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.

Amusement injuries turn out to be no laughing matter

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 2 Dec 2014:

While most of us go down to the cinema for a bit of a laugh, one retired postman received injuries so severe that they warranted an accident claim.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll see stars: that’s exactly what happened to Ian Johnston when he ventured out to Teesside Leisure Park in Stockton this past March. The 64 year old hit is head at the Showcase Cinema door frame, allegedly triggering a pre-existing neurological condition that saw him in hospital for a mind boggling 34 weeks, unable to move nothing but his arms.

Johnston is still in hospital today, but his personal injury solicitors have launched a legal claim against NATL Amusements (UK), the operator of the cinema. The injured man’s personal injury lawyers say that the disabled access door just wasn’t high enough. Apparently Johnston had been on crutches at the time due to his pre-existing condition, which is known as chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, an ailment that I will never be able to pronounce or even type again, so I’ll just be referring to it as CIDP for short.

The pensioner struck his head shortly after pushing the button that activated the disabled access door. He then fell backwards, fracturing his spine in the fall ostensibly after striking his head on the too-low doorway. For what it’s worth, Johnston says he’s only 6ft 1in tall, barely a giant by any means whatsoever.

If you ask me, something seems dodgy here. How could there be such a short doorway for disabled access at this cinema? It doesn’t make much sense at all. It’s not as if the man was towering over everyone by several inches – and it’s not like he wasn’t probably hunching over his crutches as well. Unless perhaps he was wearing stilts at the time. Were these crutches extra-high? I suppose we may never know, but I do suspect that something isn’t particularly clear right now.

Well, Johnston just made his personal injury claim. I’m sure that there will be more on this particularly interesting incident later on, though if I had to concoct a story as to what happened here my money would be on some strange half-arsed attempt to comply with accessibility standards on the part of the cinema by fitting it with a shoddily-designed disabled access door. It wouldn’t be the first time a company would have taken shortcuts to save cash, would it?

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.

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.

Injury lawyers work hard for clients regardless of payout

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 4 Nov 2014:

Personal injury lawyers work hard for their clients regardless of the size of the personal injury compensation award at stake; it’s not the money that matters.

Critics and detractors of so-called ambulance chasing injury lawyers love to point out that these people are in it for the money, looking for the most lucrative clients to represent so they can line their pockets with court costs and lawyer fees. Meanwhile that couldn’t be farther than the truth.

For what it’s worth, personal injury solicitors are more about providing access to justice for injured people than they are trying to strike it rich. I mean let’s look at the news this week if you don’t believe me. Did you know that one factory worker just prevailed on his work accident claim after he was brained by a falling pipe – and that he “only” ended up with a £4,000 award. Not exactly big money going into the pockets of his lawyer there, let me tell you. The bloke missed something like seven weeks of work as his broken pate healed.

Still, that’s not to say that there aren’t massive payouts as well. Another case that grabbed headlines this week recounted how a massive £4 million personal injury claim case was resolved for a gravely injured man. The bloke in question ended up in a serious road traffic accident that left him with serious brain injuries that saw him having to re-learn how to speak and that drastically altered his personality to the point where the normally even-tempered man became, well for lack of a better term, a right bastrard.

Now if you ask me if anyone deserves a massive compensation payout in the wake of such a debilitating and life-changing accident it’s that man. It’s true that £4 million is quite literally a shedload of cash, but the man needs round the clock managed care, and unless you’ve been living under a rock you know that costs a serious amount of money – especially considering the man is only 26 and he’s got a very long life ahead of him.

And yes, the man’s legal team does of course end up being entitled to a large sum of legal fees from the settlement. But let’s be honest here – the lawsuit took eight bloody years to resolve. That’s a long time, and that’s a lot of court costs to recover!

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.

Live in Lincolnshire? Hope you have a good injury lawyer

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 21 Oct 2014:

If there’s one place in the UK that requires you to have a good personal injury lawyer before living there, it’s undoubtedly got to be Lincolnshire.

Think I’m just taking the piss? I’m not – it turns out that there was something like £150,000 spent by the local council in 2013 due to pothole-related damage. Think that was bad? Last year was almost just as bad with around £133,000 in accident claims made against the council. That’s right: the roads are so bad in Lincolnshire that they’re costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that last year saw Lincolnshire awarded the dubious honor of the pothole capital of Britain by Britannia Rescue. Things show no indications of getting better any time soon, and local councilors blame it on a lack of funds to fill in the thousands of potholes across the county. Though that raises a question from me: if there’s no money, where’s the cash for these personal injury compensation payouts coming from? Don’t you think that spending the money on road repairs instead of on court costs and legal fees might cut down on these ridiculous personal injury claims just a bit?

Apparently it’s been a generational problem, as councilors say Lincolnshire has been critically under-funded for decades when it comes to infrastructure improvements. As a result, pavements and rods just keep crumbling to dust, leading countless motorists and pedestrians alike to hurt themselves or damage their vehicles. Not only that but another cold winter is likely to be on its way, and that means the already ruined roads are going to just deteriorate further. There’s no way that the council is going to be able to raise the £5.5 million it needs to qualify for the same figure in matched funds the Government is offering it.

The end result is rather grim. Eventually Lincolnshire’s roads are going to degrade to the point where local residents will be better off trotting about in a horse and buggy instead of behind the wheel of a motor. I’m sure that even the ancient roads in England from before the fall of the Roman Empire were in better shape then – and for all intents and purposes are probably in better shape now!

Scammers caught red-handed faking personal injury claims

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 14 Oct 2014:

In news that makes me absolutely giddy with glee, I can happily report that more scammers are getting caught red-handed as they try to fake accident claims.

Fraud is a serious problem when it comes to personal injury claims, simply because it does more than make injury lawyers look bad. Since most personal injury compensation is paid out by insurance companies, fraudulent claims end up costing insurers millions – and the end result is that these insurers end up hiking up premium payments for law-abiding folk like you and me to recover their costs.

One of the bigger ticket items when it comes to insurance fraud has been whiplash claims, and that makes the next story so sweet to me: fraudsters trying to get away with a £75,000 crash for cash whiplash claim got shut down hard when they decided to try to victimise the driver of a lorry that just so happened to have a dashboard-mounted camera. Needless to say that when the authorities surveyed the footage it became clear that the so-called ‘injured parties’ had caused the crash themselves, putting a very quick end to their bid for cash. Fit every vehicle on the road with these dashcams I say, regardless of the privacy issues this may raise; we could wipe out car accident claims fraud overnight!

Of course scammers don’t have to get behind the wheel to perpetrate claims fraud. In fact it’s easy to claim you were hurt by tripping over a bit of uneven pavement or that you slipped on the wet floor of your local Tesco in an attempt to fake a personal injury claim. However, these bastards aren’t getting away with such activities scot-free any more either, especially since reports have emerged that the City of London is cracking down on the practice by letting the police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department take a crack at any suspicious activity.

The IFED has been especially busy as of late, as it was revealed that they just collared 11 scammers who had attempted to pull the wool over the eyes of insurers on fake slip and trip claims. It warms the very cockles of my cold, calloused heart to hear of such wonderful news, I tell you; I can only hope that even more of these bastards are caught in the future.

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!