£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?

British bobbies do their best to not get injured on the job

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 28 Oct 2014:

Being a member of a British police force is a demanding job, and sometimes these bobbies get injured in the line of duty – and this results in accident claims.

Work accident claims are common in almost any line of work, but when it comes to jobs that put workers at risk as an inherent part of the job it’s especially prevalent. Sadly, police officers often end up getting the short end of the stick when it comes to being injured whilst on duty, and this often means that there’s more than a few personal injury claims made every year by police personnel.

Usually police officers end up bringing claims against their employer, but in cases when a member of the public is responsible taxpayers can take a break. That’s exactly what happened to PC Anna Fielding when she waded into a personal altercation, only to be thrown to the ground by a Falmouth Docks shipyard worker – the bobby suffered a broken pelvis after she slammed violently to the ground, setting her up for months of painful recovery.

The perpetrator was dragged into court for his crimes, and he new he was nicked; he confessed to everything and ended up being slapped with paying personal injury compensation to the injured officer. On top of that he spent four months in jail and now has to complete 120 hours of unpaid work to pay his debt to society. For what it’s worth, he got off easy – I suppose he’s lucky PC Fielding wasn’t injured worse than she was.

Meanwhile, some cops won’t even sue their own police force if they’re injured in the course of duty. I know you think that sounds ludicrous but it’s true – there are some good coppers out there that actually do believe in what they’re doing. PC Dave Stubbs is one of those police officers. The Cheadle native said he wouldn’t even consider bringing suit against the Staffordshire Police after he broke his wrist as he tackled a drink driving suspect. In fact, the supercop just took a week off from work before returning, though he was assigned restricted duties as he continues to heal.

Could you imagine? This man must be a true idealist. A regular Nicholas Angel, if you’re a fan of Simon Pegg films as it were. There truly are good cops out there, and I can only wish the best for PC Stubbs.

Personal injury lawyers try their best, but sometimes fail

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 22 July 2014:

The idea of ‘you win some, you lose some’ in personal injury claims is deadly serious, since so much is riding on the line; nevertheless lawyers sometimes fail.

Now, don’t get me wrong – a lot of the time personal injury lawyers win the cases they take on for their clients. When it comes to high profile ones it’s even more prevalent. In fact, the news this week was positive in that regard; it turns out a German aircraft engineering worker that had suffered major injuries during an accident at an airport on British soil finally received somewhere around £600,000 in personal injury compensation. The poor bloke actually lost both one of his arms and one of his legs due to the incident, and it’s been four long, arduous years since the incident, but he’s finally been given his compensation award.

So that’s the good news – the bad news is that there are plenty of personal injury claims – especially work accident claims – that don’t go nearly as smoothly. I know it sounds absurd to think that a man who’s lost the use of two limbs and had to wait four bloody years before he could see some sort of resolution on his accident claim as smooth sailing, but at least the man got his day in court; all too many injured people are simply denied an opportunity altogether.

This phenomenon is incredibly prevalent in the world of hearing loss and hearing damage-related injury claims, for example. Did you know that some 80 per cent of all claims regarding hearing loss are outright rejected by the UK’s largest insurer? Aviva says that these dismissed claims are most likely fraud based on the fact that claims figures for hearing loss have increased by more than two thirds to around 80,000 last year – and that the claims that are permitted usually cost the insurance industry anywhere from £300 million on the low side to half a billion pounds on the more expensive end of the spectrum.

Honestly I don’t know how Aviva or any other insurer makes determinations as to whether a hearing loss claim is fraudulent or not. All I can tell you is that living with a hearing disability – or living with someone who has a distinct hearing impairment is no fun, and hearing aids aren’t exactly cheap.

Progress marches on in personal injury sector

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 16 Apr 2013:

Progress towards changing the way personal injury claims are made is being made across the UK, with new legal developments occurring from London to Scotland.

Ministers in the Commons are girding their loins for battle against the so-called ‘compensation culture’ in the UK, with legal reforms concerning personal injury claims originating from work accidents being on the table. Of course not everyone believes that overhauling these laws is necessarily a good idea, as personal injury solicitor experts and the House of Lords alike agree that the enterprise bill’s legal reforms will do nothing but shift the balance of power too far towards employers and make it much more difficult for workers to make work accident claims.

Shifting the burden of proof will only make it necessary for injured victims to prove negligence on the part of their employers, said former supreme court justice Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood. The current law – which dates back to 1974 – only requires an injured worker to prove that a health and safety violation had taken place, and that violation led to his or her injury; reforming the law to make a worker have to prove hat their employee knew or should have known that there were defects in their workplaces or systems of work places an unfair burden on an already injured employee – and besides, why in the world do we have a Health and Safety Executive if not to handle problems of this magnitude?

So that wasn’t exactly good news, but hopefully the Commons won’t do anything stupid and push for these reforms anyway. And if you believe that, as the Americans say, I have a bridge to sell you!

Still there was some good news, as a lobbyist group in Scotland is pushing hard to bring strict liability into the country’s civil law, as doing so will speed up personal injury compensation payments made to cyclists that suffered injury or that lost their lives in road traffic accidents. Cycle Law Scotland says that instituting strict liability in Scotland would shift the burden of proof to the drivers of vehicles to prove that a cyclist or a pedestrian – really, anyone in a position that has them in a vulnerable state in comparison to a two-tonne vehicle – was acting in a negligent manner.

This would differ from the current arrangement where the fault-based system requires injured pedestrians or cyclists to prove fault on the part of a vehicle driver. If you ask me, this makes an excellent counterpoint to the possible reforms to work accident law, as London is going in one direction – handing power back to those already in control, whereas Scotland could see power being handed to those who need it the most: those already at a disadvantage,

Workers injured left and right, HSE mobilises

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 6 Nov 2012:

The Health and Safety Executive has been working overtime this week as news emerges concerning a number of workers suffering injury at work recently.

First was the unfortunate story of how one man, on his first day of a new job, sustained personal injury at work after he tumbled from the back of a tipper lorry.  An unnamed man, unidentified save for the fact that he is 40 years of age, had been working to collect waste from an Acton worksite for Quick Skips & Recycling Ltd when he fell, suffering quite severe injury including a blood clot in his head, two broken ribs, and a punctured lung, resulting in the man remaining in hospital whilst unconscious for a fortnight.

The HSE’s investigators discovered that the man had been knocked from the vehicle as he worked to clear a jam on a waste load covering device. The device sprang back suddenly, causing the man’s injuries, according to testimony given in Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where Qucick Skips & Recycling Ltd was slapped with a £20,000 fine.

In related news, a painter from Birmingham also fell while at work, tumbling through the skylight on an industrial unit’s roof as he worked there. Philip Brown, a thirty six year old Sheldon man, had been taken on to work at the Kettering industrial site by KJ Smith and Sons Painters & Decorators. KJ Smith was, in turn, sub-contracted by JBN Builders Ltd.

Mr Brown had been busy at work painting the roof in question when the skylight he accidentally stepped on gave way beneath him, sending him dropping seven metres to the ground, sustaining a broken wrist, elbow, pelvis, hip, and righ tleg in the fall. The unfortunate man also sustained several cuts and bruises to his face and other head injuries, and in all he was in hospital for nearly a month.

The HSE brought both JBN and KJ Smith up on charges of breaching health and safety violations, resulting in a fine of £3,000 for the former and £4,500 for the latter.