Solicitors score major victory for sick holidaymakers

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 24 March 2015:

Personal injury solicitors hare secured a major victory for sick holidaymakers, securing a reward of more than £350,000 in personal injury compensation.

Back in 2012 a number of families went on holiday to a supposedly ‘luxury’ Egyptian resort, only to have their good times ruined by a rather nasty outbreak of a virulent gastric illness. It wasn’t just poor timing that ripped through the tour group though; in fact, the so-called ‘4 star resort’ was a nightmarish display of poor management, leading to meals of undercooked and cross-contaminated food being served to families. In some instances the horrid, unsafe food was even re-used from one meal to the next!

If that wasn’t enough to turn your stomach – and send you running for the loo – holidaymakers reported that raw sewage was spotted spilling up and overflowing from drains situated close to the children’s pool on the resort. Amazingly no one died, but guests were stricken with diarrhoea, Cryptosporidium and Salmonella poisoning.

Well, at least now a large number of the families with sickened children that were subjected to this nighmarish hellscape of a holiday have prevailed on their personal injury compensation claims. In fact, 32 families with children that fell grievously ill have reached a settlement with the tour operator responsible for the entire mess. The company at first denied all liability in the matter – can you believe it!? – but now a Birmingham County Court judge has signed off on the large packet of compensation, with some children receiving as much as £20,000 each.

I’m absolutely bloody disgusted by this one, ladies and gents. How do things get so bad at a resort that you’re re-using spoiled and undercooked food in the meals you serve your guests, not to mention the deplorable conditions of human waste spilling out unseemingly close to the children’s pool? It turns my stomach – much in the way that stomachs were turning at that resort, I’m sure – and I can only hope that those poor kids can go on to have a nice holiday somewhere in the future that isn’t filthy and horrid.

Personal injury lawyers to blame for compensation culture?

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 17 Mar 2015:

Here we go again: apparently personal injury lawyers are to blame for so-called ‘compensation culture’ when it comes to increasing costs for them.

Aviva, one of the largest insurers in the UK, started complaining and whinging about how personal injury compensation claims brought by scammers – and of course all those crafty personal injury solicitors that chase down ambulances and convince all these barely-injured people to make accident claims against these poor, defenceless insurance companies. Yes, that’s right, there’s nothing but scammers and criminals working both sides of the equation according to Aviva.

Now I’m not going to say that there isn’t fraud when it comes to personal injury claims made against insurers. Whiplash claims in particular are a problem, and Aviva says that road accidents have decreased by 30 per cent while claims have increased by 62 per cent. But that doesn’t mean that the majority of injured Brits seeking compensation are thieves and liars!

Honestly, people get hurt all the time, and through no fault of their own. If insurers had their way they would never pay out at all, no matter how badly people ended up injured, but people deserve to be made whole after being injured through no fault of their own. In fact, Aviva had the temerity to complain that 96 per cent of the claims they deal with come from third party claims like injury lawyers.

They complained about it! Are they mad? Of course people seek legal advice after getting hurt! Nobody knows how to represent themselves in court against a defendant with massively deep pockets that can afford high-powered lawyers of its own. I’m sure Aviva would love to just chew up all those self-represented people who were legitimately injured and toss them out on their ear.

Honestly, injured people need the protections of personal injury lawyers so they’re not buggered six ways to Sunday by big insurers like Aviva. Maybe if the insurance industry wasn’t so bloody stingy people wouldn’t need to use lawyers to get what they deserve out of them. I know I’d never go head-to-head with an insurer without the biggest, meanest personal injury law firm I could find.

Personal injury solicitors soak local authority for £1.5m

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 10 March 2015:

Personal injury solicitors have gone to town on Cumbria County Council over the past three years, soaking the authority for £1.5 million in claims.

I have to feel a bit of sympathy for the local authority – the council’s rather cash-strapped as it is, and then it has to deal with a bevy of personal injury claims coming its way that extract a massive amount of cash from its coffers. On the other hand, the council has no one to blame but themselves – according to a Freedom of Information request, the majority of the compensation awards – around £1.3 million – were due to people tripping, falling and suffering from bruises and broken bones because of broken and uneven footpaths or roads that the council should have mended.

People are all up in arms about the massive payouts, and as well they should be – but they should also put things into perspective. Only 22 per cent of the personal injury compensation claims brought against the council actually succeeded. The amount of cash the council didn’t end up paying out likely dwarfs the amount they did – but nobody takes that into account, do they?

Meanwhile, maybe if the authority actually got its potholes filled in a reasonable amount of time this issue wouldn’t have happened. I wonder what would have been more expensive in the long run – employing council workers to go about and mend all those cracks and potholes or paying out on all those accident claims? I’ll wager that the former would have cost Cumbria County Council less, but hindsight is of course 20/20 isn’t it?

I’d like to think that the county learned its lesson from these payouts, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Like I said, Cumbria County Council is particularly cash-strapped right now, and is likely to have to make many of its staff redundant to cut back on its massive deficit. This isn’t going to make maintenance much better – and with the winter finally turning to spring the roadways are likely to be a complete mess after such a wet, soggy season. If I were you I’d be careful where you step!

Sometimes it’s the personal injury lawyers who are to blame

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 3 March 2015:

It’s not something that’s easy to face or even to talk about, but sometimes the injured suffer because their personal injury lawyers are to blame for suffering.

In fact, there’s a very noteworthy example of this that just hit the news this week in the form of how 42 year old Shaunna Baynes ended up in a world of pain and suffering after celebrating her 40th birthday. Shaunna had a fantastic time visiting Graceland in the United States – the woman is a self-avowed Elvis fanatic – only to suffer damage to her hip and a broken nose on the flight back when she stumbled over a British Airways worker.

After getting home, the injured woman contacted a personal injury solicitor to seek legal advice in making an accident claim against British Airways. However, the solicitor firm neglected to make a personal injury compensation claim in time, resulting in Shaunna being given £2,000 from the lawyers instead as a consolation prize.

Now, I will say that the solicitor firm at least did the right thing in owning up to its mistake and paying the poor injured woman out of their own pocket. However, I also have to say this: what sort of incompetent pillocks manage to cock up so badly like this?

Do you know what happened? The solicitor in question thought he had three years to make a claim when the limit is actually two. For someone who claims to have had years of experience dealing with personal injuries, an oversight of this level is the equivalent of forgetting that you need to have your licence and insurance before getting behind the wheel to drive. It’s infuriating and absolutely unbelievable that people like this have been operating in this world.

Who knows what other ways these solicitors have cocked up other cases? They could be ruining lives and bollixing up court cases left and right. It’s rather an embarrassment to the entire personal injury community, if you ask me; I know I would be absolutely bloody mortified if this happened to a law firm I was involved with. Lord, I would never be able to show my face in public again

Why do personal injury claims take so long sometimes?

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 24 Feb 2015:

If there’s one thing that always makes people wonder, it’s how sometimes personal injury claims can take literally decades to resolve themselves.

In fact, if you were to look at the news this week you’d surely leave scratching your head, as one of the most prominent stories in the press was how 24 year old Annie Woodland, a woman who had suffered life-changing injuries in a near-drowning when she was 10 years old, had to wait nearly a decade and a half to receive her personal injury compensation award. That’s an incredible delay by any stretch of the imagination; sure, the wheels of justice might grind slowly, but 14 years? That seems a bit much if you ask me.

Or if you ask anyone, really. Even personal injury solicitors will wince and say that such a long turnaround is rather unpleasantly rare. So what caused the long delay? Well, the secret is, of course, in determining who was going to pay Woodland’s £3 million compensation award. The woman had been on a school trip to Basildon’s Gloucester Park Pool at the time of the injury, but she and the rest of the pupils were under the supervision of both a contracted swim instructor and a lifeguard for the facility; there was a conflict between whether Essex Council should be paying for her injuries or if the contractor should be.

Essex Council fought long and hard against paying the bill, stating that if they acquiesced it would mean that it could find itself liable for any number of accidents and injuries that occur on school trips even when pupils were being supervised by non-council employees and staff. The council went on to say that it would likely have to encourage fewer trips to be taken by schoolchildren as a result, something it called a ‘chilling’ effect that would negatively impact the education of children within the local authority’s reach. Meanwhile I think it just came down to not wanting to shell out that kind of cash, despite all the pain and suffering that Woodland has gone through since she nearly drowned.

So on the one hand I can kind of understand Essex Council’s position – but on the other hand, making this injured woman wait 14 years on a procedural issue? Kind of makes my stomach turn.

Man injured in motorbike accident wins £10m accident claim

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 17 Feb 2015:

Want a cool £10 million? No problem – just get yourself nearly crippled in a motorcycle accident and let your personal injury solicitors do the rest.

I’m just taking the piss, of course. No one “just” gets themselves involved in a serious road traffic accident in a bid to earn millions of pounds in personal injury compensation. In fact it’s likely to be one of the most excruciating and life-changing experiences of your life – much as it was for Macel Beasley, the 31 year old man who was so severely injured in a motorbike crash a few years ago his heart stopped a terrifying 8 times on the way to hospital via air ambulance. Not only that, but he was in a coma for two long weeks until he finally regained consciousness.

Meanwhile, once Beasley woke back up, it was readily apparent that the physical head trauma he had sustained in the accident had left him with the kind of severe brain damage that you simply don’t walk away from unscathed. I mean that literally, too – the poor man needs a wheelchair to get about for much of the time, and he’s in need of constant care. He’s also now the recipient of a terrible impairment to his speech – as if the rest of his long-lasting injuries weren’t enough to have to deal with.

Thankfully for Beasley, the other person involved in the accident that left him with these injuries – the driver of the VW Golf that cut him off and collided with him – was determined to be fully liable for the accident. That means he gets every penny of the £4.27 million lump sum payment in the terms of his settlement – and the yearly £175,000 payments for the rest of his life in order to help pay for his needs. All in all it’s around £10 million in value, his compensation award. Beasley plans to purchase a house that can accommodate his specialised accessibility needs and to ensure he has the round the clock care that he also needs in order to live as comfortably as possible.

How comfortable that will be is anyone’s guess, of course. I know that no amount of cash would ever replace the use of my legs or soothe the constant pain of knowing that I suffered severe brain damage. It’s heartbreaking, isn’t it?

It pays to have friends in high places, like Wirral’s mayor

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 10 Feb 2015:

It’s proof positive of the old adage that it’s good to have friends in high places: the soon-to-be stepson of Wirral’s mayor just got off Scot-free.

Jack Nolan, the future stepson of the mayor of Wirral, ended up getting a conditional discharge over a drunken altercation where he assaulted a woman at a charity event. The 18 year old Nolan ended up only having to pay a nominal £250 personal injury compensation award to the injured woman despite the fact that he most likely terrified her.

Now I’m not going to sit here and say that it’s simply because Cllr Steve Foulkes is marrying Nolan’s mother Elaine this summer that he got such a white-glove treatment from the courts. It took a massive procession of character witnesses to back up Nolan, including head teachers and a procession of parish priests and other clergy, before district judge Michael Abelson sentenced him to paying the nominal fee on the accident claim. The judge said that applying any harsher sentences would have had ‘devastating’ effects on the ability for Nolan to pursue a career in the future.

Meanwhile, the event that got Nolan in such hot water, the Mayor’s Ball in October, which was held at Thornton Hall Hotel, saw him drunkenly threatening staff with a fire extinguisher and forks. Nolan admitted to grabbing the injured woman by her ponytail and forcing her head forward into a table all whilst shouting gibberish such as ‘you’re the one’ and other such drunken bits of wisdom. At the time, police were called and escorted Nolan into a van. The 18 year old insisted that his mother was the mayor and that she would sort everything out. He then sicked up inside the van.

As borderline amusing the story is, I’m rather well annoyed that this little bastard gets away with his actions simply because he’s got a so-called ‘spotless’ record. Are you truly telling me that the fact his mum isn’t about to marry the mayor of Wirral isn’t playing a role in this? If you do you’re bloody naive. And what about the injured woman who ended up completely humiliated by this teenager? Is that fair to her that all she got was an insulting £250 from her personal injury claim? Disgusting!

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.

Swansea Council pays out nearly £60k over three years’ time

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 20 Jan 2015:

Three years, £58,000: Swansea Council just can’t cut a break after running afoul of more than half a dozen of costly personal injury claims.

There’s no rest for the wicked, apparently, as the local authority has had to face a barrage of personal injury compensation claims from April 2012 for claimants who have suffered slip-and-trip injuries on property owned by the council. The massive legal bill has already sparked outrage from those who have a bee in their bonnets about how much money the council is spending on accident claims, but Swansea Council says that as far as compensation bills go it’s not nearly as bad as everyone thinks.

Honestly – and I can’t believe I’m actually saying this – I have to agree with the local authority. A spokeswoman for the council rebutted claims that there needs to be a personal injury crackdown by saying the council investigates each and every claim made against it as thoroughly and objectively as possible in order to suss out whether the authority has any legal liability – and it’s only those that rise to the level of liability that the council pays out on.

What this means is that Swansea Council doesn’t like spending taxpayer cash on things like compensation payouts any more than people like to see massive figures in the tens of thousands go out to injured individuals. On the one hand, if someone is injured they have a right to be made whole if it wasn’t their fault, and the responsibility for that lies at the feet of whomever was responsible for their injuries. On the other hand, Swansea is a big place and you can’t possibly expect the local council to police every single inch of pavement to make sure that it’s not going to cause someone to trip on it and break their crown open. This means that it’s inevitable that a few claims are going to show up every year.

Honestly, getting off with less than £20,000 a year in damages for a region the size of Swansea is a bloody miracle if you ask me. It’s obvious that the local council is doing its job as best as it can, and I’m sure the councilors would be quite appreciative if people would stop taking the piss out of them for once.

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!