boiling: the it’s been revealed that the MoD conducts surveillance on injured military personnel to look for fraud.

This has been going on since 2008, according to some newly released official figures. Almost 100 military personnel that made accident claims for injuries sustained whilst on duty have been spied on over that period of time – with a cost to the taxpayer of around £1,800 each.

Defence Minister Philip Dunne did some major tap-dancing as he defended the practice, remarking that it was only undertaken in public places or on social media networks where the personnel posted public status updates. He said it was only done ‘occasionally,’ and only to make sure that the MoD wasn’t being taken for a ride by people who were trying to get some trumped-up personal injury compensation claim for nonexistent or over-exaggerated injuries.

This is, for lack of a better term, completely and utterly disgraceful if you ask me. For what it’s worth it’s not enough that our poor armed service members have to be shipped off to some horrid place and get shot at for months or even years at a time, only to come home with post traumatic stress disorder and a body riddled with combat injuries only to have their own government suspect that they’re just making up their injury claims? How is this any sort of way to treat combat veterans and the like?

For pity’s sake, these people sacrificed their own health and safety so people like you or I wouldn’t have to. But their bosses quickly stop caring about them once they’re back home and no longer taking bullets for our side. I don’t care if they were in the rear with the gear through two tours of Afghanistan and they ended up tripping over someone’s misplaced combat boots – if they did the time over in those hellish conditions they deserve our respect and our thanks, and most certainly deserve more than a ministry who can’t even be arsed to take these people t their word.

Let this be a lesson to you: never try to cheat the Government, as they simply hate competition.

Another one rides the bus – a fraudster, that is

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 13 Jan 2015:

When it comes to personal injury compensation claims fraud, sometimes all you need to do to find some is to just ride the bus.

Yes I know I’m not making any sense yet, but bear with me: a massive crash for cash accident claims fraud ring has been uncovered in Chester spanning hundreds of claimants. The ring was organised by a John Smith who ran a claims management company known as Swift Accident Solutions, and it involved a whole cadre of bus drivers and passengers that were all in on the action.

Yes, you read that right: even the bloody bus drivers were involved. Can you imagine that? You’re just minding your own business, riding public transport because the doors fell off your Vauxhall Corsa or something similar and your bus ends up in a rear-end shunt that leaves countless passengers clutching the backs of their necks. The words on everyone’s lips are now “whiplash claim,” and it seems a bit suspect to you considering you’re fine but apparently the rest of the passengers have the weakest necks in Britain.

Unbelievable, isn’t it? This Smith decided he had figured out a way to make a killing in the personal injury claims sector by gaming the system and generating staged accidents. Thankfully something like this couldn’t happen as easily today; the incident stems from several years ago, well before the referral fee ban was put into place, and referring possible “claimants” to personal injury solicitors was the main source of Smith’s income.

So yes, thankfully it’s much harder to pull off massive criminal schemes like this in the current regulatory landscape, but that’s not to say there aren’t other enterprising fraudsters and criminals out there trying to scam someone or another out of their hard-earned money. It’s typical of human nature I suppose: you offer someone the normal path to affluence – hard work, et cetera – and hold that up against an easy way to make some cash that could end them up in jail or worse, and altogether too many idiots will take what looks like the “easy” way to fortune. Selfish prigs the lot of them!

Cameraman walks off with compensation after losing a leg

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 6 Jan 2015:

A 52 year old cameraman lost a leg in the wake of an accident and got to walk away with a major personal injury compensation award.

The career cameraman, who had a well-respected career for covering sporting events around the world for ITV, the BBC and other broadcasters, had been in Cannes, France to film a motorcycle race when one motorcyclist came round a bend, lost control, and ploughed into him. The result? Massive personal injury claims made against the insurance company of the motorcycle rider, made even worse that the cameraman had to have his leg amputated after complications to his injury made mending the severe fracture he suffered to his right ankle impossible.

The poor man, who has since been fitted with a prosthetic but can no longer work due to his injuries, says that he’s relieved that he can at least focus on his recovery and rehabilitation thanks to his team of personal injury solicitors going to work for him. The settlement amount the cameraman received is technically ‘undisclosed’ but let’s be honest here: have you ever heard of a compensation award for a motorcycle accident claim, especially one that resulted in an amputation of all things, not be in the tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds? It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if we’re looking at millions in settlement money over a series of annual payments or something similar.

Can you imagine, though? Just doing your job, sitting on the pavement and capturing footage of the motorbikes as they go by, only to have someone career into you and send you to hospital. Then, imagine being told that your injuries are so bad that you’ve got to have your bloody leg amputated – how in the world do you cope with something like that? This cameraman must have some brass bollocks on him to not even be phased by such an experience; I’d be curled up in a ball on the ground and crying like a sad little schoolboy if the same thing happened to me, let me tell you!

Still, that poor man has earned every penny of his compensation. At least now he can get on with his life and have the funds he needs to adapt to his new condition.

Scottish councils pay big thanks to personal injury claims

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 30 Dec 2014:

Over the last five years, Scottish councils have been paying through the nose when it comes to personal injury claims according to brand new data.

Personal injury lawyers in Scotland have been working overtime over the last half a decade, winning something like £15.5 million in compensation awards for claimants. The unbelievably high figure covers a range of bizarre injuries – some claims were for as little as just £1.50 – making me wonder who in the world would even bother for just over a quid’s worth of damages – to a massive £73,000.

According to the data, the lion’s share of the personal injury compensation claims were mostly due to injuries and damage due to potholes or water-related damages. However, there were a number of other issues leading to claims such as wrongful arrests and even violent council employees.

Believe it or not, this massive payout is actually being greeted as a relief by Scottish councils. Why, you may ask? Well it’s not because Scottish councilors are completely barmy – it’s that the figure is actually an improvement However, the figures show an overall decrease in council payouts. How big a decrease? About £3 million, if you can believe it, when compared to the kinds of payouts being made by Scottish local authorities from 2010.

So this is a pretty turn of events indeed if you ask me. For what it’s worth, it’s nice to know that Scottish authorities are gladdened to know that the amount of compensation they’re paying out is going down by a rather reasonable chunk. At the same time, £15.5 million is a shedload of cash – and let’s be honest here, the money that these councils pay out is sourced from taxpayer funds. Sure, technically it’s the insurance companies for the councils that pay out on all these claims, but where do you think the money comes from to pay the incredibly high premiums for all the policies for these councils? We’re not talking pennies here after all. Think about it: your own home insurance rates are probably higher than you’d like to pay, and that’s just one personal residence. Imagine what it costs to insure a school or some other building that a local authority is responsible for!

Massive car accident claim scam uncovered

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 23 Dec 2014:

An absolutely massive car accident claim scam was uncovered recently, with the criminal mastermind behind the fraud sent to prison for his sins.

When it comes to personal injury claims, there’s always some pillock out there who thinks he can get away with murder – well, figuratively anyway. Bashir Zairi from Queen’s Park was one of these brilliant blokes who managed to get away with more than £270,000 in fraudulent personal injury compensation claims money from a ‘crash for cash’ scheme that saw him setting up road traffic accidents to implicate otherwise innocent drivers.

Apparently the 30 year old Zairi decided to target Tesco delivery vans in particular, though heaven knows why; perhaps he figured the firm had plenty of cash to spend, or that he just didn’t like the company. Whatever the reasoning, the man’s luck finally ran out and he was caught – hoisted by his own petard no doubt – and sent to jail for his troubles.

Honestly I’m overjoyed that the bastard was caught. He was absolutely ruining things for the rest of us, and that fraudulent £270,000 that he stole from Tesco’s car insurance company is only going to have to be recovered by the insurer raising its rates for the rest of its customers. It’s one of the biggest problems with fraud when it comes to accident claims, and it drives personal injury solicitors just as mad as it drives insurance firms and regular blokes around the bend. Nobody – and I mean nobody – likes to think they’re being taken advantage of, and with every case of claims fraud that goes uncovered the reputation of countless honest personal injury lawyers becomes even further tarnished.

For what it’s worth, isn’t there enough baseless vitriol directed against the legal profession as it is, especially the personal injury claims sector? Could we just lay the blame where it’s most appropriate, like squarely at the feet of evil, greedy bastards like Bashir Zairi and his ilk? Honestly it’s these types of people that make everyone’s lives harder, don’t you think?

 

Millions in compensation in medical negligence case

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 16 Dec 2014:

I can’t think of anything more potentially heartbreaking than a medical negligence claim – especially when it comes to claims made on behalf of children.

If there’s one region of personal injury compensation law that is most heart-wrenching it’s got to be instances of children being hurt or injured for life because of a botched medical procedure in their youth or during birth. Such a story tugs on the heartstrings of even the most jaded, grizzled personal injury solicitor – and these stories usually ends with massive personal injury compensation claims that are meant to make the injured child’s life somewhat more bearable, but it’s cold comfort in many cases.

In fact, there was a particular instance this week where  teenager from Northern Ireland ended up with a massive £8 million compensation award after he was improperly cared for as a little baby. The boy, who had been in Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital shortly after his birth to treat an infection ended up with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy because medical staff hadn’t cared for him properly. To make matters worse, the poor lad also has learing difficulties and epilepsy as a result.

Can you imagine having your life completely changed by poor medical care so badly that the courts see fit to award you £8 million? I don’t know if I could. What I can say is that while I’m absolutely heartbroken at the poor lad having to go through years of physical issues and learning disabilities, at least he should be set for life with such a massive compensation award. This should allow the teenager’s future home to be constructed with an eye towards the many accommodations he will need, not to mention the round the clock care that his injuries and ailments require.

Still, it’s cold comfort. I’m sure that the lad and his family would give up all that cash in a moment if it meant returning him to full health. That’s never going to happen of course – and it’s part of the tragedy that surrounds medical negligence cases – but at least he can be kept in relative comfort and with the security of knowing that there’s money for his needs for the rest of his life.

Amusement injuries turn out to be no laughing matter

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 2 Dec 2014:

While most of us go down to the cinema for a bit of a laugh, one retired postman received injuries so severe that they warranted an accident claim.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll see stars: that’s exactly what happened to Ian Johnston when he ventured out to Teesside Leisure Park in Stockton this past March. The 64 year old hit is head at the Showcase Cinema door frame, allegedly triggering a pre-existing neurological condition that saw him in hospital for a mind boggling 34 weeks, unable to move nothing but his arms.

Johnston is still in hospital today, but his personal injury solicitors have launched a legal claim against NATL Amusements (UK), the operator of the cinema. The injured man’s personal injury lawyers say that the disabled access door just wasn’t high enough. Apparently Johnston had been on crutches at the time due to his pre-existing condition, which is known as chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, an ailment that I will never be able to pronounce or even type again, so I’ll just be referring to it as CIDP for short.

The pensioner struck his head shortly after pushing the button that activated the disabled access door. He then fell backwards, fracturing his spine in the fall ostensibly after striking his head on the too-low doorway. For what it’s worth, Johnston says he’s only 6ft 1in tall, barely a giant by any means whatsoever.

If you ask me, something seems dodgy here. How could there be such a short doorway for disabled access at this cinema? It doesn’t make much sense at all. It’s not as if the man was towering over everyone by several inches – and it’s not like he wasn’t probably hunching over his crutches as well. Unless perhaps he was wearing stilts at the time. Were these crutches extra-high? I suppose we may never know, but I do suspect that something isn’t particularly clear right now.

Well, Johnston just made his personal injury claim. I’m sure that there will be more on this particularly interesting incident later on, though if I had to concoct a story as to what happened here my money would be on some strange half-arsed attempt to comply with accessibility standards on the part of the cinema by fitting it with a shoddily-designed disabled access door. It wouldn’t be the first time a company would have taken shortcuts to save cash, would it?

Will computer engineers replace personal injury solicitors?

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 25 Nov 2014:

New developments in technology could see computer engineers replacing personal injury solicitors eventually, if the newest breakthrough gains any traction.

I know it sounds like I’m saying the sky is falling when I say that new tech could replace a personal injury lawyer as the best way to make sure injured claimants get their personal injury compensation awards, but just because it sounds implausible and far-fetched doesn’t mean it’s not a possibility. I mean nobody thought the cotton gin would replace plantation workers when it came to picking cotton, but that happened too didn’t it?

Meanwhile in the current day and age, there’s a new push towards using technology to determine the extent of a claimant’s injuries instead of relying on lawyers and court cases. One new firm in Alberta, Canada called Vivametrica is spearheading the movement; it takes data gathered from a wearable fitness tracker called a Fitbit to see how much a claimant’s physical mobility has been impacted by an alleged accident, collecting data on the injured party and then comparing it to a database of records gleaned from healthy people of a similar height, weight, age and gender. If the two records are vastly different, the data may be used in court to prove that someone indeed was injured enough to deserve some compensation.

On the surface it sounds like a brilliant idea, doesn’t it? You could easily weed out anyone who was simply trying to get some quick cash from an insurer by pretending to have suffered injury, since their own bodies would betray them and expose the scam. Meanwhile, the gathering of this fitness data doesn’t happen over a few days or even a week – it could take months to build up enough data points to make a determination, and all through that time a legitimately injured claimant has been suffering – maybe unnecessarily.

Look, I’m all for better living through technology but this seems like we’re just overly complicating things in an industry that can be Byzantine in its intricacies already. Why add even more mountains of red tape to what could be piles higher than the Himalayas if we have to? Is this just a stunt on the part of insurers to once again weasel out of paying their fair share when it comes to injured claimants or what?

Car accident claims figures recede, pleasing insurers vastly

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 18 Nov 2014:

Insurers in the UK are likely to be chuffed to hear that the number of car accident claims have gone down by a significant amount this year.

So yes, it looks like 2013’s Legal Aid bill that went into effect in April of that year seems to have paid off for insurance companies. The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries reported this week that personal injury claims costs have gone down in the first time in ten years. The knock-on effect should be to drop insurance rates for the rest of us, but that’s neither here nor there; the startling news here is that April 2013’s LASPO bill actually worked as intended.

Of course it wasn’t just insurers that benefited from the Legal Aid bill. Personal injury solicitors that had been growing weary of defending their profession from accusations of ambulance chasing behaviour were glad to see LASPO held language banning referral fees, especially since this meant that the ban would likely make the bottom drop out of the claims management company market. Those CMCs had become notorious for giving personal injury lawyers a bad name, as the companies essentially took any and every case they could in the hopes that if they brought enough accident claims some of them would pan out enough to keep their pockets lined with insurer revenue.

Well, it turns out that Legal Aid did wreck the CMC market, as the IFoA says that there are 35 per cent fewer of the bloodsucking companies out there today than there were before April of 2013. Sure, they might not be wiped out completely but it’s obvious that they’re not nearly the thorn in the side of the personal injury compensation claims industry as they once were, and that makes me – and countless legitimate injury lawyers – practically giddy with happiness.

So there you have it – injury lawyers are happy, insurers are happy; it sounds like something that you would think would be bloody impossible but apparently it’s true. How long this will last is of course anyone’s guess, but for now I would just counsel you to enjoy it – and maybe look forward to some cheaper car insurance rates in the future. That of course requires insurers to stay true to their word, so don’t hold your breath on that one, mates.

Nobody likes having to deal with multiple injury claims

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 11 Nov 2014:

Whether it’s just a handful of personal injury claims or an unending avalanche of them, even having to deal with just one can seriously ruin your day.

Nothing’s worse than being involved in a personal injury compensation claim, especially for private trusts and local authorities. The bigger the pockets on an organsiation – and the more responsibility they have – the more they seem to get hit by claims and those ubiquitous personal injury solicitor fees. It’s happening right now with Essex County Council, as the local authority is facing down some 15 individual claims for injuries related to slips and trips in Brentwood High Street.

The country council is already out of some £7 million in costs for its controversial decision to ‘fix’ the street, as doing so managed to take the piss out of many local residents back in 2009 when the refurbishment initially took place. Well, now it’s even worse with the double handful of claims the council now has to deal with.

Meanwhile it could always be worse. How worse you ask? Well let me tell you: imagine that you were in charge of Jimmy Savile’s estate and you had some 160 claimants beating down your door because of the man’s supposed proclivities. Yes, that’s right, there are 160 possible claimants waiting to get a piece of the old man now that he’s dead and gone – and after spending 84 years on the planet it seems old Jim sure did ‘fix’ quite a few people – and not in a good way!

It’s gotten so bad that a High Court judge had to order a compensation fund st up for the man’s supposed victims. This has of course made the managers of Savile’s estate practically apoplectic, especially since claimants are emerging from the shadows like circus clowns from a Volkswagen Beetle. The worst thing is Savile is safely out of reach, considering how he’s pushing daisies. Would he be contrite? Embarrassed? Quivering with righteous indignation at all the allegations? We can only wonder, I suppose. I’d like to think that Savile would tell all his detractors to jog on, proclaiming his saintly innocence until the very last even in the face of overwhelming evidence, but that’s just me.

Injury lawyers work hard for clients regardless of payout

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 4 Nov 2014:

Personal injury lawyers work hard for their clients regardless of the size of the personal injury compensation award at stake; it’s not the money that matters.

Critics and detractors of so-called ambulance chasing injury lawyers love to point out that these people are in it for the money, looking for the most lucrative clients to represent so they can line their pockets with court costs and lawyer fees. Meanwhile that couldn’t be farther than the truth.

For what it’s worth, personal injury solicitors are more about providing access to justice for injured people than they are trying to strike it rich. I mean let’s look at the news this week if you don’t believe me. Did you know that one factory worker just prevailed on his work accident claim after he was brained by a falling pipe – and that he “only” ended up with a £4,000 award. Not exactly big money going into the pockets of his lawyer there, let me tell you. The bloke missed something like seven weeks of work as his broken pate healed.

Still, that’s not to say that there aren’t massive payouts as well. Another case that grabbed headlines this week recounted how a massive £4 million personal injury claim case was resolved for a gravely injured man. The bloke in question ended up in a serious road traffic accident that left him with serious brain injuries that saw him having to re-learn how to speak and that drastically altered his personality to the point where the normally even-tempered man became, well for lack of a better term, a right bastrard.

Now if you ask me if anyone deserves a massive compensation payout in the wake of such a debilitating and life-changing accident it’s that man. It’s true that £4 million is quite literally a shedload of cash, but the man needs round the clock managed care, and unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that costs a serious amount of money – especially considering the man is only 26 and he’s got a very long life ahead of him.

And yes, the man’s legal team does of course end up being entitled to a large sum of legal fees from the settlement. But let’s be honest here – the lawsuit took eight bloody years to resolve. That’s a long time, and that’s a lot of court costs to recover!

British bobbies do their best to not get injured on the job

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 28 Oct 2014:

Being a member of a British police force is a demanding job, and sometimes these bobbies get injured in the line of duty – and this results in accident claims.

Work accident claims are common in almost any line of work, but when it comes to jobs that put workers at risk as an inherent part of the job it’s especially prevalent. Sadly, police officers often end up getting the short end of the stick when it comes to being injured whilst on duty, and this often means that there’s more than a few personal injury claims made every year by police personnel.

Usually police officers end up bringing claims against their employer, but in cases when a member of the public is responsible taxpayers can take a break. That’s exactly what happened to PC Anna Fielding when she waded into a personal altercation, only to be thrown to the ground by a Falmouth Docks shipyard worker – the bobby suffered a broken pelvis after she slammed violently to the ground, setting her up for months of painful recovery.

The perpetrator was dragged into court for his crimes, and he new he was nicked; he confessed to everything and ended up being slapped with paying personal injury compensation to the injured officer. On top of that he spent four months in jail and now has to complete 120 hours of unpaid work to pay his debt to society. For what it’s worth, he got off easy – I suppose he’s lucky PC Fielding wasn’t injured worse than she was.

Meanwhile, some cops won’t even sue their own police force if they’re injured in the course of duty. I know you think that sounds ludicrous but it’s true – there are some good coppers out there that actually do believe in what they’re doing. PC Dave Stubbs is one of those police officers. The Cheadle native said he wouldn’t even consider bringing suit against the Staffordshire Police after he broke his wrist as he tackled a drink driving suspect. In fact, the supercop just took a week off from work before returning, though he was assigned restricted duties as he continues to heal.

Could you imagine? This man must be a true idealist. A regular Nicholas Angel, if you’re a fan of Simon Pegg films as it were. There truly are good cops out there, and I can only wish the best for PC Stubbs.