Sometimes it’s the personal injury lawyers who are to blame

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 3 March 2015:

It’s not something that’s easy to face or even to talk about, but sometimes the injured suffer because their personal injury lawyers are to blame for suffering.

In fact, there’s a very noteworthy example of this that just hit the news this week in the form of how 42 year old Shaunna Baynes ended up in a world of pain and suffering after celebrating her 40th birthday. Shaunna had a fantastic time visiting Graceland in the United States – the woman is a self-avowed Elvis fanatic – only to suffer damage to her hip and a broken nose on the flight back when she stumbled over a British Airways worker.

After getting home, the injured woman contacted a personal injury solicitor to seek legal advice in making an accident claim against British Airways. However, the solicitor firm neglected to make a personal injury compensation claim in time, resulting in Shaunna being given £2,000 from the lawyers instead as a consolation prize.

Now, I will say that the solicitor firm at least did the right thing in owning up to its mistake and paying the poor injured woman out of their own pocket. However, I also have to say this: what sort of incompetent pillocks manage to cock up so badly like this?

Do you know what happened? The solicitor in question thought he had three years to make a claim when the limit is actually two. For someone who claims to have had years of experience dealing with personal injuries, an oversight of this level is the equivalent of forgetting that you need to have your licence and insurance before getting behind the wheel to drive. It’s infuriating and absolutely unbelievable that people like this have been operating in this world.

Who knows what other ways these solicitors have cocked up other cases? They could be ruining lives and bollixing up court cases left and right. It’s rather an embarrassment to the entire personal injury community, if you ask me; I know I would be absolutely bloody mortified if this happened to a law firm I was involved with. Lord, I would never be able to show my face in public again

Why do personal injury claims take so long sometimes?

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 24 Feb 2015:

If there’s one thing that always makes people wonder, it’s how sometimes personal injury claims can take literally decades to resolve themselves.

In fact, if you were to look at the news this week you’d surely leave scratching your head, as one of the most prominent stories in the press was how 24 year old Annie Woodland, a woman who had suffered life-changing injuries in a near-drowning when she was 10 years old, had to wait nearly a decade and a half to receive her personal injury compensation award. That’s an incredible delay by any stretch of the imagination; sure, the wheels of justice might grind slowly, but 14 years? That seems a bit much if you ask me.

Or if you ask anyone, really. Even personal injury solicitors will wince and say that such a long turnaround is rather unpleasantly rare. So what caused the long delay? Well, the secret is, of course, in determining who was going to pay Woodland’s £3 million compensation award. The woman had been on a school trip to Basildon’s Gloucester Park Pool at the time of the injury, but she and the rest of the pupils were under the supervision of both a contracted swim instructor and a lifeguard for the facility; there was a conflict between whether Essex Council should be paying for her injuries or if the contractor should be.

Essex Council fought long and hard against paying the bill, stating that if they acquiesced it would mean that it could find itself liable for any number of accidents and injuries that occur on school trips even when pupils were being supervised by non-council employees and staff. The council went on to say that it would likely have to encourage fewer trips to be taken by schoolchildren as a result, something it called a ‘chilling’ effect that would negatively impact the education of children within the local authority’s reach. Meanwhile I think it just came down to not wanting to shell out that kind of cash, despite all the pain and suffering that Woodland has gone through since she nearly drowned.

So on the one hand I can kind of understand Essex Council’s position – but on the other hand, making this injured woman wait 14 years on a procedural issue? Kind of makes my stomach turn.

Sometimes the personal injury compensation sector is bizarre

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 1 July 2014:

If there’s anything you can count on, it’s that sometimes things just go completely awry… and the personal injury compensation sector is no different.

This week the news reports were positively jammed with two stories that are the exact opposite – and are also the complete reverse of how things in a fair and just world would work out. They involve an innocent pensioner suffering grave injuries and having her personal injury claims denied and a drug dealer that is soon to be the recipient of a massive award after he was in a debilitating car accident.

Yes, you read that right: the poor, sweet old pensioner won’t even get her day in court, as her local authority has completely denied her ability to even entertain a personal injury claim, even as the drug dealer – who had something like 240g of cannabis in his jacket – is told he’s cleared to find a  personal injury solicitor and make a road traffic accident claim for what could easily be hundreds of thousands of pounds. It’s stories like this that make people’s blood boil – mine included of course – at the sheer injustice in this world.

I really don’t know how things like this happen, except perhaps God has a decidedly wicked and ironic sense of humor. It was certainly no laughing matter when poor Trixie Offord tripped and fell over a pothole that Bucks County Council had classified as not significantly deep or wide enough to cause damage two weeks beforehand. Mrs Offord broke her wrist, damaged her face, and was obviously rattled by the whole experience only to be told that she essentially couldn’t have possibly hurt herself on that pothole because some stuffed shirt measured it as too shallow to cause harm. Bollocks to that, I say!

Meanwhile Sean Delaney, who had been riding in the passenger seat of his friend and fellow drug dealer’s Mercedes 500SL, ended up in a coma after a particularly nasty RTA. He broke bones all throughout his body, punctured a lung, and ended up with bleeding in the brain as well. The bloke has permanent, life-changing injuries as a result. Normally I’d just say, ‘well that’s what you get for dealing drugs you bloody berk’ and call it a day, but apparently the courts feel otherwise, clearing his way to make a compensation claim against the driver’s insurance company. What a mixed-up, unjust world!

Personal injury solicitors go to work to bring needed solace

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 24 June 2014:

Plenty of people will roll their eyes at the part personal injury solicitors play in society but sometimes they can come to the rescue of those that need it.

In fact, in the most high-profile case that was publicised this week – an incident that has peeled back and laid bare the terrible details surrounding a vicious child predator that worked at a high-profile London school for years without being caught – personal injury lawyers are playing a major role in providing at least some cold comfort to the families of the children this monster abused.

Southbank International School had employed William Vahey, a convicted paedophile from America, for several years. Whilst he worked at the elite private school he did terrible things to some 60 children, according to the grisly evidence, and while the sick, cowardly bastard went and took his own life after he was caught red-handed trying to repeat his performance at a Nicaraguan school, reparations for the pain and suffering he has left in his wake has fallen squarely on the shoulders of Southbank – and if you ask me, the school bears full responsibility for employing this horrid monster as a teacher for years.

The school is easily going to be slapped with enough personal injury claims to exceed £1 million in the end, experts say, based on the fact that the typical award for instances such as this range from £30,000 to as much as £30,000 per person. With a possible 60 personal injury compensation cases coming the school’s way, they’re in some very hot water – and for what it’s worth I hope they get wrung out for every last penny they have.

Will any amount of money ever restore the innocence and sanity of a child that’s been victimised in this way? Of course not. I’m sure each and every one of the parents of these poor schoolchildren would much rather have their child’s psyche intact instead of the cash. However, when it comes to putting the shattered life of an abused child back together, the ability to provide for the child’s needs in order to give them the time and attention needed to heal can, sadly, often be dependent on vast sums of money. Any family that ends up the recipient of a hefty damages award can at least rest easy that they will be able to afford whatever help their child needs to restore some semblance of sanity to their lives after being victimised so brutally and completely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Past returns with a vengeance as future looks uncertain

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 25 March 2014:

The realm of personal injury claims becomes increasingly difficult to navigate as new regulations loom on the horizon and old injury cases come home to roost.

If there’s anything constant, it’s the fact that the law always changes and evolves. Ask any personal injury lawyer and they’ll tell you the same: case law adapts over time and the legal landscape shifts along with it. However, sometimes it seems that change comes so quickly and from so many different quarters that it can exhaust even the most veteran of personal injury solicitors.

A good example of this is how old cases that were seemingly decided years ago can come back with a vengeance, such as the personal injury compensation case made by Joanne Dunhill. The 53 year old woman ended up with around £12,000 in damages several years ago after a catastrophic accident but the Supreme Court recently took another look at the case, announcing that she may be owed more money than she originally received as new facts came to light about the nature of her injuries and the original case as it unfolded all those years ago.

Now this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it’s not terribly rare either; in fact many cases might get revisited from time to time. Many judges tend to avoid doing it just on the fact that it could have serious repercussions for case law and already set precedent, but when a case is strong enough to warrant it it’s only natural – and I’m glad that Mrs Dunhill might get a bit more money than she originally received. Of course, there could be more than just justice being sought by British courts – especially if allegations made by the Law Society this week turn out to be true.

The Law Society says that the new ‘Jackson reforms’ that went into effect recently have changed the way jurisprudence is conducted in the UK in a fundamental way. Courts now are more interested in managing administrative costs than providing access to justice, claims the Law Society, and that’s bad news for anyone who’s in dire need of legal aid.

It’s not just the Law Society that’s had it with the Jackson reforms. The Civil Justice Council has also taken issue, especially since the end effect has seen legal bills for claimants and clients increase. The reforms are an unmitigated failure claims the CJC based on the fact that there’s so much inconsistency with these new rules, and that it takes so bloody long to comply with them. It’s a damned shame considering these reforms were originally imagined as a way to support claimants and not discourage them from making claims, but what can you do? This is what happens when good ideas are given to the Government: they’re ruined, sometimes irrevocably.

Just what exactly constitutes a good injury claim nowadays?

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

It seems to me that some people might not have the whole ‘this is a valid personal injury claim’ concept down with complete clarity judging by this week’s news.

In fact it’s a mixed bag of ‘so obvious you don’t need to be a personal injury solicitor to understand it’ and ‘what were they thinking’ that it makes me absolutely wonder. I mean look at this – the first news story that broke this week is how a 34 year old Co-op branch manager ended up winning a major personal injury compensation case after her supervisor instructed her to repair a faulty air conditioning unit by putting her hand inside. The inevitable happened of course – the inner machinery of the air con did so much catastrophic damage to the poor woman’s hand that she’s lost permanent function in several fingers and has found it completely impossible to to any of the things she used to before hand – simple things like holding hands with both her children at the same time any more.

The Co-op in its infinite wisdom has admitted liability, but refuses to take all the heat for the issue and has been negotiating with the poor woman. However, scuttlebutt says that a sizable compensation has been reached, and I can only assume it’s to be tens of thousands of pounds at the very least for such a traumatising and permanent injury.

Meanwhile, this week there was also the other side of the coin when a schoolboy won more than £15,000 in damages after a plastic DVD case, accidentally tossed by his teacher with too much force, collided with the lad’s head, causing what the courts described as a ‘tiny cut’ to his eyebrow. Apparently the little bit of a scar left over by the injury was too much for the ickle boy’s doting parents, who sued the bloody pants off Essex County Council to that tune.

I’m sorry but this is just bloody ridiculous and completely irresponsible. There’s absolutely no need for £15,000 for a damned cosmetic injury. So the lad won’t get to grow up and be a male model, who gives a whit about that? I thought all the ladies (and perhaps even a few of the blokes) loved a man with rugged good looks and a distinctive, masculine scar?

The gears of justice grind slowly but exceedingly small

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

If there’s one thing that you know if you work in the personal injury compensation industry, it’s that injury claims can sometimes take forever to resolve.

Sadly this means quite a bit of the time that claimants can see years go by before actually receiving any compensation for their injuries. It doesn’t matter how good their personal injury solicitors, either – the legal system just takes bloody forever. That’s why it’s so nice to hear when someone finally gets the help they deserve in the wake of a bad injury – and the news has been filled with this particular good news as of late.

One of the most high-profile cases involves a 49 year old man, a former welder, who was crushed under a metal jack whilst on the job. He was injured so badly that he has permanent nerve damage in his face – the kind that leaves him in constant, agonising pain – and he now can’t go out in public without protecting his face from further harm behind a plastic mask. The poor bloke even needed five separate surgeries to repair his shattered eye socket . In other words he most definitely earned the £500,000 in damages his personal injury lawyers won for him just recently. With any luck some of that cash will go towards experimental procedures to disrupt the nerve pathways between his face and his brain in order to relieve some of that constant pain he’s been suffering from since the grisly injury.

Sometimes the good news can be bittersweet though, especially when it comes to this next story revolving around the family of a couple whose life changed forever on holiday several years ago. June and Martin Vann were enjoying a nice holiday in the south of Portugal when the idyllic scene was shattered by a speeding driver, leaving June with incredibly debilitating brain injuries that left her unable to care for herself and with a wildly altered personality. Even more tragically, her husband Martin was killed instantly by the driver, leaving the adult children of the pair, Julia and Alex, trying in vain to get justice for their slain father and their debilitated mother.

This has been incredibly difficult because of one reason: the motorist who struck the the pair has been staunchly denying liability for years now, despite the fact that in the aftermath of the accident he indeed did say that it was his fault. It’s been an uphill battle for the past three years in fact, arguing with courts that anyone driving at 60mph where there were pedestrians nearby was obviously not that concerned with the safety of others. Luckily though a High Court judge has finally ruled in favour of the June and her children, declaring that the motorist did indeed have liability for the accident – and this means the accident claim can finally proceed.

I can only hope that they throw the book at this miserable bastard that was behind the wheel at the time. My heart breaks for that poor family, losing one parent and having another effectively crippled because of one man’s inability to act like a normal human being. I’m sure the family will get a nice compensation award, but I’m sure they’d give it up for just another day as an intact family.

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!

Personal injury solicitors win one battle, face yet another

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

To be a personal injury solicitor in the UK is to face a seemingly unending stream of battles, but it seems when one victory is declared another fight begins.

First the good news: claims management companies, the bane of injury lawyers everywhere, have been on the decline steadily over the past year. In fact, as of September the ranks of CMCs, especially in the personal injury claims department, has gone down by some 38 per cent, mostly because the landscape changed so drastically back in April with the referral fee ban. Now that CMCs can’t gather up as many prospective claimants as they possibly can by tossing cash at insurance companies, they’ve found that their older methods of finding customers – unsolicited calls, emails and texts – aren’t producing enough revenue to actually support many of these firms.

CMCs were more or less awful in my opinion, primarily because they focused more on generating as much money as they possibly could for themselves instead of taking cases that would truly benefit their clients. CMCs made their money on sheer volume of claims, and they didn’t care who they hurt in the process, so no I’m not saddened to see them on the decline – especially since they gave injury lawyers such a bad name!

Speaking of solicitors being given a bad name, former solicitor and new Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Shailesh Vara has declared open season on his former brethren by absolutely insisting that the small claims cap be increased to the point where it would knock out the right of legal representation by all too many claimants. Now I know you might not agree with me, but insurance companies are notorious for having a reputation for trying to get away with murder whilst crying about how they’re losing cash with every personal injury compensation claim, so this new push by Vara is not helping anyone but big insurance firms hold on to their profit margins. It’s totally unnecessary and it drives me absolutely mad that the interests of these massive firms are being held up as more important as the interests of the injured. I don’t understand where Vara’s head is when it comes to this whole thing, but I sincerely suspect it may just be securely lodged up his own arse on this one.

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good your lawyer is

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 26 Nov 2013:

A good personal injury solicitor can do wonders when you’re trying to get a defendant to pay out on your accident claim, but sometimes it’s just not enough.

When the personal injury compensation system works, it works quite well. Just look at how five Cambridgeshire teachers took home a combined £150,000 in damages last year for their injuries – it was a cut-and-dried case of an employer admitting responsibility for the injuries their employees suffered whilst on the job. Most of the injuries were slips and trips , though there was one staff member injured in an assault; regardless of the source of the injuries they occurred whilst these staff members were conducting their duties and were entitled to compensation as a result. Straightforward and simple,  just how I like it.

On the other hand, sometimes even the most straightforward-sounding case falls flat on its face – much like how Adam Glenister’s £1,000 claim for damage to his car after he hit a particularly nasty pothole fell on Essex County Council’s curiously deaf ears. The poor bloke ended up having to shell out the cash when his run-in with the pothole left the wheel tracking on his Audi A1 in poor condition and his alloy wheels perished, but because the local authority had surveyed the road recently and not found it in any particular state that needed repairs it denied Mr Glenister’s claim.

Of course, this whole thing unravels after it comes to light that ‘recently surveyed’ means ‘surveyed seven months prior to the accident.’ I don’t know about you, but seven months is a bloody long time – is it not reasonable to assume that in those intervening months the conditions of the road could have deteriorated to the point where potholes of the calibre that caused Mr Glenister’s claim could have been formed? Well obviously not, if you work for Essex County Council.

I wonder if council member believe any other insanities while we’re at it. Do they still wait patiently for Father Christmas to come down their chimney every year? If he did, he’d surely give them stockings filled with nothing but coal for being such stupid bastards.

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!