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Tag Archive: personal injury

  1. Does the UK really have a compensation culture?

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    The next 12 months are sure to see many UK law reviews and legislative changes that allegedly aim to clamp down on the UK’s ‘compensation culture’. Media reports suggest that a huge number of feckless scam artists are pursuing false and fraudulent compensation claims as a way to earn an income, that almost everyone involved in a car accident makes a whiplash injury claim, and that employers are dealing with a burgeoning number of accident at work compensation claims involving foolhardy employees that are entirely to blame for their own injuries.

    But is this true? Despite government ministers’ and media figures’ claims of a compensation culture, statistics do not seem to back this argument up. Many of the outrageous lawsuits people discuss when referring to compensation culture are either complete urban legends, or are based on a true story but twisted beyond all recognition, with the few genuine ‘outrageous lawsuits’ people have made failing at the first hurdle and with the claimant not receiving a penny of compensation.

    Data also indicates that the number of compensation claims made in the UK has fallen dramatically over recent years. A TUC-backed investigation published in workplace health journal Hazards revealed that the number of successful accident at work compensation claims in the country fell by nearly 60% in the last decade, dropping from a total of 219,183 in 2000 to 2001 to fall to 87,655 in 2011 to 2012.

    The lack of a compensation culture is starkly illustrated by the fact that over 4,000 people die of work-related emphysema and chronic bronchitis in 2011 to 2012, but just 59 of these succeeded in a compensation claim over the year. While there were 221,000 cases of work-related depression, anxiety or stress from 2011 to 201, only 293 successful industrial illness claims cited these conditions as the illness during this timeframe. It appears a vanishingly small proportion of genuinely-injured people actually claim compensation.

    Figures like this must be why Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson said compensation culture is a “media-created perception”, and that the government, the legal profession and the courts should work together to counteract this notion. He stated that no developments in UK personal injury law could be said to have encouraged the creation of a compensation culture, and that the recent Jackson reforms will further discourage people from making unmeritorious compensation claims. Nonetheless, Lord Dyson argued that the country is unlikely to see any reduction in the number of media reports about the rising ‘compensation culture’, regardless of any decline in the number of personal injury claims.

    Perhaps the common complainers about the UK’s alleged compensation culture have ulterior motives. Insurers would certainly like fewer people to claim personal injury compensation, as this would increase their profit margins. Unscrupulous employers may wish to dissuade people from claiming compensation so they can ignore workplace safety measures. The continual media narrative about compensation culture is likely to make people who have got a genuine claim for compensation feel like making a claim is somehow shameful or unacceptable, causing further unnecessary reductions in the overall number of claims.

    Very few people would suggest that people who have genuinely been injured due to an organisation’s negligence should be prevented from claiming compensation against that organisation’s insurance company, but if the Coalition’s UK law reviews into tort reform continue in the same vein, this may well be the case in the future.

  2. Mesothelioma Bill Edges Towards Royal Assent

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    Mesothelioma Bill edges towards Royal AssentThe Mesothelioma Bill has almost reached the Royal Assent stage. It underwent its third reading  in the House of Commons on January 7th, before returning to the House of Lords for final consideration. It is scheduled to become law in July this year.

    This bill will see people who have developed mesothelioma able to claim compensation through a diffuse mesothelioma payments scheme, helping hundreds of people who would otherwise be unable to receive help.

    Paul Goggins, MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, was a fierce advocate of the Mesothelioma Bill, striving to increase the amount of compensation sufferers of the disease would receive. He tragically died from a brain haemorrhage before the bill passed, with MPs listening to his amendments to the bill despite his absence in dedication to his hard work as he lay critically-ill in hospital.

    Concerns about the Mesothelioma Bill

    It would be wrong to criticise the Mesothelioma Bill too harshly – it will undoubtedly provide much-needed personal injury compensation to thousands of people who developed a fatal disease due to asbestos exposure, and is crafted in such a way as to give insurers the onus on footing the bill for settlements, rather than the taxpayer.

    We have previously outlined some of our concerns with the Mesothelioma Bill, and these concerns have not yet been fully ironed-out.  People will only receive 75% of the compensation they would have received had they been able to trace the liable insurance company and claim industrial illness compensation directly from them, for instance.

    MP Tracey Crouch argued that this should be increased to 80%, saying that while 100% would be the best outcome, the Mesothelioma Bill would likely not have made it so far if this was the only available option.

    She explained that while 5% might not sound like an awful lot, it actually is an additional £6,000 for mesothelioma compensation claimants.

    However, the fact of the matter is, the figure will be pegged at 75% because the insurance companies that fund the scheme said it can only cost them 3% of their gross written premium, and that increasing the levy to 80% of the amount a mesothelioma personal injury compensation claimant would receive from a liable insurer would push the cost of the scheme slightly above this 3% boundary over four years, despite falling to just 2.61% over ten years.

    Many organisations have been pushing for the Mesothelioma Bill to award recipients more than 75% of the amount other mesothelioma compensation claimants receive, with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) describing this as “not the justice” that mesothelioma sufferers deserve.

    APIL President Matthew Stockwell confirmed the organisation will continue pushing to increase the availability of justice anyone who has been injured due to workplace safety mismanagement can receive.

    We at Clearwater Solicitors are ready to help you claim compensation if you have developed mesothelioma or any other industrial disease. Call us on 08000 430 430 or fill in our online enquiry form to find out more.

  3. Welsh NHS boards pay out over £100m in personal injury claims over three years

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    Welsh NHS boards pay out over £100m in personal injury claims over three yearsWales Online has reported that over the last three years, the NHS in Wales has spent more than £100 million on personal injury claims.

    Figures released by six of Wales’ seven health boards and the Welsh ambulance service reveal that £117.6 million has been paid to personal injury compensation claimants since 2010.

    Overall:

    – The ambulance service paid out £2.3 million

    – Powys paid out £6.1 million

    – Cwm Taf Health Board paid out £14.5 million

    – Hywel Dda paid out £9.6 million

    – Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board paid out £35.4 million

    – Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board paid out £26.2 million

    – Cardiff and Vale University Health Board paid out £23.1 million.

    Most health boards have seen their overall medical negligence and personal injury compensation claim bill remain relatively static, but a few boards have paid out significantly more than usual after being hit by a number of big compensation claims.

    If the NHS is to see sustained declines in the amount of money it pays out in medical negligence compensation, it will have to improve the ways it learns from its mistakes and to improve its openness and transparency. The Francis Report has provided a range of recommendations that the NHS should follow to improve patients’ health and safety, which should support it in seeing maintained reductions in the number of medical negligence cases.

    Medical negligence cannot just be seen as a cost that the NHS Litigation Authority has to deal with – every clinical negligence claim is someone who has been injured unnecessarily when they needed help the most, and some claims involve people who will experience life-long health problems and difficulties as a result of their injuries.

    With NHS authorities currently strapped-for-cash, improving the health and safety of services provided may offer benefits greater than they realise.

    People who have received substandard care should be entitled to receive all the redress they deserve, and as well as personal injury compensation, this may involve recovery of other losses, investigations into the circumstances of their injuries, and in some cases, prosecutions.

    If you want to make a claim for compensation, the personal injury solicitors at Clearwater Solicitors are here to give you the help and assistance you need. We are waiting to help you out – just call us on 08000 430 430 to speak with us directly, or fill in our online enquiry form and we will call you back as soon as we can.