Lawyers work overtime on two new compensation cases

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 23 Oct 2012:

Lawyers have been kept on their toes this week after two new reports of recent personal injury compensation cases were made known to the public.

First we have the successful injury claim made by one man and his personal injury solicitors after her was struck on the head after being caught in a hospital ceiling collapse as he went about his duties. David Kennedy, forty eight years old, had been going about his business at the Prospect Park Hospital, located in Tilehurst, when a piece of plasterboard fell from the ceiling of the dining room he was in, knocking him out cold and causing not just persistent hearing issues but also spraining his right shoulder.

Luckily fr Mr Kennedy, his union referred him to a personal injury law firm that took his case, resulting in the case being settled out of court by the NHS Trust for the hospital. The amount of the injured man’s compensation was not made known to the public.

Next we move from head to feet, with one Walton woman ending up in hospital after fracturing her ankle on the first day of a holiday at a caravan park. Tracey McShane, a disabled woman diagnosed with both  ME and chronic fatigue syndrome, had been at the caravan park for scarcely four hours when the incident occurred, which involved her falling through a gap just outside her caravan that had allegedly been concealed by two concrete slabs holding down a welcome mat.

The fifty year old woman was rushed to hospital after she fell in order to treat her broken right tibia and the soft tissue damage suffered by her left ankle. The woman’s injuries were so severe that she needed to have her leg pinned and left in a plaster cast, but she reports that her ankles are still both painful and swollen even after her broken tibia has healed.

The 50 year old woman has since sought out legal advice, launching a personal injury claim against Park Holidays, the owners of the caravan park. Park Holidays has declined to comment on the case.

Lawyers win compensation for two injured workers

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 16 Oct 2012:

Personal injury lawyers for two individuals injured at their respective places of work have won both injured workers personal injury compensation.

First up this week was the £3,500 compensation award given to a Carlisle school science technician for exposure to dangerous fumes. West Cumbria native, April Walsh, had been exposed to the fumes as they escaped from a chemical cupboard that had been poorly ventilated, causing the bromine fumes to flood the science prep room Mrs Walsh was in and leading to her suffering irritation to her throat, nose, and eyes.

Not only was the room evacuated in order to isolate people from the fumes, but the room’s windows had to be smashed by firefighters in order to vent the dangerous fumes. Mrs Rose suffered from headaches and a chesty cough, which are the symptoms of bromine poisoning, and then had her legal team bring a personal injury claim against her employers, the Richard Rose Central Academy, on the grounds that the school had failed to install a ducted ventilation system within the science prep room, and the Academy admitted liability, settling with Mrs Walsh out of court for a sum of £3,500.

However, Mrs Walsh wasn’t the only employee that won a personal injury compensation claim recently, nor was her award the largest. In fact, one fifty year old car seat factory worker received a £60,000 compensation award for repetitive strain injury.

Angela McGuckin, from Washington, on Wearside, had been working at the Houghton-based Tacle Seating’s plant as a production operative, where she was responsible for using an air gun to staple fabric to foam for several years. However, after halfway through 2007, Mrs McGuckin was told that she needed to work at a high table, despite the fact that the 5ft 2in woman couldn’t carry out her work without raising her elbow above her head in a consistent manner, a fact that led to her developing pain in both her elbow and her shoulder.

The fifty year old woman complained to management for more than a year before the situation was remedied. In fact, even the company doctor’s recommendations to lower the table were ignored for several months.

NHS, local authorities paying through the nose on accidents

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 9 Oct 2012:

Local authorities and the NHS have been paying through the nose when it comes to personal injury claims lately, according to this week’s news roundup.

It was recently revealed that school bullies have been causing injuries to pupils, causing local authorities across the length and breadth of the UK to pay out on £109,000 in damages on personal injury claims in 2011 alone. Almost a dozen pupils brought claims against their local councils by personal injury solicitors after injuries at the hands of fellow students last year, the data shows.

Lancashire Council was hit hardest, with three separate cases seeing a combined payout of £20,000. One young pupil received a damages award of £11,000 after his hand was crushed, while the broken arm of another schoolboy earned him £8,000 and the facial injuries of a third child were worth £9,000 in compensatory damages.

Meanwhile, it’s not just local councils having to foot some rather large legal bills. The NHS faces an even steeper compensation payout – £750,000 – after a Somerset man’s diabetic foot infection was misdiagnosed as a case of athlete’s foot. Bob Wareham, a Somerset-based business owner, ended up losing his leg due to the incident, as the misdiagnosis delayed the 54 year old’s treatment to the point of no return.

The medication Mr Wareham was given, a round of antibiotics designed to combat athlete’s foot, did absolutely nothing to clear up the leg infection, leaving him suffering for an additional 48 hours before the concerned man went to the A&E department of his hospital. It was only then that the diabetic foot infection was discovered, but there was little to be done except to perform an emergency amputation.

Mr Wareham, who launched a medical negligence claim three years ago for his injuries, finally reached a settlement out of court with the NHS Litigation Authority and the Weston General Hospital. Both defendants declined to make any comment to the press besides awarding the injured man his £750,000 personal injury claim.


What do whiplash and asthma have in common?

While it seems they have nothing in common, both a whiplash claim and a claim for asthma both made big news this week.

Personal injury solicitors won a personal injury compensation award of £15,000 for a man whose asthma was triggered by exposure to dangerous fumes. Firefighter Leigh Payne, who was employed at Exeter and Devon Airport, was exposed to unfiltered red diesel fumes, noxious substances that would collect in plane cargo holds after being emitted from power tugs and other related vehicles.

Many of Mr Payne’s working days would be spent in exposure to these fumes, sometimes for more than two hours at  time, as he removed baggage and post from planes, until he was diagnosed with occupational asthma in 2010, resulting in him having to take time off work in order to recover. Once it became clear that Mr Payne’s asthma had been triggered by diesel fumes exposure, the firefighter made a claim for personal injury at work against the airport, with the end result being the man has been awarded £15,000 for his pain and suffering.

While it’s been a happy ending for Mr Payne, one injured scholgirl’s story is far from over; Amber Dunkley, just 13 years old, was struck by a bus while waiting at  bus stop in Cemaes, Wles, just a week ago.Young Amber had been speaking to her friends, reportedly standing on the pavement, when she was struck from behind on the shoulder by the bus, allegedly causing not just a whiplash injury but also injuring her shoulder and back, necessitating three day off school and the prescription of painkillers in order for her to cope with the injuries.

Amber’s parents have since made a complaint about the bus driver’s behaviour, asserting that she was a foot away – or more – from the road at the time of the accident, despite the fact that the driver said to one of her friends that Amber had been standing too close to the road. The callous driver allegedly didn’t even inquire if she had been injured after Amber boarded the bus in the wake of the incident.

Nice bloke, to say the least. The upside of this is that the bus company, education authority, and police are all reportedly investigating the incident in an effort to get to the bottom of things.

Lawyers praise new Edinburgh personal injury court

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 25 Sept 2012:

Edinburgh will soon be the home of a new, specialised court just for personal injury claims – and personal injury lawyers are tripping over each other to praise the new move.

Specialist sheriffs will staff the new one-of-a-kind court, with cases from every nook and cranny of Scotland being decided there – a move that experts say will make it not just quicker to be awarded personal injury compensation but incur less in legal costs as well.

Personal injury solicitors say that the new move is an important ‘step in the right direction’ in order to make sure judgments are reached fairly, especially in instances that could lead to new precedent being set, which could have a quite discernible effect on similar personal injury claims in the future. Having a specialist court will lead to correct decisions made by skilled judges that are experienced in personal injury matters, said law partner Patrick McGuire, who added that wrong decisions made in injury claims cases could have a serious, deleterious effect on many, especially since employers could get the wrong message and attempt to cut corners on their health and safety efforts.

The new court system was recommended by Lord Gill, in his review of Scotland’s civil courts that was undertaken in 2009. Lord Gill felt that moving personal injury cases to a sheriff court instead of having them dealt with by the Court of Session would result in quicker turnaround and much less expensive court costs.
The new proposals had been accepted almost universally by solicitors and legal experts from all over Scotland. In fact, the only objections were from trade unions, who often find themselves embroiled in injury claims on behalf of their members; however, as long as sheriffs that had specialised skills and experience in dealing with trade unions, the switch was a welcome one indeed.

The details of the new court, such as the frequency of it sitting or how many sheriffs will be required, have yet to be sorted. It is thought that the court will sit in Parliament House in Edinburgh, though no final decision has yet been made.

NHS can’t keep itself out of trouble if it tried

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 18 Sept 2012:

This past week, it seemed that the NHS just kept putting its foot in it with the number of blunders committed by hospital staff and medical professionals across the country, resulting in medical negligence claims and even one instance of security roughing up a pair of parents!

Personal injury solicitor experts say that one family could soon be making a compensation claim in the wake of a child’s untimely death after surgery to correct a heart defect. Young Luke Jenkins, just seven years old at the time of the surgery, emerged unscathed, only to die one week later despite his prognosis for recovery being assessed as excellent.

An investigation into the boy’s death revealed that negligence on the part of hospital staff played a role in his untimely death, a fact that Luke’s bereaved parents, Faye Valentine and Stephen Jenkins, have been absolutely crushed to learn, and the likelihood of the couple enlisting the  help of personal injury lawyers to make a claim against the NHS seems inevitable at this point, and rightly so if the investigation uncovered negligence contributed to the boy’s death in any way.

However, it’s not just medical negligence that NHS staffers have to watch out for, as another news story revealed this week: the parents of another child were actually physically assaulted by hospital security staff as they attempted to leave the hospital with their infant daughter in tow, resulting in black eyes, bruises, and a £7,000 personal injury compensation award as well.

Ellie-Suzanne Fish was born prematurely to Bristol couple David and Beverley Fish, necessitating a six month stay in hospital to ensure the young infant would survive. Overjoyed that a consultant in charge of the Bristol Children’s Hospital gave them the green light to take their little girl home, they were confused when security staff accosted them on their way out with their child, resulting in a physical confrontation that saw both parents physically beaten – all because another consultant disagreed with the first one’s assessment.

The NHS was named in two personal injury claims made by the couple, resulting in a total of £7,000 in damages being awarded to the injured mum and dad after the NHS Trust for the hospital admitted liability.  Luckily, their child is now home with the family and is a healthy four years old.

Whiplash injury claims fall, but where’s the insurance drop?

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 11th Sept  2012:

Consumer campaigners have been incensed after it’s been revealed that whiplash injury claims have gone down by 10 per cent in Worcester over the pas 12 months, yet there are people living in the area that are still paying massive insurance premiums.

According to one recent news story this week, there were only 1,405 personal injury claims made for whiplash in the region over the 2011-2012 year, a decrease of about 10 per cent from the previous year’s figure of 1,556. National figures have dropped as well, with the last year’s total reaching only 547,405, down around 4 per cent from 571,111.

Despite the fact that claims figures are dropping, insurance premiums are still climbing for the average Brit. This seems hard to swallow for many, considering that claims made by injured motorists are one of the driving factors behind ballooning costs for insurers; a drop in the number of claims brought by injured drivers and their personal injury solicitors should coincide with reduced costs for insurance companies, but something seems amiss.

However, another recent news story quoted the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, pointing out that it’s obvious that whiplash claims volume can no longer be tied to the whipping post as a reason that insurance premiums are rocketing upwards. Despite this, there are several that are saying that the slight reduction in the number of claims simply isn’t enough to really make a difference yet.

Robin Walker, MP for Worcester, welcomed the drop in the number of claims, but was quick to say that the entire situation bears more heavy scrutiny. There’s still a very real need to investigate claims to ensure that there aren’t spurious claims being made, Walker added, calling whiplash injury claims ‘part of the broader picture.’

Other close by regions are still suffering as well from premiums that have been called both ‘irrational’ and ‘unfair.’ MP for Blackburn, Jack Straw, has been voicing his desire for insurers to lower their premium costs after the drop in claims volumes. Blackburn, which is included in the notoriously expensive to insure BB postcode, has been hammered by high insurance quotes for quite long enough, added Straw, considering how some residents within the postcode have seen their insurance costs literally double over the past few years.

Local authorities inundated by expensive injury claims

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 4th Sept 2012:

Personal injury solicitors have been working overtime lately when it comes to bringing injury claims against local authorities for hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation – but some councils have had quite enough of that, thank you.

The big news this week was how much Northamptonshire County Council has had to pay out to injured council staff members over the past five years. Believe it or not, a recent Freedom of Information request has revealed that the total bill has been around £514,000 in compensation payments – more than £100,000 a year in personal injury compensation payments alone!

From 2006 to 2011, there were more than 50 injury claims made against the local authority, the figures indicate. Injuries paid out varied wildly – and some of these injuries seem a bit mad, such as the £5,500 paid out to a council employee that claimed they had developed spinal injuries after they wore an ill-fitting uniform and the £32,000 compensation payment made to a staff member who suffered a slip-and-trip in a dining hall after encountering some spilled food. Of course, the winner in the ‘largest award’ department was the council employee who was struck with a bit of wood on the knee by a pupil, causing enough serious damage to net the employee a massive £100,000 compensation award.

Local taxpayers were understandably up in arms after the massive payouts were revealed. However, a council spokesperson did his best to quell their rage by pointing out that the local authority took employee safety very seriously – and that only around 50 claims is a reasonable number, considering the council employs en excess of 15,000 staff.

However, not all councils are as magnanimous when it comes to dealing with injury claims. When it comes to road accident claims made against Barnet Council over the past few years, the local authority has not only gotten four of them dropped before going after the claimants on the grounds that the four accidents were staged in order to defraud the council’s insurer.

With a combined worth of around £120,000, the four claims had been made against the council after cars loaded with passengers inexplicably braked suddenly whilst in front of a council HGV. The vehicle of course ended up causing a rear-end shunt with the fraudsters, who would then claim for vehicle damage costs and the ‘personal injury’ sustained in the incidents.

Insurance officers for the council first found their suspicions aroused once investigating the claims, noticing how each one of these incidents bore a striking resemblance to ‘crash for cash’ insurance scams. A bit more digging uncovered connections between all the claimants, such as their details and the claims management firms representing them; the claimants tried to turn tail and run by dropping their claims, but the local authority had already put wheels in motion to prosecute them for insurance fraud.

The world goes mad ahead of next April

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 28th Aug 2012:

It seems like everyone’s gone barmy when it comes to personal injury compensation, just because of the new Legal Aid law that’s going into effect in April of 2013 – and apparently insanity is a bit contagious, if you judge by the last week’s trending news stories.

First – and this isn’t necessarily news, as the Legal Aid law spent literally months and months working its way through Parliament – but personal injury solicitors aren’t going to be able to soak losing defendants for massive success fees anymore. Instead, successful claimants will have to pay their own legal fees out of their compensation awards – and in order to make sure there’s still some cash left over for injured claimants, the new law both limits the amount lawyers can charge and increases the standard compensation amount by 10 per cent.

Seems like a pretty simple arrangement, doesn’t it?  Well, some personal injury lawyers are absolutely up in arms over the change, claiming that the new changes are going to lead to a decline in access to justice for anyone without a massive compensation claim, as no win no feelawyers will begin to pick and choose which cases to take in order to maximise their profits.

Of course, these law firms never say that they will be the ones to engage in such dastardly behaviour. Oh, no – it’s always ‘those disreputable ambulance chasers’ that are going to engage in such activities, as if the veiled threat isn’t immediately apparent.

Meanwhile, it’s not just random law firms that have gotten all out of sorts over the new rules going into effect. The Solicitors’ Regulation Authority has gotten in on the act as well, but they’ve taken a different route – they’re criticising the ban on referral fees, those little under-the-table payments that law firms up until recently were allowed to make to insurers or claims management companies in return for big fat lists of possible clients.

The problem with banning the taking of referral fees, says the SRA in its infinite wisdom, because law firms and CMCs will simply find a way around the ban by putting a false beard and a new pair of trousers on and just call it something else instead. So good luck with cutting back on spurious claims that have been drummed up by trawling insurers’ accident claim lists, says the regulator.