Teen wins right to medical negligence award from NHS

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 14 April 2015:

A teenager tragically injured due to medical negligence has won the right to seek personal injury compensation from the NHS for his catastrophic injuries.

The 17 year old, whose name is of course being withheld from the press for legal and privacy reasons, ended up suffering from acute cerebral palsy shortly after his birth whilst still in hospital. The poor boy is affected in all four of his limbs, negating his ability to ever live independently, and according to Judge Graham Robinson from the High Court in London there’s no way he would ever be able to live his life without substantial care going forward.

The teenager’s parents called on the judge to approve a settlement, which has now opened the path for a complete assessment of how much he would be able to receive on his personal injury compensation claim. The lad’s personal injury solicitors fingered Barnsley District Hospital for his injuries, pointing out that failing to treat the teen’s blood disorder in a timely manner after his birth was the cause of his disability.

True to form, Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said there was no way they could be liable for the 17 year old’s injuries. However, Judge Robinson has decided to push for a settlement now instead of letting the case proceed to trial, which would of course be long and drawn-out, costing both sides shedloads of cash in the process. The compromise, the judge said, would benefit both parties the most – so now the teenager can look forward to at least some sort of compensation sooner rather than later from the NHS.

Honestly I hope he gets millions from those incompetent bastards. The poor lad has acute cerebral palsy, for pity’s sake! Do you have any idea how absolutely debilitating a condition like that actually is? There’s no way he’d be able to live anything even approaching a normal life without round the clock care, and that costs incredible, mind-boggling amounts of money. The only other option would be him relying on his parents, who would eventually pass on before him and leave him stuck in a hellish nightmare of a life.

Let’s just hope the NHS takes all this into account before it tries to buy the poor teen off with an unacceptably low compensation settlement.

£26 million spent on compensation awards for teachers, staff

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended April 2015:

It’s been revealed that a massive £26 million was spent over the course of last year on personal injury compensation claims made by school teachers and staff.

The new information came to light right as the NAWST and NUT union conferences began this week, showcasing just exactly how much teachers and staff were pulling down after their personal injury solicitors got their hands on local authorities. There were some rather impressive rewards associated with work accident claims, such as the mind-boggling £74,000 a 53 year old teacher was awarded after she tripped on a carpet and fell against some classroom shelving, suffering a serious head injury that actually saw her memory impaired as a result.

Claims measured in the thousands, with one teacher walking away with £5,000 after she fell over after she caught her foot on a coat. Other injuries, such as the one a teacher suffered after slipping on a wet patch of floor, saw an impressive £70,000 being awarded to the teacher; she actually ended up having to retire early due to her injuries, especially as the fall triggered an early onset of arthritis in her hip. In another case, a PE teacher who injured himself as he demonstrated the long jump limped off with a £41,000 award because of the soft tissue injuries he suffered to his leg as a result.

It’s obviously no laughing matter at how many serious injuries occur in schools across the UK. However, it could be said that the millions local authorities have had to pay out for legitimate injuries could have been put to better use somewhere else if only these schools were in better condition. You tell me – do you think that £26 million couldn’t have been poured into upkeep and maintenance, which would have then avoided all those injuries in the first place? I’ll wager there would have even been millions left over after keeping all these schools in better kip.

Look, I’m not saying that accidents don’t happen – of course they do, and everyday. But these accidents can have expensive consequences – wouldn’t it be best to try to limit them as much as possible?

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!

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!

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!

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.

Nobody likes having to deal with multiple injury claims

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

Whether it’s just a handful of personal injury claims or an unending avalanche of them, even having to deal with just one can seriously ruin your day.

Nothing’s worse than being involved in a personal injury compensation claim, especially for private trusts and local authorities. The bigger the pockets on an organsiation – and the more responsibility they have – the more they seem to get hit by claims and those ubiquitous personal injury solicitor fees. It’s happening right now with Essex County Council, as the local authority is facing down some 15 individual claims for injuries related to slips and trips in Brentwood High Street.

The country council is already out of some £7 million in costs for its controversial decision to ‘fix’ the street, as doing so managed to take the piss out of many local residents back in 2009 when the refurbishment initially took place. Well, now it’s even worse with the double handful of claims the council now has to deal with.

Meanwhile it could always be worse. How worse you ask? Well let me tell you: imagine that you were in charge of Jimmy Savile’s estate and you had some 160 claimants beating down your door because of the man’s supposed proclivities. Yes, that’s right, there are 160 possible claimants waiting to get a piece of the old man now that he’s dead and gone – and after spending 84 years on the planet it seems old Jim sure did ‘fix’ quite a few people – and not in a good way!

It’s gotten so bad that a High Court judge had to order a compensation fund st up for the man’s supposed victims. This has of course made the managers of Savile’s estate practically apoplectic, especially since claimants are emerging from the shadows like circus clowns from a Volkswagen Beetle. The worst thing is Savile is safely out of reach, considering how he’s pushing daisies. Would he be contrite? Embarrassed? Quivering with righteous indignation at all the allegations? We can only wonder, I suppose. I’d like to think that Savile would tell all his detractors to jog on, proclaiming his saintly innocence until the very last even in the face of overwhelming evidence, but that’s just me.

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!