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?

 

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.

Who wins in when it comes down to car accident claims?

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 15 July 2013:

It’s easy to be smug and say that no one but personal injury solicitors benefit from a world awash in car accident claims, but is that the real truth or not?

Personal injury compensation awards notwithstanding – and the sometimes hefty legal fees that go to personal injury law firms as a result – there’s really no winner when it comes to a road traffic accident claim. If you’ve been injured to the point where you end up winning a multi-million pound settlement amount, you’re certainly not going to be in any sort of physical shape to enjoy your newfound wealth. In fact you’re probably going to just be relieved that you can afford somewhere to live that has disabled access for your ruined body.

Worse yet is that everyone else suffers when car accident figures increase. In fact, new research has shown that the number of accidents on roads with 20mph speed limits have gone up by some 26 per cent over the last year. More accidents means more potential injuries, and that leads to more possibly debilitating injuries that insurance companies have to pay out for. And guess what happens when insurers have to pay out on millions in damages? That’s right – they raise the rates on everyone: you, me, your mum, anyone that drives. It’s an awfully vicious cycle that feeds back on itself, like a snake swallowing its own tail, and no one is safe.

Speaking of a vicious cycle, one insurance company actually ended up embroiled in a nasty car accident personally. The offices of Rose Insurance had an unexpected visitor recently, and I don’t mean someone who walked in to their London location either; an out-of-control ambulance that went careering across the road after being struck by another vehicle plowed through the insurance office’s glazed storefront and came to rest smack dab in the centre of the CEO and owner’s office! Somehow, beyond all reckoning, no one was harmed, but the damage to the building was rather catastrophic. Guess their own business insurance premiums are going to go through the roof; an ironic twist of fate for a company that’s in the business of providing insurance for others, but what can you do in this mad world?

 

Car insurance claims: expensive but needed for the injured

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 8 July 2014:

Personal injury solicitors may make a killing on legal fees when it comes to making successful car accident claims, but the payouts are huge for a reason.

Everyone grouses and whinges about how many road traffic accident claims end up costing insurers millions of pounds thanks to the high value of personal injury compensation awards. It’s true; damages awards for many car crashes are exorbitantly high, but there’s a very important reason why the legal bill is so high: serious crashes can completely destroy a victim’s life.

Don’t believe me? Let me draw your attention to two major news stories that broke this week involving multi-million pound compensation payouts for crash victims. In both cases they involved young men that had been riding as a passenger in a vehicle, only to have their lives changed in one irrevocable instant. For one of these victims, the use of his legs is gone, permanently; for another, massive head trauma will prevent him from leading a productive life. Either injury is debilitating and heart-breaking, and the millions they’ve both won in the courts recently isn’t going to go to fund extravagant lifestyles – instead it’s going to provide for the lifelong care of these two men.

This is the ultimate tragedy of bad car accidents, as they can wreck lives as easily as they can result in a car chassis mangled beyond recognition. Are you really going to begrudge someone who, through no fault of their own, is now permanently disabled for the remainder of their natural life simply because they had the ill luck to be traveling as a passenger in a vehicle that crashed? What about those drivers that were minding their own business and driving responsibly only to become embroiled in an accident caused by another driver, should they be penalised as well?

The answer is of course not, but sometimes I think we lose sight of the fact that there are real and true consequences to car crashes, and that there’s some very real collateral damage in the form of human injury. Insurers like to complain about how personal injury lawyers are sucking them dry with high compensation awards but what’s the alternative? Surely you’re not suggesting we leave these poor crippled victims with no help whatsoever?

Hope you’re not in a hurry for personal injury compensation

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 27 May 2014:

If there’s one thing you can rely on in this world it’s that the amount of time between your accident claim and getting your compensation award can be forever.

If you don’t believe me, take a look at the news this week: that horrific Clutha helicopter crash – which was six months ago nearly to the day – has of course resulted in an absolute shedload of horrifying personal tragedies, and many of those injured by the crash or the families of those who paid the ultimate price have of course sought legal advice from personal injury solicitors and have made accident claims as a result. However, not even one of the injured claimants or their surviving families have even seen a single penny of compensation yet.

This is, sadly, highly typical of the way the compensation landscape works, even though it makes it incredibly difficult for anyone left suffering in the face of life-changing injuries that precludes them from earning a living or even living their lives without round the clock care. Meanwhile the injury lawyers for the defendants argue and argue, trying to weasel out of being held responsible; it could easily be more than a full year before any of the most serious claims are actually paid out.

Then again, if you as a claimant can hold on long enough eventually you could finally get what’s coming to you. There was a fantastic example of this very concept recently as well, where US injury compensation court finally awarded a bloody fantastic $15 million to a young mother and her four year old daughter after an accident involving public transport. The 20 year old mother was riding a bus with her daughter when she was thrown violently from her seat as the driver went over a particularly nasty bump, and as she landed she did such extensive damage to her spine that not only did she need to undergo an operation to repair the damage to her spinal column but she was left in constant pain – for three long years!

So that $15 million doesn’t erase the pain and suffering the poor woman went through for three years. Nothing will. But, well let’s be honest – $15 million is a nice consolation prize.

Personal injury lawyers have motor insurers running scared

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 29 April 2014:

If there’s one particular sector that loathes and abhors personal injury solicitors more than any other, it’s the motor insurance industry.

In fact, there was not just one major news story this week but two that illustrated exactly how much car insurance companies fear the power of personal injury lawyers, especially those that specialise in car accident claims. First up is how major British insurer Aviva declared that – according to their own data, mind you – the number of fraudulent road traffic accident claims went up by nearly 20 per cent last year. Aviva didn’t come out and say that ‘ambulance chasing’ injury lawyers were to blame but instead said that there were organised fraudsters causing accidents to reap the benefits, though the inference was there that the personal injury claims sector had something to do with it.

Honestly I’m not surprised by this new report. Aviva is obviously in the business of making money, so it  behooves them to try to shift the blame for poor performance on to anyone but themselves. I do doubt the accuracy of the research though, and that’s just because I know that you can use statistics to back up more or less any bollocks you’d like to say in order to make it look official and valid. It is nice to see that a major insurer isn’t immediately blaming lawyers for the trouble; while fraud can be and of course is a problem to some extent, I’m going to need corroborating evidence before I simply believe what the insurance industry has to say.

Of course other insurers take a different approach. One of the more popular ways they’re trying to curb accident claims is by offering incentives to their policyholders to collect evidence on car crashes, this time by slashing their premium prices by 10 per cent for anyone who agrees to have a dashboard camera fitted to their vehicle.

Now this is both a good idea and a bad idea for a number of reasons. It’s helpful to have real video footage of crashes in order to more accurately discern who indeed is responsible for a particular incident, but it’s also a bit suspect in that it’s just one more instance of the burgeoning surveillance state. I mean the number of CCTV cameras throughout the UK is positively sickening as it is, and now the average Brit is being exhorted to add to the glut of privacy-violating surveillance just to get the price of their car cover down by a few quid?

Yes, I know what some of you will say: if you have nothing to hide, what are you worried about? Well to these particular wags I say it doesn’t matter if I have anything to hide or not – I have a reasonable expectation of privacy and I don’t relish being on bloody camera every time I go down to the corner shop for a Cornetto.

So much for blaming lawyers for rampant injury claims

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 22 Oct 2013:

Detractors of the personal injury lawyer community love to claim injury lawyers are the root of all evil, but it looks like these firebrands are just wrong.

Now far be it for me to go around saying ‘I told you so,’ but let’s be honest here: the news this week has been filled with evidence that blaming injury lawyers on the so-called ‘compensation culture’ has been absolute rubbish. Don’t believe me? Well look at how useless new regulatory reform has been, according to recent research that revealed a nearly 4 per cent jump in the number of car accident claims made so far in 2013 when compared to last year’s figures.

Just eight months in to 2013 and there’s already been more than 567,000 claims made for damages less than £25,000. This is despite the fact that there have been a spate of new reforms that went into effect supposedly to kerb the ‘ambulance chasing’ behaviour of personal injury solicitors by limiting the legal fees lawyers can claim off clients.

And if you think it’s just the car insurance industry that’s been sent reeling by these revelations, guess again: other types of injury claims activity has remained just as robust. Look at how much Suffolk County Council has had to pay out over the past three years for example, despite the fact that it’s been a good year and a half since these reforms went into effect: more than £1.4 milion!

There have been in excess of 400 payouts made by the local authority alone since the beginning of 2010. However, the most amazing figure isn’t this one but the fact that those 400 claims only represent some 22 per cent of total claims handled by the county council: a full 78 per cent of the claims made against the council never even saw the light of day!

So you tell me: are all these legal reforms actually doing anything to control the costs incurred by the taxpayer or the car insurance policyholder? I’m going to venture out on a limb here and say apparently not. It looks like the problem weren’t legal fees after all – I hope all those reformers and campaigners enjoy having a bit of egg on their face now that they’ve been proven completely and utterly wrong!

Been in a car accident? Get in line.

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 10 Sept 2013:

It seems like the world of personal injury has gone mad recently – especially when it comes down to road traffic accident news this week!

First up, if you’re a personal injury solicitor specialising in car accident claims, you’re going to be busier than ever thanks to the massive car crash in Isle of Sheppey. And when I mean massive, I don’t mean three or four cars and perhaps a lorry – no, I’m talking about well over 100 vehicles with at least that many individuals involved, many of whom are going to be looking to make personal injury claims.

The absolutely unbelievable pile up happened earlier this week on a particularly foggy morning. The total damage from the accident is likely to be upwards of £600,000 – and that’s not counting the 35 motorists that were injured badly enough to need a trip to hospital, or the 8 that were very seriously injured.

Of course insurers have absolutely lost their minds, remarking that they’re likely going to be closer to the tens of millions. This means of course that we’re all going to be hammered with higher premium payments come renewal time, but I’d rather deal with having to pay a few extra pounds instead of being in a 130-car pileup any day of the week and twice on Sundays!

Speaking of going absolutely mad, did you hear about the other incident involving a car crash recently? It might not be nearly as flashy as over a hundred cars in a massive heap on the side of the roadway, but it’s still noteworthy: a pair of siblings beat the tar out of another man after his wife was involved in a car accident with them.

Here’s a pair of winners for you: Devinder and Asher Swarnn confronted Harjinder Singh Dhanda in the aftermath of Mrs Dhanda and Miss Swarnn being involved in a bit of a prang together. Miss Swarnn had originally agreed to pay for the repairs to Mrs Dhanda’s car, but apparently she had a change of heart and enlisted the aid of her brother in attempting to intimidate Mr Dhanda into changing the particulars of their agreement.

When Mr Dhanda proved to be less-than-receptive to such bullying, the two siblings unleashed hell on the poor bloke by physically attacking him.  Of course this just made matters worse for the pair, as now they have some 100 hours of unpaid work to complete in order to pay their debt to society. If you ask me, I hope Mr Dhanda sues the pants off these two for their reckless, offensive behaviour!

Fraudsters gambling with the lives of UK motorists, IFB says

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 27 Nov 2012:

Those who perpetrate ‘cash for crash’ car accident claim fraud are gambling with the lives of honest motorists, according to an Insurance Fraud Bureau report.

The IFB has come down harsh on fraudsters, blaming them for massive car insurance rate hikes as the insurance industry struggles with rising personal injury claims figures stemming from road traffic accidents. Fraud instances contribute to around £400 million in costs every year to honest policyholders, says the IFB’s report, which was published earlier this week. The Bureau, which was established with the purpose of clamping down on instances of fraud, found that one out of every seven claims may be due to organised fraud.

IFB chairman, David Neave, commented on the new report’s findings, remarking that these scammers don’t just do damage to the insurance sector but every single one of its customers due to the premium increases these insurers have to push through. Paying out on these claims is highly expensive, especially since insurers are still paying the success fees of every successful claimant’s personal injury solicitor, to say nothing of the cost of endangering the lives of law-abiding drivers, since fraudsters put them at risk by purposefully causing accidents throughout the length and breadth of the UK, added Mr Neave.

The ill-gotten gains of these scams are being funneled right back into these criminal gangs, the chairman said, with the profits going towards other societal ills such as people trafficking, drug dealing, and illegal firearms. Insurance fraud is absolutely deadly serious, he added, and it is far from being what some feel is a ‘victimless’ crime.

There are around 40 police operations around the country that the IFB is coordinating at the moment in an effort to investigate and dismantle organised instances of insurance fraud. Insurers could stand to lose more than £66 million unless these operations turn out successfully for the IFB and the police.

The Motor Accident Solicitors Society has come out in support of the Bureau’s recent report, remarking that the findings confirm the Society’s suspicions, according to MASS chair Craig Budsworth. Stamping out fraud could reduce injury claims by close to 75,000 instances this year, estimated Mr Budsworth.