Cops in Northern Ireland making injury claims in droves

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 30 Sept 2014:

Police officers in Northern Ireland have been making waves by bringing an absolutely incredible number of personal injury claims over the last three years.

A recent investigation into the costs incurred by PSNI has found that an eye watering 51.8 million in personal injury compensation payouts have been made from 2011/12. While some fo the claims were for instances such as unfair dismissal, property damage and discrimination, the most of the costs incurred by PSNI – a full £49.5 million – went directly to cops that were injured in the line of duty.

Officials and policymakers have come out of the woodwork to express their surprise and dismay at the new figures, including SDLP Policing Board member Dolores Kelly who said she was quite disturbed by how many payouts there had been over just three short years. Kelly immediately pointed the finger at both cops and personal injury solicitors, claiming that it was obvious that there was a rising ‘compensation culture’ at work in Northern Ireland.

For what it’s worth, I don’t know if Kelly has been perhaps keeping track of the kinds of things that have been going on in Northern Ireland over the last few years. Cops have been getting injured left and right in the civil unrest borne out of parade marches lately, and with police funding already dangerously low and in danger of being slashed even further I’m sure it’s a safe bet that both the training and the equipment PSNI gives their officers is more than a bit shoddy and lacklustre.

All I’m saying is that it seems like poor form to blame police officers injured in the line of duty for needing to be compensated for their injuries. Maybe a better, more effective strategy would be to ensure that the nation’s police forces are well funded enough to keep their employees and staff safe and sound. It’s not like these men and women aren’t out there putting their lives on the line every day or anything, you know; perhaps a bit less finger pointing and recrimination and a little more concern for the thin blue line that stands between order and chaos would be more appropriate from the powers that be, don’t you think?

Personal injury claims fraud plagues insurance providers

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

If there’s one thing that insurance providers hate to do, it’s to give away money – and when it’s because of a fraudulent personal injury claim it’s even worse.

Insurance companies are of course in the business of underwriting risk, and that’s what we pay them for; in the event of an accident beyond our control we’re indemnified for the costs that are incurred, thanks to the fact that we pay these bloodsuckers annually for such a privilege. That’s how the system is supposed to work, but insurers say that there’s so much claims fraud activity that it’s becoming a serious headache – and just when they get a handle on one avenue of fraud another one pops up!

A perfect example of this is how there has been legislative action taken to make it extremely difficult to perpetrate whiplash claims fraud, thanks to the new limits put on personal injury lawyers and claimants alike. However, scammers seem to be staying one step ahead of the game and have switched to other types of personal injury compensation claims such as industrial deafness in order to continue bilking money from these insurers.

On the one hand this makes me more than a little giddy, considering how I like to see and hear about these massive insurance companies taken down a peg by some industrious and clever criminals. On the same time these fraudsters make everything worse for the rest of us, as every pound they receive ends up having to be accounted for – and it’s through the premiums that get charged to you, me and every other honest consumer. This of course erases any speck of goodwill I might have towards these crafty bastards.

Of course it’s not just organised criminals that contribute to the fraud problem. Sometimes it’s as simple as you or I forgetting to give a new insurer full and complete information when it comes to applying for a new policy – or if you’re particularly criminally-minded it’s a deliberate omission of important information in an attempt to get cheaper cover. This isn’t just unsubstantiated grumbling on the part of insurers, either – the Association of British Insurers says that its records indicate something like 180,000 fraudulent application were submitted by prospective customers throughout 2013.

So yes, think about that the next time you consider leaving off how you’ve had a few claims on your next insurance application. Don’t be part of the problem; even if you’re not caught, you’re still making things worse for the rest of us!

Medical negligence has injury solicitors working overtime

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

Personal injury lawyers specialising in medical negligence have been kept incredibly busy this year according to recently released research findings.

You know as well as I do that there’s nothing particularly amusing or droll about medical negligence claims, most importantly because they can be so deadly serious. You can end up with life-changing, debilitating injuries – or worse yet, your family could end up mourning your untimely death. It’s what happened to Andrew Raybould’s mum and dad; their story broke this week about how their 30 year old son was turned away from hospital three times because medical staff couldn’t diagnose his pancreatitis in time. Instead the poor man died in excruciating pain – and his devastated parents have made a righteously wrathful medical negligence claim.

But this is just one incredibly tragic example of the kinds of personal injury claims that have arisen recently because of medical negligence. It turns out that the 2013-14 year has been a bad one for the NHS, as the number of complaints against it have gone up by 7 per cent when compared to the 2012-13 year – or that’s what the Health & Social Care Information Centre says. The organisation released details revealing that there have been an eye-watering 174,000 complaints made. Not each and every one of them are as tragic and fatal as in the case of Andrew Raybould of course but it’s certainly keeping the nation’s personal injury solicitors busy in making claims.

The whole thing makes me incredibly uncomfortable though. I mean we’re talking about medical professionals that should be qualified to take care of us, not put us in more danger or even end up having us lose our lives due to their incompetence! What is it about the NHS that seems to attract so many doctors and other medical staff that don’t seem to know what they’re doing?

Of course it might not be the fault of the nation’s doctors and nurses. NHS hospitals are almost comically understaffed, and junior doctors oftentimes work shifts that are so long that they might go as long as 18 hours at a time without rest. It’s a situation that just breeds mistakes, and it’s positively criminal. What can you do besides hope and pray for the best?

 

Tragedy and comedy behind the wheel of a vehicle

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

Personal injury solicitors often have to deal with the deepest of tragedies as well as farcical nonsense when it comes to road traffic accident claims.

This week’s news cycle illustrates this point all too well, as first we have the story of a tragic and seemingly unavoidably lethal RTA on the one hand and then a particularly dim and thick criminal who was supplementing his personal injury compensation award by selling cannabis – until he was caught.

Last year there was a rather tragic accident in Clifton involving a 94 year old pensioner and a police vehicle. The inquest was this week and enough evidence was heard that the PC driving the vehicle, who had been pursuing someone suspected of driving without insurance, had no way to avoid the poor man as he pulled out into traffic ahead of her and causing an accident that saw him pass away in hospital from complications. Criminal charges aren’t being filed, but there is a pending personal injury claim against Nottinghamshire Police on behalf of the man’s family. I can only hope that some solace can be found in such a dire situation – it’s simply tragic no matter how you approach it.

Of course the other tale is astonishing in its stupidity, and a stark contrast to the tragic loss of life. A 26 year old man, who had received a rather comfortable personal injury compensation award in the wake of his motorcycle accident because he apparently had become too injured to work for a living, had been collecting benefits even as he turned to a life  of crime. Apparently the bloke was having a good go of it before police stopped him in a random search, as they discovered around £700 in cash on the man in addition to around £15 worth of cannabis.

Acting on their suspicions, the police later raided the bloke’s flat and discovered that he had nearly 93 grams of cannabis in his possessions. For those of you at home like me that don’t know how much that was worth, it’s around £1,000 or so, and it’s obvious that anyone with that much had some intent to sell it on to pocket the proceeds.

Miraculously, the fool didn’t end up in prison. Instead his sentence was suspended for a year, provided he performs some unpaid work and attends a rehab programme. Oh and he’s out £100 in surcharge fees. What a rotten, lucky bastard.

Nothing like a bit of criminal injury claims activity

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

Criminal activity and personal injury claims often go hand in hand, and in fact this week there’s no dearth of examples of this not so rare phenomenon.

Personal injury solicitors of course don’t necessarily end up handling criminal cases all that much, even though there could be a bit of overlap. I mean if you think about it if you’re bringing a work accident claim against an employer that was negligent in providing a due level of care the Health and Safety Executive might get involved, but otherwise it’s more of a matter of extracting personal injury compensation from a defendant than getting them tied up with jail time. Even so, there are times that the criminal justice system crosses into the realm of personal injury claims.

Here’s a perfect example of such an occurrence: in a drunken brawl between himself and one of his mates, John Dawson stuffed his thumb into another man’s eye socket, permanently blinding him in one eye. The altercation began because Dawson ended up chipping one of his front teeth and the thumb-gouging was apparently an escalation of the row, but when the police showed up they were told that the half-blind man fell down the stairs. Meanwhile, six months later and with his ability to work compromised, Dawson’s mate changed his tune – and suddenly Dawson’s not just facing a compensation claim but possible jail time as well, considering there’s criminal charges getting lined up. I suppose that it’s poor taste to make a ‘an eye for an eye’ joke at this point, isn’t it?

Of course sometimes even criminals end up deserving compensation as well. Just because you’re serving time in prison doesn’t mean you might not need a good personal injury lawyer if you’re roughed up whilst in the clink. Well that could be the case with Alan McAuley, who ended up suffering injury to his hand as he did a stint in Castle Huntly open prison on drugs-related charges.

McAuley had apparently been tasked with taking rubbish out to the prison kip, only to have the bin lid smash down on his wrist because it was being propped up by a mop handle. Now the man is looking to get £10,000 in compensation for his trouble, namely because he had a sore wrist for a few months and allegedly had some problems handling cutlery. Whether this will pan out for him is anyone’s guess but honestly if it was me I wouldn’t be holding my breath. I mean it’s not like he couldn’t work for those three months or anything – the bloke was in jail.

CMC figures down, yet personal injury claims still prevalent

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 26 Aug 2014:

Nobody liked claims management companies, which is why they’re so glad there’s so few of them now – yet their exit has not stopped the injury claims train.

The personal injury compensation world was in a an uproar as early as just a year or so ago when new legislation went into place to effectively ban claims management companies. The regulations crippled CMCs by preventing things such as referral fees, and as a result there are 600 fewer CMCs in the UK than there were just 12 months ago. Most people thought this would end up stamping out things like spurious accident claims and the predations of so-called ‘ambulance chasing’ personal injury solicitors, and I’m sure it’s had a positive effect. No, really I’m sure there are places somewhere in the UK where there’s much less claims activity than there used to be.

Unfortunately one of those places is absolutely not anywhere near the West Midlands. In fact – and this little tidbit of information is going to blow you away – the West Midlands Police totted up something like £600,000 in legal costs over the last year. Yes, the same year that saw claims management companies practically driven from the UK. So what in the world is going on?

Well apparently it was mostly police staff being incredibly clumsy. Slips and trips, injuries from sitting on faulty chairs – whenever it seems there could possibly be something that went wrong last year it must have happened, because that’s a hefty sum indeed. I can only imagine that the entirety of the West Midlands Police go to work with the theme from the Benny Hill Show playing constantly, on repeat, as they go about their daily duties.

I’m sorry, does that sound a bit bitter? I don’t mean to be – I’m just honestly surprised at how high this personal injury bill is. I would have expected to see costs come down for everyone, what with the good news about CMCs falling by the wayside. I suppose it just goes to show you that claims management companies actually weren’t the problem when it came to spurious claims and inflated legal costs. Instead, it seems to be things such as the incredibly clumsy and accident-prone staff of the West Midlands Police!

 

Does everyone waste money on personal injury claims?

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 19 Aug 2014:

Sometimes the prevailing wisdom, when it comes to personal injury claims, is that paying out compensation is a waste of money – and sometimes it turns out correct.

I hate to even admit this, but sometimes I can’t wonder if there aren’t actual spurious accident claims brought by those that are supposedly injured. Notice I’m not pointing the finger at personal injury solicitors, mind you – I’m simply saying that sometimes the money spent on compensation might be better spent elsewhere.

Here’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about, if I’m being unclear: did you hear recently how the legal bill for Norfolk Police over the last year hit almost £400,000? That’s an amazing amount of money, and much of it was paid out to staff and members of the public that were injured accidentally due to police negligence or equipment failures. Now what I wonder is what could have happened if even half of that figure was spent on equipment, infrastructure, and training expenses for the Norfolk Police? Do you think the same amount of injuries and accidents would have occurred? Somehow I doubt that.

Meanwhile it’s not just huge organisations running on taxpayer money that are guilty of being wasteful. Individuals can be just as to blame, and there’s another story this week that absolutely burned my biscuits after discovering it. Apparently there was an instance where an 18 year old man was rumbled by the fuzz, being caught with drugs on his person. However it wasn’t just a few pills – we’re talking a full 900 tablets of the sedative known as diazepam. 900 bloody tablets! Are you mad? Who walks around with that much on them?

Now, where did this fine young man get the cash to buy such a shedload of drugs? Well, surprise surprise – he had been given a large personal injury compensation award for an accident he was involved in recently. The brainless bloke went out and spent heaven knows how much cash on these drugs instead of doing something useful with them, like paying his bills or depositing it in the bank. What a pillock.

Don’t you ever blame lawyers on injury claims fraud again

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 12 Aug 2014:

The jury is no longer out: personal injury lawyers have no role in fraud when it comes to personal injury claims – that honour goes to idiotic claimants.

If there’s one row that’s longer-lasting than who’s responsible for all the personal injury compensation fraud in the UK, you’re unlikely to find one. Maybe the whole ‘chicken or the egg’ question might have been raging for longer, but not with as much fervor as this one. On one side stand insurers who level their accusatory fingers at personal injury solicitors, whilst on the other side it’s the lawyers saying, ‘don’t look at us, mate; it’s the bloody claimants.’ Well guess what? It’s definitely the bloody claimants. What’s even better – the majority of them are so stupid that they get caught left and right.

Don’t believe me? Fine, I’ll let the news stories this week speak for themselves when it comes to the pillocks we’ve got in the UK trying to commit fraud. First there’s the story of how a man and a woman old enough to know better decided to try to get one over on a car hire firm, only to be found out in one of the most ludicrous of ways.

It turns out Steven Phillips, 62, and his 57 year old step-sister Terrina Downes had concocted a ridiculous plan to bilk a car hire firm for damages related to whiplash claims by staging an accident in a remote location. Of course, when Phillips hired the van he didn’t realise that the owner had a GPS device fitted to the vehicle so it could be tracked – and when Phillips reported the ‘accident’ happening at a certain place, the whole plot unraveled when the GPS indicated it had happened miles away. Needless to say there will be no compensation claim for these two.

Not stupid enough? Well what about this one: Kyle Denton ended up getting in a punch-up one night after having a few too many at his local and did some awful damage to his hand – enough to require some pins. The chavtastic chap went on to post about how he got his hand injured on Facebook and even posted a picture of it to go along with it, only to then go to his local council to look for some compensation because he ‘tripped on a pothole’. His council thought it was a bit suspicious, and they were right once they uncovered the idiot’s Facebook status. Guess who’s gotten himself into hot water as a result?

Insurers go to war with injury lawyers, show up unarmed

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 23 Mth 2013:

Sometimes you have to hand it to the insurance industry: they’re so keen to get one over on personal injury lawyers that they’ll go to war with them unarmed.

You probably remember last week when there was a major furore over major insurer Aviva sticking its neck out and proclaiming that the cure for whiplash claims fraud would be to stop paying personal injury compensation awards in cash and simply pay for rehabilitation for the injured. Most people with half a brain were quick to point out how daft a plan that was, simply because there’s no real way to rehabilitate yourself from a whiplash injury besides just letting it heal naturally. In other words, Aviva doesn’t want to pay even a penny towards anyone suffering from the kind of debilitating pain a whiplash injury can result in; it’s just another way the insurer can throw a spanner in the works of their great enemy, the personal injury claims industry.

Meanwhile Aviva took another step this week, practicaslly pleading with the Ministry of Justice to publicly consult on their oh-so-brilliant plan. Anything to stop them from having to pay lawyers fees when they lose a claim! Honestly it’s petty. Meanwhile it turns out that the ‘shedloads of cash’ the company is supposedly losing is actually not that much at all, based on the fact that the number of Brits injured in accidents that actually decide to bring accident claims is minuscule based on a recent research study.

That’s right: YouGov found out that around 25 per cent of injured Brits actually go ahead and make a claim against an insurance company. Not only that but this 25 per cent figure actually dropped over the course of the last year! In other words, nobody’s flooding the courts to get a pound of flesh from Aviva. There is no vast conspiracy on the part of lawyers to send the insurer into the poorhouse, no matter how completely paranoid and barmy the company gets. It might be the largest insurer in the UK, but it’s also the most insane as well if you ask me!

It’s the Government & injury lawyers versus car insurers

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 29 July 2014:

You might think it would have never happened, but it has: personal injury lawyers have joined forces with the Government to protest car insurance providers.

I can’t think of any more strange bedfellows than the personal injury solicitor community and the Government, especially since the latter is always so concerned with so-called ‘ambulance chasing’ lawyers profiteering off the backs of the injured by coercing Brits into bringing personal injury claims. For years, it’s been the insurers and the Government facing off against lawyers, pointing accusatory fingers at the lowly solicitor for driving up premium prices because there are so many spurious claims being made – especially whiplash claims.

However, the Government left the insurance community in a heartbeat after insurers have come up with a truly hare-brained scheme to curtail claims fraud. The largest car insurance provider in the UK, Aviva, recently proposed changing the industry-wide standard for whiplash claims: instead of offering personal injury compensation awards in cash, Aviva said that the whiplash fraud problem could be eradicated overnight by simply refusing to supply any cash to claimants but instead simply pay for their rehabilitation.

On the face of it the idea might seem like a sound one but think about it: what happens to anyone and everyone who have legitimate claims? Whiplash is incredibly painful, especially if you’ve got a bad case, and for the most part rehabilitation doesn’t really speed recovery. If you’re suffering from whiplash you could be stuck not being able to do anything because of the pain – and that means you could miss work for more than a few days or even a month or so. If you eliminate cash compensation, what are these injured to do?

No, the better idea – and one that the Government is keen on implementing with the personal injury sector’s blessing no less – is to instead require anyone who wants to make a whiplash claim to see a medical professional for an evaluation. This has its own set of issues of course, especially considering how there are few actual quantifiable things a doctor can point to as evidence of whiplash, but it’s a far sight better than just shutting everyone down completely.

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.

Who wins in when it comes down to car accident claims?

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 15 July 2013:

It’s easy to be smug and say that no one but personal injury solicitors benefit from a world awash in car accident claims, but is that the real truth or not?

Personal injury compensation awards notwithstanding – and the sometimes hefty legal fees that go to personal injury law firms as a result – there’s really no winner when it comes to a road traffic accident claim. If you’ve been injured to the point where you end up winning a multi-million pound settlement amount, you’re certainly not going to be in any sort of physical shape to enjoy your newfound wealth. In fact you’re probably going to just be relieved that you can afford somewhere to live that has disabled access for your ruined body.

Worse yet is that everyone else suffers when car accident figures increase. In fact, new research has shown that the number of accidents on roads with 20mph speed limits have gone up by some 26 per cent over the last year. More accidents means more potential injuries, and that leads to more possibly debilitating injuries that insurance companies have to pay out for. And guess what happens when insurers have to pay out on millions in damages? That’s right – they raise the rates on everyone: you, me, your mum, anyone that drives. It’s an awfully vicious cycle that feeds back on itself, like a snake swallowing its own tail, and no one is safe.

Speaking of a vicious cycle, one insurance company actually ended up embroiled in a nasty car accident personally. The offices of Rose Insurance had an unexpected visitor recently, and I don’t mean someone who walked in to their London location either; an out-of-control ambulance that went careering across the road after being struck by another vehicle plowed through the insurance office’s glazed storefront and came to rest smack dab in the centre of the CEO and owner’s office! Somehow, beyond all reckoning, no one was harmed, but the damage to the building was rather catastrophic. Guess their own business insurance premiums are going to go through the roof; an ironic twist of fate for a company that’s in the business of providing insurance for others, but what can you do in this mad world?