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.

The culture of compensation and the accusatory finger

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 1 April 2015:

Once again are people pointing the accusatory finger at personal injury lawyers for fostering a so-called ‘compensation culture’ here in the UK.

It’s a perennial complaint, and one that personal injury solicitors have had to labour under for years now: the number of spurious accident claims has been going through the roof because Brits are being coaxed into making claims in order to pursue cash windfalls. Much of the complaint is complete and utter bollocks of course – especially with new legal reforms seriously curtailing the amount of money lawyers can make in legal fees – but it hasn’t stopped crusaders. At this point it’s even spread to High Court judges, who have begun to throw out more cases that smell either fraudulent or spurious.

In fact, it just happened recently; Mr Justice Mostyn decided to toss out the injury claims made by two immigration officers who reported having serious injuries after a work vehicle they were traveling in collided with a bollard. The pair made what did seem like completely outrageous claims, especially considering how the other occupants of the car weren’t injured in any way – and it was nothing but naked greed that was motivating the two women who made the claims.

In this case I’m not going to argue – it does sound very much like there was something fishy going on. When it comes down to it, it was probably the right thing to toss the case out. Meanwhile other cases slip through the cracks, like the story of an injured schoolteacher who received a massive compensation payment after he slipped and fell on a ketchup sachet of all things.

Essex County Council had to pay through the nose on this one. £90,000 went to the teacher directly, while around £120,000 went to the teacher’s legal team and another £20,000 went to miscellaneous fees. That’s shedloads of money, however you look at it, but there are some strange holes in the teacher’s story that make me wonder what’s going on here.

First of all the incident occurred in 2008 allegedly, yet the teacher didn’t make a claim until the 11th hour in 2011, just before the window of eligibility closed on a possible claim. Have you ever been injured so badly that you deserved £90,000 in compensation yet didn’t immediately file a claim for that cash? Yes, me neither.

Industry bodies attempt to ward off criticism with new rules

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

If there’s any industry that loves to shift blame away from them and on to personal injury solicitors, it’s the insurance market – and they’re at it again.

It’s true – though on the surface the news this week doesn’t seem anything but good for consumers. In fact most people would assume that the announcement by the Association of British Insurers that they’ve ratified a new Code of Conduct that ABI members have signed off on would lead to greater levels of transparency between insurers and their customers.

For the most part, that sentiment is correct – signatories to the new ABI code are bound to provide better customer support to their policyholders in the form of revealing which personal injury lawyer works for or is endorsed by a particular insurer, and supposedly these insurers will reduce the pressure on customers to make accident claims in the event of an RTA or something similar. However, the more paranoid injury claims experts have pointed out that this new code can serve as a smokescreen, enabling insurers to renew their attacks on the legal sector by claiming that ‘ambulance chasing’ injury lawyers are out for their blood.

As I said, I know it sounds like a paranoid’s fever dream but you can’t put anything past the insurance industry. This is the same market that was hiking up the prices of their car hire and repair services in order to artificially increase premium prices for innumerable policyholders, just to pad their own pockets with excess wealth, so you’ll excuse me if I don’t immediately believe this new move is for the best.

Meanwhile, the British Insurance Brokers’ Association followed suit this week as well, barking at the ABI’s heels with their own new code of practice. Honestly though do we need that sort of commitment from Biba? I mean I’m not discounting the integral role brokers play in the insurance industry, but it seems less like something that’s needed and more like a move to invoke feelings of solidarity with the insurance industry whilst currying favour amongst their customer base as well, sort of a ‘playing both sides against the middle’ approach that just seems shrewd and calculating to me. Then again, I’m one of those paranoid individuals that sees a bogeyman behind every corner, so what do I know?

Multitude of older Brits embroiled in injury claims

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

I know that the courts have little regard for age, but it seems that older Brits are increasingly finding themselves in injury claims.

Or at least it certainly feels that way, judging by the kinds of strange personal injury compensation claims that have been publicised lately involving the over-60s. In fact, one Cofton Hackett man in his 60s, a Mr Bruce Wilson, ended up having to pay out on a £2,600 personal injury claim after he got out of his vehicle, punched a cyclist right in the head, and then threw his bicycle like it were a pair of stone tablets and he was Charleton Heston in a fake beard.

The altercation apparently was caused when Mr Wilson nearly hit the cyclist as the older man was trying to get into the passenger side of a vehicle. There was a verbal confrontation, which led to the physical one – and the £5,000 custom racing cycle suffering quite a bit of damage. To Mr Wilson’s credit he did accept full responsibility for the incident even though the cyclist certainly played a role as well.

Of course it’s not all older Brits causing trouble; some are victims as well. One 60 year old man, a former Ford worker, actually just walked off with £33,000 in damages thanks to the hard work of his personal injury solicitor after it was decided that the ‘occupational asthma’ he had developed was due to the poor conditions of the the motor manufacturer’s plant where the gent had worked as a toolmaker for quite some years.

Apparently when you work for years in an environment that’s not vented properly, and for a company that doesn’t provide you with breathing masks or filters, if you spend your days fabricating metal tools you end up breathing in all sorts of terrible steel and cast iron dust. Apparently, that’s likely to cause some rather terrible respiratory problems – something that Ford seemed to not think about until they were presented with this massive bill!

Well they brought it on themselves, if you ask me. Those pillocks should keep a closer eye on the wellbeing of their own employees!

Councils suffer compensation claims, attempt to curb losses

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 21 May 2013:

Local authorities have been absolutely reeling under the effects of a number of personal injury claims lately, and councils have been paying massive payouts.

In fact, Sheffield Council has paid out nearly £30,000 from 2010 to 2012 just from injury claims originating from local schools.  Injuries to both pupils and staff members made up a grand total of more than £27,000, with the youngest claimant, a child that was attacked by a pupil and was left with a wide range of physical injuries in the wake of the assault, being just three years old; personal injury solicitors for the injured child’s family successfully claimed compensation for the sum of £7,250.

Unfortunately, massive payouts such as these have become quite common throughout the UK, and local authorities have been inundated with claims for compensation. Some councils have decided to put new programmes in place in order to reduce the impact of such massive legal bills in the future; one such local authority, Haringey Council, has just recently come forward with a new system for keeping its roads in better condition in the wake of an eye-watering £1 million compensation award the local authority had to pay to one severely injured man.

Previous policy was to fill any pothole Haringey Council was aware of, provided it was at least six centimetres deep. This is most likely the cause of much of the council’s consternation, considering that nearby councils typically fill their potholes at just three centimetres, which leads to less vehicle damage and bodily injury overall.

While Haringey Council hasn’t budged on the six centimetre metric, it has decided to fast-track the filling in of inspected potholes to within just six days, down from the previous policy of 28 days. In addition, more regular road inspections will occur now, as the local authority admitted that it is simply unacceptable that the lion’s share of its roads are only given two inspections a year.

If you ask me, this is exactly how Haringey Council should be addressing the fact that their personal injury compensation costs have grown out of control, especially when compared to other neighbouring councils. I simply don’t understand what took councillors so long to admit that the current way of doing things was simply not working whatsoever in any way; I can only hope that these new policies will be kept up and adopted on a permanent basis after their trial period expires six months from now!

Honda UK prosecuted and fined in wake of work injury claim

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 12 Feb 2013:

It’s been a bad week for the UK arm of a major motor vehicle manufacturer, as they faced prosecution and eventual fines for a personal injury at work.

Personal injury claim specialists report that Honda UK has gotten itself into trouble in the wake of an incident involving the loss of two fingers from the hand of one of its workers. Cesar Santos, a fifty five year old employee, had been going about his duties in using a piece of emery cloth to polish a piece of metal as it spun on a lathe at the Swindon-based car manufacturer plant, injury claims experts say, when his glove caught in the machinery and dragged his hand within, resulting in the loss of two of his fingers and a six week recovery period before he could return once more to his job.

The incident was investigated by inspectors sent out by the Health and Safety Executive, which discovered – much to Honda UK’s chagrin – that the firm had neglected to provide a safe system of working to its employees. On top of that, the company was found to have also blatantly ignored their own glove policy – a policy that expressly forbids employees from wearing gloves while operating machines at the plant.

The HSE dragged Honda UK into Swindon Magistrates’ Court after discovering the firm’s secret shame, prosecuting them to the point where Honda simply admitted to breaching health and safety regulations. Honda UK received a weighty £10,000 fine for its sins, though experts say there could be even more costs in the firm’s future if the injured Mr Santos makes a claim for personal injury compensation.

In the wake of the hearing at Swindon Magistrates’ Court, an inspector for the HSE remarked that if Honda UK had simply made sure that its policy of not allowing gloves to be worn by anyone operating machinery, the entire incident could have all too easily been completely avoided.

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.

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.