Scammers caught red-handed faking personal injury claims

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 14 Oct 2014:

In news that makes me absolutely giddy with glee, I can happily report that more scammers are getting caught red-handed as they try to fake accident claims.

Fraud is a serious problem when it comes to personal injury claims, simply because it does more than make injury lawyers look bad. Since most personal injury compensation is paid out by insurance companies, fraudulent claims end up costing insurers millions – and the end result is that these insurers end up hiking up premium payments for law-abiding folk like you and me to recover their costs.

One of the bigger ticket items when it comes to insurance fraud has been whiplash claims, and that makes the next story so sweet to me: fraudsters trying to get away with a £75,000 crash for cash whiplash claim got shut down hard when they decided to try to victimise the driver of a lorry that just so happened to have a dashboard-mounted camera. Needless to say that when the authorities surveyed the footage it became clear that the so-called ‘injured parties’ had caused the crash themselves, putting a very quick end to their bid for cash. Fit every vehicle on the road with these dashcams I say, regardless of the privacy issues this may raise; we could wipe out car accident claims fraud overnight!

Of course scammers don’t have to get behind the wheel to perpetrate claims fraud. In fact it’s easy to claim you were hurt by tripping over a bit of uneven pavement or that you slipped on the wet floor of your local Tesco in an attempt to fake a personal injury claim. However, these bastards aren’t getting away with such activities scot-free any more either, especially since reports have emerged that the City of London is cracking down on the practice by letting the police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department take a crack at any suspicious activity.

The IFED has been especially busy as of late, as it was revealed that they just collared 11 scammers who had attempted to pull the wool over the eyes of insurers on fake slip and trip claims. It warms the very cockles of my cold, calloused heart to hear of such wonderful news, I tell you; I can only hope that even more of these bastards are caught in the future.

Is access to justice being constrained for injured Brits?

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

Personal injury solicitors try their hardest to get money in the hands of those that need it most, but sometimes access to justice is hard to come by.

It’s not anything that injury lawyers are responsible for; quite the opposite in fact. Most lawyers will tirelessly campaign for greater access to justice instead of having it curtailed. Still, sometimes insurance companies – which have the kinds of deep pockets that can help you sway Government ministers or MPs – campaign just as hard for more constraints to be put on people looking to make accident claims… and sometimes they win.

However, the fight is being taken up by more than just lawyers; major organisations are speaking out against insurers and the steps they take to not pay out on personal injury compensation claims. One such organisation, Motorcycle Law Scotland, has been speaking out long and hard against insurers’ plans to make it harder for people with whiplash claims to come forward – and the group’s founder, Brenda Mitchell, has said she’s had enough. Insurers are treating the injured inhumanely, Mitchell said, and this goes doubly so for people suffering from whiplash.

I’m not going to say that fraudulent claims aren’t problematic – they are, to be sure – but in their zeal to weed out scammers, insurers are trodding upon the rights of legitimately injured Brits that need help. Of course there’s more going on than just insurers being stingy – the Government has been playing hard to get with injured soldiers for years now, and one former Army corporal has had enough: he’s so upset at being denied compensation for the injuries he sustained in a suicide bombing that he actually gave back his Armed Forces Veterans Badge. Can you imagine? A decorated soldier who suffered for his country, and the Government can’t get its act together enough to help the poor bloke out? If you ask me, that’s just bloody unconscionable.

Making matters worse is the fact that the man is also suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and has been since the explosion he was caught in. That incident was in 2006 – yet the Army’s medical staff didn’t diagnose him properly with PTSD until 2012. For those of you keeping score at home that’s six long years the former corporal had to go without any sort of support – all because the Army couldn’t get its act together!

Local authorities paying through the nose again

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 3 June 2014:

Here we go again: every time new reports come out about how local authorities have been paying out on accident claims the compensation culture pundits come out.

It happens without fail, and I’ve never seen it not occur – some news article gets published about how someone slipped and fell and ended up with thousands in personal injury compensation that comes out of taxpayer money, sending pundits into a self-righteous rage over how greedy injury solicitors are. This week it was stories about how much West Sussex County Council and Leicester City Council have been spending shedloads of cash, and it’s started yet another row about how compensation culture is ruining the UK. Well bollocks to that I say – let’s take a closer look at this weeks’s stories,e h?

So West Sussex County Council spent £23,000 to compensate an injured school staffer. Do you know why? He slipped in a wet puddle in a school corridor, falling and injuring their foot and ankle bad enough to do damage to the tendons. Sure, his compensation award ended up being more than a first-year teacher would earn from the council, but the poor bastard ends up crippling himself in a slippery corridor and  you’re going to quibble about a few thousand quid? What kind of heartless monster are you? Besides it’s not like the council is in the business of just signing off on every compensation claim that comes across their desk.

Now it’s true that in the long run £23,000 might not be that much to a local council, but over several years these compensation payments add up. Leicester City Council recently revealed that it’s paid out nearly £2 million over the past five years which is by any and all accounts a kingly sum. Of course several of those years were before the legal reforms limiting legal fees payable to law firms, so the figures are skewed. But none of those pundits ever mention that do they?

Solicitors work overtime, win injured pupils thousands

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

Personal injury solicitors in Doncaster and North Yorkshire have been striking whilst the iron is hot, earning major accident claims for nearby injured pupils.

The past five years have been rough for Doncaster Council, especially after a new Freedom of Information request revealed that there’s been almost £33,000 paid out to hurt pupils in personal injury compensation. Scuttlebutt says that the heightened number of accidents – many of them slip trip and falls – were due to poor staff training programmes, which is a pleasant change from so-called ‘industry experts’ immediately pointing a finger at personal injury lawyers trying to foster a compensation culture to line their own pockets.

However it’s not just Doncaster in the hot seat either – North Yorkshire County Council is out more than twice that figure over the last five years. A sum total of £68,000 has flowed out of the coffers of the council’s insurance company to pay for the injuries caused – again – by poorly trained staff and faulty school equipment. Meanwhile I can’t help but wonder how much less expensive it would have been for these local authorities to simply increase their budgets to properly train their staff and provide their schools with the best equipment they can afford.

Now I won’t mince words: it costs a pretty penny to make a personal injury claim, what with court costs and legal fees. As a result, defendants in these types of claims – which are typically insurance companies for private employers and local authorities – do their best to discourage what they see as excessive claims being made, usually by trying to get them classified as spurious. Sometimes this works but most of the time it doesn’t – and that creates shedloads of frustration which in turn leads to accusations of injury lawyers drumming up business when there shouldn’t necessarily be any. This is why you hear terms like ‘compensation culture’ thrown about like mad.

Of course there are plenty of fraudulent and spurious injury claims made every day in the UK, but it’s not nearly as bad as these insurance companies claim it to be. If you ask me it’s just a simple and easy task to try to shift the blame away from local authorities and private employers when they were caught doing something they shouldn’t. Why can we affix blame where it lies and stop trying to pass the buck all the time?

 

Injury solicitors continue to win big for claimants

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 24 Dec 2013:

No matter the type of injury or accident, injury solicitors almost never fail to find the best personal injury compensation for claimants.

And this week has been no exception, either – if you’ve seen the news stories this week you’ve probably seen it already, but it’s a fantastic example: it turns out that an octogenarian pensioner who suffered a terrible fall at the Glengoyne Distillery near Killearn – a fall so bad that she fractured her ankle – ended up receiving £12,000 in damages for her personal injury claim. The poor woman had simply been on holiday when she tripped down the distillery’s stairs, and her injury left her with some long-lasting pain and mobility issues that her personal injury lawyers were able to parlay into the sizable sum she received.

Still, it could be much worse – much worse, like what happened to Toby Corps, an 11 year old native of Ashford, whilst he was on holiday with his own family. Several years ago he and his family had been in Tunisia when he took a dart to the eye!

Now as absolutely excruciating as a broken ankle is – and let’s not split hairs here, it’s positively horrid, such a bone fracture – I can’t even imagine the agony of getting a dart thrown at your eye. Toby went through it himself whilst his family was staying at a Tunisian hotel, thanks to the poor toss of another child, and he’s had to go through surgery for a cataract removal. Not only that, but the incident detached his retina as well!

Luckily, Toby’s family has finally had their day in court, thanks to the personal injury solicitor team they have working for them. It’s still early, but it looks like that Toby’s going to receive an absolutely fantastic compensation award of £50,000.

I’m not saying that it’s ever going to take away the memory of that horrific day when he ended up with that dart in his eye – let’s face it, nothing is going to ever erase that – but that’s a rather generous award. I’m sure it accounts for his mental and emotional pain and suffering as well as his physical agony; that’s only fair, in my opinion.

The fickle face of the personal injury sector

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

Sometimes, the personal injury sector can take one firm of injury lawyers to untold heights; other times it can bring them low. This week is no exception.

The personal injury compensation marketplace giveth and it taketh away, and sometimes it can appear to be capricious and somewhat cruel in its machinations. That’s what Paul Roberts learned recently, as his personal injury law firm headquartered in the North West of England, had to scale back on its innovatie and groundbreaking plans for an alliance of nearly 100 solicitor firms across England and Wales.

Mr Roberts had created the eLawyers initiave some time ago, hoping to entice ten firms each from nine regions across England and Wales to go all in with his idea of an advertising scheme that would gather up potential claimants and distribute them geographically to the member firms. Unfortunately the adoption of his incredibly ambitions scheme has stalled, and Mr Roberts has had no choice but to reduce his lofty goal to simply scrape up an alliance of the best and brightest in the North West instead.

It’s a shame, but sometimes things just don’t get off the ground. However, just to the north it’s a different story altogether, as another firm recently reported this week that it’s been absolutely soaring. Reporting a ‘record-breaking’ year, Digby Brown LLP said that its turnover has increased as well as its profits in a dazzling display of success! Good on you, lads – keep up the stellar work – and feel free to pass along some tips down south to poor Mr Roberts.

Of course there are some very marked differences between the way personal injury compensation claims are handled in Scotland when compared to England and Wales. This could be part of why Digby Brown has been so successful lately while Mr Roberts and his eLawyers idea ended up foundering on the rocks off the coast. It’s a shame that such geographical differences can wreak havoc with a man’s dreams; perhaps Mr Roberts should consider relocating his firm a bit further north? I wonder if Digby Brown is hiring new solicitors. It’s worth a try, isn’t it?

Insurer ire with injury lawyers could harm claimants

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 5 Nov 2013:

It’s no surprise that the insurance industry is at the throat of injury lawyers, but insurers’ reticence to pay their legal bills could affect the innocent.

Whiplash injury claims are expensive cases to bring right now. Luckily, claimants don’t have to worry about these costs since most lawyers operate on a conditional, no win no fee basis, which is integral for helping an injured person preserve their cash reserves if they’re unable to work, but insurers absolutely hate paying out on whiplash claims – and just this week if was revealed that legal fees and court costs per whiplash injury claim amounts to about £2,500 per case on average.

These fees are unbearable, so say the insurance industry, which lobbied heavily for legal reforms to be enacted a few years ago. Of course that new legislation has done absolutely nothing to curb costs – in fact the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries said that these costs have gone up by 15 per cent over the past three years. Will the new Legal Aid bill that was signed into law on 1 April of this year make more of a difference? Maybe, but the jury is still out on that one.

Now if you ask me, the focus is being placed in the wrong area when it comes to controlling costs. Yes insurers are paying out on these legal claims, but that’s their job – they collect a little bit of cash from everyone so they can pay out in the event of an accident occurring. You know if there was even half as much effort put forward to discourage spurious whiplash claims as the insurance industry spends in trying to rob personal injury solicitors from the legal fees they earn, maybe we wouldn’t have as much of a problem – and perhaps we can put an end to terrible legislation that does nothing but reduce access to justice for the legitimately injured.

Towards that end the Government is trying something new: this week it was made known that independent medical panels are going to be used soon to make determinations as to whether claimants are actually suffering from whiplash or not. Good luck on that – it’s not exactly easy to categorise right now. Maybe the Government uses smarter doctors than the rest of the country, but I doubt they’ll make any determinations different than your run of the mill GP.

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!

You just can’t keep a good injury solicitor down

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 3 Sept 2013:

Even in a climate of intense scrutiny and outright hostility, personal injury solicitors are valiantly standing their ground against their detractors.

In fact, The Law Society just won a major victory after it was accused that a new advertising campaign it had run was allegedly in breach of the code of the Advertising Standards Authority. Apparently the story goes that there was a ‘Don’t Get Mugged’ advert campaign that ran through some of July and much of August – and its content ruffled more than a few feathers.

It’s funny because all the advert really did was urge people that had been in accidents to turn to personal injury lawyers instead of settling up with an insurer directly. However, someone got their knickers in a twist, which resulted in four complaints being made to the ASA that the advert campaign was derogatory towards insurers.

Of course, the ASA found upon examining the issue that the complaints were absolutely rubbish, and it told the Law Society that it was safe from any sort of recriminations. Honestly if you ask me someone got a bit too hot under the collar by the advert campaign, considering how there might be more than just a grain of truth in the idea that insurers are out for your hard-earned cash; methinks someone doth protest too much, for what it’s worth.

Not only did The Law Society prove that its adverts were fair, other individual solicitor firms are standing up and speaking out against the actions of insurers lately as well. In fact, one personal injury law firm has even been so bold to call for a public apology from the car insurance sector after it was revealed yet again how a major insurer saw a massive increase in profits.

If you don’t have a car insurance policy with Admiral, you probably know someone that does. It’s the second largest insurer in the UK, and it’s just revealed how it just saw first half profits increase by 6 per cent year-on-year, and that translates to nearly £10 million more in profits.

Yet in the same breath Admiral and the rest of the car insurance industry are always crying and going on about how their profit margins are so tight, especially because of the so-called ‘compensation culture’ gripping the UK. To that I say pull the other one, lads; nobody believes you any more!

Councils under fire from the injured

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 13 Aug 2013:

Local authorities have been facing withering fire lately from personal injury solicitors looking to represent the interests of their hurt clients.

It’s hard, trying to exact personal injury compensation from a local council; you could have the best injury lawyers in the world yet you could still face an uphill battle. This is exactly what’s happening to one poor pensioner who slipped on some pavement outside her home – her local authority has refused to accept any responsibility for her injuries.

Cambridgeshire County Council has clammed up when it comes to the personal injury claims made by 72 year old Margaret Burns, despite the fact that she suffered long-lasting and painful injuries to her hip, back and foot. The elderly pensioner claims that she injured herself when she lost her footing on gravel that the county council had spread on a nearby residential drive, but the council’s insurers have said that there’s no way she’s getting even a penny because the roads were supposedly inspected regularly by the local authority.

Now if you ask me this sounds like a load of bollocks on the part of the insurer. You’re telling me that the gravel just managed to miraculously materialise under the poor woman’s feet like that? No, it ended up on the pavement because it had been used on the roadways – and if the county council had been making ‘regular’ inspections, wouldn’t council workers have been dispatched to keep the pavements clear?

I’m quite sympathetic to Mrs Burns and I hope she can get the county council to help her out. I swear it’s like these people just don’t care about members of the public even a little bit.

At least things are a bit different in Essex County Council, where the local authority has been making good on claims made by pupils and staff injured on the premises of north Essex schools. Ironically most of these injuries are slips and trips – just like the one Mrs Burns suffered from – but here there seems to be some accountability at least!

The county council recently released some official figures as to what sort of injuries occurred and, in some cases, even revealed the amount of compensation awarded. Employees at infant schools have been awarded sums of £500 after having to weather an assault by a pupil in one case, while another ended up hurting themselves whilst attempting to demonstrate an aerobics move on a wet patch of grass. At least there’s someone getting compensated here in this case!

Lawyers work round the clock for their injured clients

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 9 July 2013:

Personal injury lawyers have been working round the clock for their clients lately, especially in situations where damages are quite warranted.

I understand that quite a few of you out there may think that most injury lawyers are just ambulance chasers working overtime to do nothing but create a so-called ‘compensation culture’ here in the UK, but don’t forget that there are shedloads of good solicitors out there too. If you need some evidence of that, he’s a news story that surfaced this week where one mum has been awarded personal injury compensation for the nasty burn her young son suffered on his leg when a nursery worker tripped, spilling scalding hot chicken fat on the lad.

Staff at Leeds-based Kids Academy in Holt Park originally told Katie Brewster that her son Harrison spilled some soup on himself, causing the burn. However the truth soon came out: it wasn’t Harrison’s fault at all but actually a nursery assistant that spilled a cooked chicken dish on the poor boy, causing quite severe second-degree burns on his leg.

Can you imagine? First allowing an accident like that to happen, then trying to cover it up by blaming the child himself. I’d be hopping mad if the same happened to my child, and Mrs Brewster did the only right thing: she took legal advice and sued the bloody pants off the nursery.

Well, there’s a happy ending here, as the insurance company for the nursery admitted liability for Harrison’s injuries. The incensed mum just walked out of Leeds County Court this week with a sizable settlement, and the nursery deserves every bit of scorn they’ve gotten for trying to pull such a fast one.

Speaking of pulling a fast one, there’s another case of a company dragging its feet in the wake of a very serious incident; one gas company is facing appeals from the surviving family members of a man who fell victim to an asbestos-related illness who died from cancer.

82 year old Charles Passmore finally succumbed from asbestos-related cancer last year. The former South West Gas stoker most likely came into contact with the substance during the course of his work in Swindon and Barnstaple, where he worked for over a decade, but South West Gas’ successor company, National Grid, has yet to investigate the matter themselves.

Instead the firm has remarked that if Mr Passmore’s family would only contact them directly, they’d look into the matter. How much would you like to wager that the family’s injury solicitors are going to contact National Grid shortly, eh?

Don’t be so quick to blame lawyers for spurious claims

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 2 July 2013:

Everywhere I go I’m constantly reading news stories about how the nation’s personal injury solicitors are to blame for spurious injury claims – enough already!

You know it’s not like there are these injury lawyers that just rove the countryside looking for idiots that are willing to pretend they’ve been hurt in order for them to run up their legal bills. Yes, there are some rather disreputable law firms out there but they wouldn’t get far without some particularly nasty clients – clients just like David Ribchester, a 31 year old man who tried to claim nearly £1 million in damages for a ‘wrist injury’ when he was actually just fine!

Ribchester was quick to claim that the injuries he sustained whilst on the job in 2006 left him unable to perform everyday tasks and even made it impossible to pick up his infant daughter. Meanwhile he was just a lazy, conniving bastard – and his insurers caught him in the act of trying to defraud them, filming him doing all the things he said he couldn’t do.

There’s good news, though: for his attempted fraud, Ribchester will be spending some eight months in jail now. It’s a shame he’ll be separated from his daughter but maybe he should have thought of that before trying to scam hundreds of thousands of pounds from his insurance provider! I swear some people.

You know injury lawyers do plenty of good as well; for every injury law firm representing a David Ribchester, there’s shedloads that are actually representing the interests of legitimately injured people who deserve every last penny of their massive settlements. A prime example of this is how one 17 year old teenage girl was awarded £4 million in the wake of a ghastly road traffic accident at the age of nine that left her wheelchair-bound.

The brave teen has been coping with her disabilities since that day, and even though she’s paralysed from a spinal injury and cannot breathe without a ventilator she has gone on to finish her AS levels. On top of that she’s looking to go into languages as a career once she goes on to university – and now that she has received this massive injury claim she’ll be able to do anything she wants, knowing that her medical needs will be met safely and reliably.

The teenager’s personal injury solicitor team was absolutely key in securing her the funding she so desperately needs. Surely you can’t argue that she was working with ambulance chasers now can you?