Accident solicitors accused of mishandling claim

One personal injury solicitor firm has been accused of negligence in how they handled the personal injury claim of one of their clients, resulting in an out-of-court settlement for £500,000.

Bristol-based personal injury lawyers Clarke Wilmott were taken to court for professional negligence by a former client, Kenny Jordan, a 54 year old man who was involved in an accident in May of 2004 that left him wheelchair-bound. His insurers recommended Mr Jordan to seek legal advice from the personal injury firm, but Clarke Wilmott only settled the claim for a touch over £510,000 – and that’s without ever obtaining any expert evidence or even going to see Mr Jordan in his Manchester home.

Dissatisfied with such a comparatively small compensation award for the life-changing injuries he sustained, Mr Jordan brought suit for negligence, leading Clarke Wilmott to provide the injured man an additional £500,000 from their own coffers. Of course, since the case was settled out of court, the solicitor firm gets to avoid actually making an admission of negligence.

This is, of course, rather ridiculous, especially because nobody just gives up half a million pounds in order to avoid bad public relations. Yes, Clarke Wilmott  may not be in danger of being declared liable as a matter of public record, leaving their reputation technically intact, but anyone with any sense at all would do well to avoid a law firm that not only bungles a case and then throws hush money at an irate client in order to circumvent the impact of any bad publicity.

 

Woman falls down steps & breaks back, seeks compensation

One woman who fell down some steps and broke her back, has taken legal advice from a personal injury solicitor firm and launched a claim for personal injury compensation from the landlord of the property where the incident occurred.

The accident, which occurred to Gillian Drysdale in October of 2008 as she was moving into her new home in Harwich, Essex, occurred when Ms Drysdale slipped and tripped on the steps that led to the front of the Victorian property she was moving her belongings into. The injured woman, who was carrying a box up the stairs backwards in the rain, slipped off the unguarded stairs, falling eight feet and breaking her back; Ms Drysdale now cannot walk unaided and needs a stick to do so, according to her personal injury claims.

The property’s landlord has been named as a defendant in the claim for compensation made by Ms Drysdale on the grounds that the landlord is responsible because her husband painted the steps, causing a risk of slipping in the rain. Ms Drysdale’s legal team is also claiming that the steps required a guard or handrail, as an eight foot drop was unreasonably high.

The landlord’s legal team has contested the claim, arguing that Ms Drysdale is responsible for the accident because she was going up the steps backwards. The case, which was recently heard in London’s High Court, will be ruled upon later this year, according to the statement of the Judge presiding over the matter.

Along with falls from height, lip and trip accidents account for a large proportion of accident claims made in the UK, according to official figures.

Actor blinded in onstage accident, seeks £250k in damages

The personal injury lawyers for an actor injured in an onstage accident that left him bind in one eye and permanently disfigured have asked for £250,000 in personal injury compensation from the London theatre company where the injury occurred.

David Birrell had been appearing in a production of Passion, a Stephen Sondheim play, at the Donmar Warehouse theatre in October of 2010 when the injury occurred. Mr Birrell’s replica gun backfired unexpectedly as the 45 year old award-winning actor performed at the Covent Garden theatre, causing him to lose sight in his right eye and permanently disfiguring him as well.

Mr Birrell is seeking compensation for the damage that has done not just to his personal life but to his career as well, as his injuries have left his right eye ‘blind, shrunken an unsightly’ according to court documents lodged by his personal injury solicitor. The actor has no choice but to conceal his injuries through the use of a ‘cosmetic shell,’ the documents also said, and his cosmetic and functional disability has left him in a disadvantaged position in his chosen line of work.

Mr Birrell will indeed be receiving a damages award, as the theatre company has already admitted its liability in the incident. However, it has not admitted negligence and is instead looking to the makers of the replica gun, a prop company named History in the Making Ltd, to make a contribution to the compensation figure.

History in the Making’s legal representatives have denied any liability as well, stating that prior to supplying the gun to the theatre company, it had been cleaned and serviced competently.

Lawyers making off with the majority of compensation awards?

Reports have been emerging that no win no fee lawyers may be making off with legal fees that positively dwarf their clients’ personal injury compensation awards.

Medical negligence compensation cases were found to be the most lucrative for personal injury solicitors, an example being the £61,268 paid out to the legal team of a family of a patient that died in hospital who only received a £2,000 compensation award. With the fees incurred by the NHS in defending the claim amounting to £31,541, the total cost was in excess of £92,000 – a figure that has left legal experts up in arms.

If that wasn’t bad enough, it was revealed that another case saw the NHS litigation authority billed for more than £200,000 in court costs by personal injury solicitors on a £5,000 negligence claim. The NHS was able to negotiate the legal fees down to £145,000, but with the £32,700 in costs incurred by defending the claim, their total costs were massive in comparison to the actual payout awarded to the claimant.

These ‘extraordinary’ figures are likely to be coming to an end soon, said the Ministry of Justice, thanks to the new Legal Aid Act and the reforms made to no win no fee claims under it.  However, the new Act will not go into effect until April of 2013, which means that up until then, solicitors can continue to charge the NHS Litigation Authority immensely high success fees.

Despite the new limitations to be placed on solicitors, which include limiting their ability to recover success fees from their clients’ compensation payments, there are worries that lawyers will attempt to draw out the length of cases in order to inflate their costs.

Food production employee suffers personal injury at work

The sixteen year old employee of a West Midlands-based food production firm suffered a serious personal injury at work to his hand, leading to substantial fine for the company, it was recently reported.

While the identity of the teenage worker cannot be made public due to legal concerns, personal injury solicitor experts recently said that Phoenix Brands Ltd, the young man’s employer, was called before Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court during a hearing to determine if the company violated health and safety regulations when the teenager injured his hand clearing a blockage on a biscuit crumbling machine located at the company’s Bilston plant. The unnamed worker sustained severe damage to his right hand upon reaching inside the machine, as a rotating blade within the machine, designed to break biscuits into smaller pieces as they progress up a tube, came into contact with his right hand.

According to medical reports, the damage done to the teenager’s hand was so severe that doctors had no choice but to perform an amputation of his middle finger. The severity of the incident prompted the Health and Safety Executive to investigate, with HSE inspectors discovering that there was inadequate guarding on the machine in question, thus permitting workers to access dangerous moving parts of its mechanism while in operation.

As a result of the HSE’ successful prosecution of Phoenix Brands Ltd a Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court, the firm admitted breaching health and safety regulations. The company was given a fine of £7,000 and also told to pay a sum of £4,000 in additional court costs for the part they played in the loss of the teenage worker’s finger.

Much like many other industrial and manufacturing accidents, this incident could have been completely avoided if the firm had simply performed an adequate risk assessment on the machine one HSE inspector remarked after the court’s decision.

Medical negligence payments soar in 2010-2011 financial year

Medical negligence payments made in the 2010-2011 financial year soared, according to the NHS Litigation Authority, with legal experts making the suggestion that the number of personal injury compensation cases in which medical negligence played a part during that period of time has risen by a substantial margin.

£98 million was paid to victims of medical negligence last year, the Litigation Authority’s figures reported, which was found to be nearly double of the £56 million paid out to individuals suffering from undiagnosed or misdiagnosed illnesses in the 2009-2010 financial year – an increase of £42 million in just one year. The number of successful misdiagnosis cases have also increased by 80 per cent over the past half decade, according to related statistics, as there were only 681 successful compensation claims in 2006-2007 at a cost of £50 million; last year saw a total of 1,204 cases successfully brought against the NHS by personal injury solicitor firms.

Out of these more than twelve hundred successful cases, 10 per cent were found to originate from misdiagnosing cancer. The largest compensation award due to one of these mistakes stood at £959,000.

One Department of Health spokesperson commented on the new figures, remarking that there is no place for unsafe care in the NHS. While the lion’s share of people seen by NHS-managed staff receive safe, effective, and good quality care, it’s only right that patients that are left worse off due to mistakes made by NHS staff be given the right to seek compensation for their pain and suffering.

In related news, the General Medical Council recently announced it was appointing a total of 15 new regional officers in order to aid in cracking down on medical negligence occurring within the UK.

Lawyers could net £200k for sick hotel guests

One personal injury solicitor firm could net as much as £200,000 in compensation for hotel guests laid low by a particularly nasty illness, it was recently revealed.

A recent bug that ravaged more than 100 guests of the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire left victims suffering from vomiting and with diarrhoea last week, leading to one firm of injury solicitors to set up a victim hotline in order to provide information on howto make claims for personal injury compensation against the luxury hotel for loss of earnings, medical expenses, and any other costs the bug might have caused.

Patrick McGuire, a lawyer for the firm, said that there could be more than £200,000 in damages from the injury and illness the guests suffered – and that figure doesn’t even include any lost earnings.  While Gleneagles marketing director, Dorothy Welsh, has said that the lion’s share of guests that were affected are back home safe and sound, the hotel was crawling with environmental health officers earlier last week, investigating how the debilitating bug found its way into the hotel in the first place.

The culprit, a particular bug known as a norovirus, is most often transmitted by either contaminated water or food.  Most outbreaks occur due to unhygienic conditions in kitchens or other areas where food is prepared.

Norovirus is very common and could have been brought in by one of the hotel guests, NHS Tayside said, adding that there are one of two guests still suffering from symptoms.   Most guests have recovered fully, the NHS also said.

Lorry driver falls from truck, suffers injury at work

One lorry driver from Devon suffered personal injury at work when he fell from his truck while trying to remove a cover from the load he was hauling, personal injury solicitor experts recently reported.

Lee Waters tumbled to the solid concrete floor below his tipper truck when he fell from the top as he sought to adjust the grain delivery he had been making to the Mole Valley feed mill.  The thirty four year old Devizes native had to spend a full week in hospital, as he suffered both a fractured wrist and a fractured pelvis in his fall from height, and needed to spend a total of eleven weeks in recovery before he could return to work.

The Government’s Health and Safety Executive launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr Waters’ injury, discovering that his employer had neglected to put the proper safety procedure in place that would have made it a certainty that the cover could not be removed in any manner besides safely.  The HSE chose to prosecute Mole Valley Feed Solutions, Ltd in a hearing at Chippenham Magistrates Court, with the South Molton, Devon-based firm being given a fine of £6,000 and told to pay £4,087 in legal fees after it pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations regarding safe working practices at height.

In the wake of the court hearing, one inspector for the HSE remarked that it was absolutely crucial for firms to supply their staff with the equipment necessary to working at height in a safe manner.

Fatal personal injury at work may lead to compensation claim

A fatal personal injury at work may soon lead to the family of the slain man to seek personal injury compensation from his former employers, according to legal experts familiar with the incident.

It was November of 2009 when Christopher Fox was crushed beneath an overturning tractor.  The 60 year old man had been working in Worksop for the GMT Foljambe 1996 Discretionary Trust at the time, and had been working on a project felling trees at the time of the incident.

The tractor, which had been employed in controlling the direction of each tree as it fell, unexpectedly tipped over, subsequently landing on top of the worker and instantly killing him.  In the wake of the tragic fatal accident, the Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident, only to discover that one of the trustees of Mr Fox’s employer, George Michaelt Thornhagh Foljambe, had neglected to offer the worker proper advice on how to operate the equipment he had been using just prior to his death.

THe HSE’s David Butter remarked that tree-felling is an inherently high-risk activity.  Anyone who comes to work on such a project must be given sufficient levels of training in order to be prepared for the task at hand, Mr Butter added, and industry experts say that those who neglect to provide that training to their employees are in danger of being found responsible for any accidents that may occur during the course of any work carried out.

No further information is yet available as to whether the family of the slain worker will be pursuing compensation from his employers.

Teachers are filing more personal injury claims

The number of teachers going to see a personal injury solicitor in the hope of getting compensated for injuries is on the rise, according to the NASUWT.

The teaching union says it has secured compensation to the tune of £12.6 million in the last 12 months for its members. This figure includes claims from teachers who have sustained a personal injury at work, as well as cases of discrimination, stress-related illness and assault.

One teacher received an award of £158,000 after slipping on some mud that had been left on a school floor. Another was awarded £74,689 after she suffered a nervous breakdown brought on when she was threatened by the parent of a special needs child.

The general secretary of the union, Chris Keates, explained that employers who flout health and safety regulations are costing the taxpayer millions in compensation awards. Behind each personal injury claim there is a person whose life will never be the same again.

It’s important that these people can claim recompense, but that is not always adequate compensation if the victim has suffered life-changing injuries.

The NUT has revealed that one of its largest settlements was an award of £222,215 to a teacher who sustained a brain injury at a special needs school. Another union, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said its members had received around £800,000 personal injury compensation for work-related accidents.

Several workers injured in Liverpool concrete incident

The employees of two separate construction companies suffered serious personal injury at work recently in an incident in Liverpool, at the John Moores University, involving 250 tonnes of concrete that collapsed suddenly when a scaffolding failed.

Personal injury solicitor experts say that the incident occurred during the construction of the new Art and Design Academy at the university.  Workers had been constructing the atrium of the building by pumping wet concrete up to the third floor when the scaffolding that had been erected to support the structure suddenly collapsed; according to the Government’s Health and Safety Executive, which investigated the incident, several employees of both companies sustained serious injuries during the collapse after tumbling nearly ten metres into the wet cement underneath them, with injuries including broken bones and also burn injuries to their skin and eyes caused by caustic substances within the cement itself.

HSE Investigators found that the two firms that had been tasked with constructing the atrium, sub-contractor MPB Structures Ltd and general contractor Wates Construction Ltd, had permitted the scaffolding to be built not from a finalised design but a preliminary one that did had not included crucial information.  As a result, the scaffolding failed because it proved incapable of supporting the massive 250 tonne weight of the wet cement.

After a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court where the HSE successfully prosecuted both companies,  Wates Construction and MPB Structures were told to pay identical fines of £50,000 after the companies entered pleas of guilty to breaching health and safety regulations. Both companies were fined £50,000 each after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act.  Construction is one of the most dangerous lines of work to be employed in, according to industry experts, with nearly 30,000 serious injuries and fifty fatal ones occurring in the UK every year.

How much is your sense of taste and smell worth?

A holiday-maker from Scotland has lodged a personal injury claim after he sustained a head injury whilst travelling on an open top bus in New York.

The 61-year-old tourist instructed his personal injury solicitor to fight for personal injury compensation of £1 million because the accident caused him to loss his sense of both taste and smell. The victim said that people take these senses for granted and don’t realise how valuable they are until they’ve lost them.

He explained that he used to enjoy eating hot spicy food, but since the accident he only feels the texture of the food and not the taste. Although he still goes out for meals, it’s nowhere near as enjoyable a pastime as it used to be.

The accident happened when he was on an open top sightseeing bus tour of New York. He was struck on the head by a low-hanging branch that knocked-him out and left him unconscious for a few minutes. He was later taken to hospital for an examination.

The personal injury lawyer acting on behalf of the tourist said this was an unusual case. A jury should be considering a high six-figure sum in compensation. The minimum acceptable settlement has been set at $75,000 (around £47,300) although the victim obviously believes he deserves much more.