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 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!

Man injured in motorbike accident wins £10m accident claim

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 17 Feb 2015:

Want a cool £10 million? No problem – just get yourself nearly crippled in a motorcycle accident and let your personal injury solicitors do the rest.

I’m just taking the piss, of course. No one “just” gets themselves involved in a serious road traffic accident in a bid to earn millions of pounds in personal injury compensation. In fact it’s likely to be one of the most excruciating and life-changing experiences of your life – much as it was for Macel Beasley, the 31 year old man who was so severely injured in a motorbike crash a few years ago his heart stopped a terrifying 8 times on the way to hospital via air ambulance. Not only that, but he was in a coma for two long weeks until he finally regained consciousness.

Meanwhile, once Beasley woke back up, it was readily apparent that the physical head trauma he had sustained in the accident had left him with the kind of severe brain damage that you simply don’t walk away from unscathed. I mean that literally, too – the poor man needs a wheelchair to get about for much of the time, and he’s in need of constant care. He’s also now the recipient of a terrible impairment to his speech – as if the rest of his long-lasting injuries weren’t enough to have to deal with.

Thankfully for Beasley, the other person involved in the accident that left him with these injuries – the driver of the VW Golf that cut him off and collided with him – was determined to be fully liable for the accident. That means he gets every penny of the £4.27 million lump sum payment in the terms of his settlement – and the yearly £175,000 payments for the rest of his life in order to help pay for his needs. All in all it’s around £10 million in value, his compensation award. Beasley plans to purchase a house that can accommodate his specialised accessibility needs and to ensure he has the round the clock care that he also needs in order to live as comfortably as possible.

How comfortable that will be is anyone’s guess, of course. I know that no amount of cash would ever replace the use of my legs or soothe the constant pain of knowing that I suffered severe brain damage. It’s heartbreaking, isn’t it?

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!

Cameraman walks off with compensation after losing a leg

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 6 Jan 2015:

A 52 year old cameraman lost a leg in the wake of an accident and got to walk away with a major personal injury compensation award.

The career cameraman, who had a well-respected career for covering sporting events around the world for ITV, the BBC and other broadcasters, had been in Cannes, France to film a motorcycle race when one motorcyclist came round a bend, lost control, and ploughed into him. The result? Massive personal injury claims made against the insurance company of the motorcycle rider, made even worse that the cameraman had to have his leg amputated after complications to his injury made mending the severe fracture he suffered to his right ankle impossible.

The poor man, who has since been fitted with a prosthetic but can no longer work due to his injuries, says that he’s relieved that he can at least focus on his recovery and rehabilitation thanks to his team of personal injury solicitors going to work for him. The settlement amount the cameraman received is technically ‘undisclosed’ but let’s be honest here: have you ever heard of a compensation award for a motorcycle accident claim, especially one that resulted in an amputation of all things, not be in the tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds? It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if we’re looking at millions in settlement money over a series of annual payments or something similar.

Can you imagine, though? Just doing your job, sitting on the pavement and capturing footage of the motorbikes as they go by, only to have someone career into you and send you to hospital. Then, imagine being told that your injuries are so bad that you’ve got to have your bloody leg amputated – how in the world do you cope with something like that? This cameraman must have some brass bollocks on him to not even be phased by such an experience; I’d be curled up in a ball on the ground and crying like a sad little schoolboy if the same thing happened to me, let me tell you!

Still, that poor man has earned every penny of his compensation. At least now he can get on with his life and have the funds he needs to adapt to his new condition.

Massive car accident claim scam uncovered

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 23 Dec 2014:

An absolutely massive car accident claim scam was uncovered recently, with the criminal mastermind behind the fraud sent to prison for his sins.

When it comes to personal injury claims, there’s always some pillock out there who thinks he can get away with murder – well, figuratively anyway. Bashir Zairi from Queen’s Park was one of these brilliant blokes who managed to get away with more than £270,000 in fraudulent personal injury compensation claims money from a ‘crash for cash’ scheme that saw him setting up road traffic accidents to implicate otherwise innocent drivers.

Apparently the 30 year old Zairi decided to target Tesco delivery vans in particular, though heaven knows why; perhaps he figured the firm had plenty of cash to spend, or that he just didn’t like the company. Whatever the reasoning, the man’s luck finally ran out and he was caught – hoisted by his own petard no doubt – and sent to jail for his troubles.

Honestly I’m overjoyed that the bastard was caught. He was absolutely ruining things for the rest of us, and that fraudulent £270,000 that he stole from Tesco’s car insurance company is only going to have to be recovered by the insurer raising its rates for the rest of its customers. It’s one of the biggest problems with fraud when it comes to accident claims, and it drives personal injury solicitors just as mad as it drives insurance firms and regular blokes around the bend. Nobody – and I mean nobody – likes to think they’re being taken advantage of, and with every case of claims fraud that goes uncovered the reputation of countless honest personal injury lawyers becomes even further tarnished.

For what it’s worth, isn’t there enough baseless vitriol directed against the legal profession as it is, especially the personal injury claims sector? Could we just lay the blame where it’s most appropriate, like squarely at the feet of evil, greedy bastards like Bashir Zairi and his ilk? Honestly it’s these types of people that make everyone’s lives harder, don’t you think?

 

Millions in compensation in medical negligence case

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 16 Dec 2014:

I can’t think of anything more potentially heartbreaking than a medical negligence claim – especially when it comes to claims made on behalf of children.

If there’s one region of personal injury compensation law that is most heart-wrenching it’s got to be instances of children being hurt or injured for life because of a botched medical procedure in their youth or during birth. Such a story tugs on the heartstrings of even the most jaded, grizzled personal injury solicitor – and these stories usually ends with massive personal injury compensation claims that are meant to make the injured child’s life somewhat more bearable, but it’s cold comfort in many cases.

In fact, there was a particular instance this week where  teenager from Northern Ireland ended up with a massive £8 million compensation award after he was improperly cared for as a little baby. The boy, who had been in Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital shortly after his birth to treat an infection ended up with spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy because medical staff hadn’t cared for him properly. To make matters worse, the poor lad also has learing difficulties and epilepsy as a result.

Can you imagine having your life completely changed by poor medical care so badly that the courts see fit to award you £8 million? I don’t know if I could. What I can say is that while I’m absolutely heartbroken at the poor lad having to go through years of physical issues and learning disabilities, at least he should be set for life with such a massive compensation award. This should allow the teenager’s future home to be constructed with an eye towards the many accommodations he will need, not to mention the round the clock care that his injuries and ailments require.

Still, it’s cold comfort. I’m sure that the lad and his family would give up all that cash in a moment if it meant returning him to full health. That’s never going to happen of course – and it’s part of the tragedy that surrounds medical negligence cases – but at least he can be kept in relative comfort and with the security of knowing that there’s money for his needs for the rest of his life.

Injury claims fraud: not just a lawyer problem by any means

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 9 Dec 2014:

Think that personal injury claims fraud is a lawyer problem? Think again; many times the problem is within exceedingly stupid potential fraudsters.

Don’t believe me? Think about this: someone tried to fake an injury in a Bradford Lidl store, claming he slipped on  a wet plastic bag when he actually just orchestrated the whole thing. Of course, the entirety of his abortive attempt to scam Lidl’s insurer AIG out of ten thousand pounds was caught right on CCTV – and once the insurer caught wind of the evidence it was lights out for the little fraudster that couldn’t.

In a lovely turn of events, now the bloke who thought he was being oh-so clever owes legal fees and court costs of nearly  £9,000. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer person, if you ask me. Not only that but he has a two-year suspended sentence of 10 months in prison for his attempts to run an insurance fraud – which is, the last time I checked, bloody illegal as well as immoral and unethical. I don’t know, I’ll check again.

Yep, still illegal.

So is it just me or does this seem like the nail in the coffin for the old myth about personal injury solicitors being ambulance-chasing bastards looking to make a quick cash-in completely and totally irrelevant? It seems that every news media story I’ve been reading lately is all about how claimants, acting on their own, have been looking for big payouts. None of these stories mention how the scammers were convinced by their personal injury lawyers to bring phony accident claims.

Honestly that’s just not done any more. The lion’s share of injury lawyers would never even dream of engaging in such underhanded activities; the stereotypical myth comes from those damned claims management companies that had sprung up like weeds a few years back. Now that most of the tactics these CMCs used to operate have been banned, suddenly all these stories of predatory lawyers seem to have disappeared from the major news media cycle. It’s miraculous isn’t it? Almost as if – wait for it – there was no problem in the first place?

Well, the problem was with CMCs, not legitimate law firms. Oh, you know what I mean – stop rolling your eyes.

Will computer engineers replace personal injury solicitors?

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

New developments in technology could see computer engineers replacing personal injury solicitors eventually, if the newest breakthrough gains any traction.

I know it sounds like I’m saying the sky is falling when I say that new tech could replace a personal injury lawyer as the best way to make sure injured claimants get their personal injury compensation awards, but just because it sounds implausible and far-fetched doesn’t mean it’s not a possibility. I mean nobody thought the cotton gin would replace plantation workers when it came to picking cotton, but that happened too didn’t it?

Meanwhile in the current day and age, there’s a new push towards using technology to determine the extent of a claimant’s injuries instead of relying on lawyers and court cases. One new firm in Alberta, Canada called Vivametrica is spearheading the movement; it takes data gathered from a wearable fitness tracker called a Fitbit to see how much a claimant’s physical mobility has been impacted by an alleged accident, collecting data on the injured party and then comparing it to a database of records gleaned from healthy people of a similar height, weight, age and gender. If the two records are vastly different, the data may be used in court to prove that someone indeed was injured enough to deserve some compensation.

On the surface it sounds like a brilliant idea, doesn’t it? You could easily weed out anyone who was simply trying to get some quick cash from an insurer by pretending to have suffered injury, since their own bodies would betray them and expose the scam. Meanwhile, the gathering of this fitness data doesn’t happen over a few days or even a week – it could take months to build up enough data points to make a determination, and all through that time a legitimately injured claimant has been suffering – maybe unnecessarily.

Look, I’m all for better living through technology but this seems like we’re just overly complicating things in an industry that can be Byzantine in its intricacies already. Why add even more mountains of red tape to what could be piles higher than the Himalayas if we have to? Is this just a stunt on the part of insurers to once again weasel out of paying their fair share when it comes to injured claimants or what?

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.