Personal Injury Reforms: A Denial of Justice

Posted by Oliver on March 20,2017

Following from a recent post, proving a soft tissue injury (such as whiplash) can be hard, as typical symptoms, whilst painful, do not show up regularly on medical scans. Those traditional symptoms can also take some time to manifest themselves, and therefore it can be hard in some cases to prove that the cause of those injuries is actually an accident that was not the victim’s fault. Further, proving that the party was actually at fault can also be hard in some personal injury cases.

Despite that, it is the victim’s right to seek a legal remedy. It is the victim’s right to seek justice, and to make a personal injury claim against the at fault party. It is a principle of law any such wrongdoer should be held to account for their actions or negligence.

That is why government proposals on reforms to soft tissue personal injury claims are all the more alarming. As part of the proposals, as mentioned, compensation claims for whiplash and related injuries would be capped. A proposal has also been suggested that compensation should only be awarded if a medical report was submitted as proof of injury.

Amongst the proposed changes, the limit for personal injury claims in the small claims courts would also be increased from £1,000 to £5,000. What that means is that currently, in cases where a personal injury claim is worth £1,000 or less, the victim’s legal costs are not recoverable from the other side regardless of success. Under the proposal, that limit for recoverable costs would be raised to £5,000.

The effect of that will be that fewer victims suffering from soft tissue injuries would be likely to make claims against the at fault party. The question of legal fees and costs would also become an increasing concern, for both victims and lawyers alike; for fear of hefty legal bills, against falling compensation awards, lawyers and victims would be less inclined to brings claims in many cases. Those seriously injured by soft tissue injuries would be the worst impacted.

At CompensationClaims.co, we remain committed to seeking justice for victims of personal injury. If you have suffered a soft tissue injury in an accident that was not your fault within the last three years, then talk to our expert lawyers today to see whether you could make a claim against the at fault party.

Personal Injury Claims For Soft Tissue Injuries

Posted by Oliver on March 15,2017

Recent years have seen soft tissue injuries becoming increasingly controversial and a topic of legal policy and reform. But what exactly are soft tissue injuries?

Soft tissue injuries are defined as any damage or trauma to, or overuse of, any ligaments, tendons or muscles (the tissues that surround and coat and the skeletal structure). Many personal injury claims involve soft tissue injuries, typically whiplash. It can be hard to define and diagnose soft tissue injuries, as they rarely show up on medical scans. Indeed, common symptoms often manifest themselves after the trauma or accident that caused the injury.

Such injuries usually arise after a heavy blow or impact to the area in question; for example, a heavy impact to the legs in a bad fall, whiplash in a car accident, and a sprained wrist from incorrectly handled equipment. The level of severity depends often on the impact and severity of the blow or trauma itself. Common soft tissue injuries include bursitis, sprains, strains, contusions and tendonitis. Some very serious soft tissue injuries can lead to a dislocation of the bone or even a fracture. Even if not that severe, prompt medical attention is recommended.

It can be quite easy to suffer from a soft tissue injury – and quite often it is not the victim’s fault. A car accident or an accident at work can leave the injured party suffering from a soft tissue injury, with the accident itself not necessarily being the victim’s fault. Quite often, though, the law allows for victims of no fault accidents to make a claim against the at fault party. Such legal claims can go a long way in seeing justice done, and the at fault party held to account. The compensation awarded in most cases can also go a long way for a victim who has been unable to work on account of their personal injuries.

CompensationClaims.co has for many years been helping and advising those suffering from personal injuries after a no fault accident to make a legal claim. Talk to our specialist lawyers today to discuss your soft tissue personal injury claim.

Whiplash Claim Reform Proposals

Posted by Oliver on March 8,2017

In an ongoing series of legal reforms, once again an old government proposal to reduce damages awarded in whiplash claims and to has moved forward. A recent government consultation period for a paper has now closed, with that paper being finalised and due to be discussed by government in upcoming months.

A key sentiment behind the proposals is to free up valuable court time, and to dismiss frivolous claims. Not only is this a praiseworthy idea, but the side effect would be to reduce car insurance premiums. Insurance companies have overall been supportive of attempts to curb whiplash and soft tissue claims, and have pledged to reduce car insurance premiums by an average of £40. Indeed insurance companies stand to gain tremendously from such soft tissue injury reform. The less paid out from collected premiums, the greater the profits. Savings will also be seen in fewer claims handled – and will hopefully be passed onto customers.

Despite the positives underpinning the proposed reforms – many suffering from soft tissue injuries will suffer. Under the proposals, whiplash compensation payments would be capped, with the maximum amount awarded falling from £1,850 to £425. Many who would seek a legal remedy by making a personal injury claim against the at fault party will now be less inclined to do so, if the damages awarded will essentially be outweighed by increased fees.

Whiplash can leave sufferers in great pain, often for a long time. Traditionally, whiplash is commonly (but not exclusively) caused by car accidents, and despite modern safety features and an increasing emphasis on safe driving, car accidents still occur regularly. After suffering a personal injury in a road traffic accident, it has long been the case that the injured party can seek a legal remedy against the at fault party, and obtain justice an compensation for their injuries.

Under the new whiplash proposals – not any more. According to Justice Secretary Liz Truss MP, for “too long some have exploited a rampant compensation culture and seen whiplash claims an easy payday, driving up costs for millions of law-abiding motorists … These reforms will crack down on minor, exaggerated and fraudulent claims. Insurers have promised to put the cash saved back in the pockets of the country’s drivers.”

The reforms will indeed clamp down on fraudulent claims – but many victims suffering from serious soft tissue injuries will also not be able to seek justice.

For further information on this matter, or to discuss a whiplash personal injury claim, contact our specialist lawyers at Compensation Claims.co to see whether you could make a claim following your whiplash or soft tissue personal injury.

Medical Compensation Claims & Access to Justice

Posted by Oliver on February 27,2017

Doctors and other medical practitioners are dedicated professionals with many years of experience and training. Despite that, the can and do make mistakes in some cases.

Some patients can suffer quite badly, and for a long time, due to a simple incorrect surgical procedure, a misdiagnosis, or similar.The results of medical negligence can be severe and long lasting.

Medical practitioners have a moral and legal duty of care towards their patients. Under that duty of care, patients have the right to make a claim against the doctor, or the surgery or hospital, in question. The tests under tort law for medical negligence claims are onerous and complex, but there are many legal cases over the last several decades that have furthered and championed patients rights – and also protected doctors and nurses from vexatious (frivolous) litigation.

Recent government plans seemingly are contrary of that right of an injured patient to seek compensation following medical negligence.

Firstly, court fees in many areas – including medical negligence – have risen dramatically to very high levels, often making justice unobtainable for many. Secondly, the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) has often acted in a manner that has stalled justice.

The NHSLA is a not for profit arm of the NHS that resolves legal and other disputes. Often these are between doctors and patients. In many cases, an out of court settlement and agreement can be arrived at. In many other cases, a court hearing (or hearings in complex cases) is necessary. As is only right and proper for a public body, safeguarding the public purse, the NHSLA fights hard to defend the NHS in court.

However, one trick often used by the NHSLA is to drag out litigation for many years. Many of those cases should have been settled right at the beginning, or settled out of court. The result of such long winded litigation is to effectively waste tens of thousands of public money. Further, for this and other matters, the NHSLA has never been investigated or held to account.

Returning to the cases of medical negligence being prosecuted – such delay can often cause even more distress to those patients who have suffered already. Further, in some cases an injury arising from medical negligence may not be worth much in terms of compensation – but setting the case, and getting peace of mind, is worth a lot to the injured patient. Even if the compensation awarded is not that much, surely it is the injured patient’s right to be able to seek and obtain justice

One solution of the government’s is to reduce lawyers’ fees. The flaw here is that the fees from successful cases will often have to be used to settle unsuccessful cases. Therefore, many law firms will be reluctant to take on cases which might otherwise be successful due to that financial element, had many medical negligence lawyers will be driven from the sector by low pay. Together, both of those will result in a shocking denial of justice for many.

To find out more, or to discuss a medical negligence claim, contact our specialist medical negligence lawyers at CompensationClaims.co today.

Why To Make A Claim After An Accident At Work

Posted by Oliver on February 23,2017

It is sadly only too easy for accidents at work to occur.

The outcome of an accident at work can leave people injured – sometimes seriously. When that happens, a person’s home and family life can suffer – as can their finances through a lack of earnings. Whilst recovering from an accident at work, many injured employees never consider making a claim for compensation against their employers – but they should. Many other injured employees also feel uncomfortable or bad about making a claim – but they should not.

Firstly, it is a legal right. If the accident meets certain criteria – such as it was not your fault, and happened within the last three years – then legally the employee has the right to seek compensation. You should never feel uncomfortable in seeking your legal rights, on a point of principle.

Another factor which makes employees hesitate in making a claim is a fear of reprisals from their employer. However, under law an employer cannot mistreat you, or discriminate against you, whilst making a personal injury claim against your employer. As such, a claim for compensation can be made without fear of reprisals.

Further – it is not personal. Firstly, employers have a legal responsibility to uphold health and safety, and to ensure a safe working environment. If an accident occurs – then the employer is in most cases held legally responsible for the breach of their duty of care. However, all businesses must have special insurance policies for just such an eventuality; it is those insurance providers who will ultimately be providing the compensation. As such, ultimately any personal injury claim is in reality directed against an insurance provider, and not the employer in question. Any litigation is not personally against the company – but against their insurance provider. Additionally, any litigation will be directed against the employer’s duties under health and safety regulations – not against any line managers or directors. Once again, any compensation claim is not personal.

The uncertainty of legal proceedings also put off many injured employees from making a claim against their employers. The legal process is seen as time consuming, complex, and ultimately the outcome is uncertain. That is why if seeking to make a legal claim for an accident at work, you should seek expert legal representation.

CompensationClaims.co has many years experience in handling all and every type of accident at work claim, and our lawyers will represent your compensation claim to the best of their ability in any litigation. Contact us today to discuss seeking compensation after an accident at work that was not your fault.

Changing Lawyers : Costs & Delays

Posted by Oliver on February 13,2017

In a previous post, it was mentioned that – for many good reasons – a change of lawyer in personal injury litigation can be necessary. Indeed, it is your absolute legal right to choose what legal representation you want for your affairs, personal injury or otherwise.

In that previous post ( http://www.compensationclaims.co/advice/changing-lawyers/) it was mentioned that it was a straightforward process of legal administration to switch lawyers. However, sometimes that is not the case. In some cases, there are unfortunate barriers to changing lawyers.

With many firms, a pattern often seen starts with the first lawyers missing an important fact in a case. From that, the conclusion is that the client does not have a good personal injury claim. The client is advised as such – and the lawyers prepare to close the file. The client requests a second opinion, or fresh legal representation, or even believes that something has been missed. The new lawyers instructed contact the previous lawyers requesting their case files. The previous lawyers should send over their records without delay and cost (excepting reasonable costs and delays due to storage and related) – but sometimes that does not happen.

In quite a few instances, some firms refuse to release the case files unless the new lawyers agree to accept responsibility for the costs incurred in working on the case, on behalf of the client. In this way, the fees and costs originally considered as lost when the case file was closed will be recoverable by the first lawyers, as those costs will be added to any settlement arrived at, either out of court or by a court order. In personal injury litigation, the defendant pays the claimant’s costs – in addition to compensation – if the claimant is successful. Under the terms of most “no with , no fee” agreements, if the claimant loses, those costs are generally cancelled.

If successful, the costs and fees incurred by the first lawyers remains payable, and is reflected in any settlement agreement. Those costs are added to the costs incurred by the second lawyers, and passed on to the original lawyers – provided that the case file is still open, and the advice was to carry on with the case.

However, if the advice was to end the litigation, or the case file was closed, in many cases, those costs and fees incurred are cancelled, and are a loss on the firm’s balance sheets. The client does not owe the first lawyers anything. As such, there is rarely good legal reason for the original firm to ask for the client – via the new lawyers – to guarantee the costs they incurred. However, those fees and costs can indirectly be recovered.

Although in many instances it is easy to transfer a personal injury claim to another lawyer, in some cases it is more difficult, or can impact upon the final settlements and agreements because of how personal injury litigation is funded and resolved finanacially. As such, some lawyers will attempt to hang on to the file, which often delays legal proceedings.

Rest assured, at CompensationClaims.co, we are proactive in transferring cases. We have many years experience in taking over personal injury cases from other legal firms as swiftly as possible, to minimise delays. Your case will be handled professionally and efficiently by our experts, and we will complete the file transfer process with the least delay or fuss possible to you. Many personal injury claims have been successfully resolved by our team at CompensationClaims.co after being transferred from other lawyers.

Contact us today to discuss transferring your personal injury claim to the personal injury experts at CompensationClaims.co.

Industrial Diseases

Posted by Oliver on February 6,2017

Industrial Diseases are essentially illnesses that an employee has contracted during the course of their work, traditionally due to exposure over a long time. In most cases, the illness can take many years to fully develop and manifest itself, or be diagnosed; but during that time the employee is still suffering.

Employers have clear and unambiguous legal obligations concerning the health and safety of their employees, with employers being held liable for any breaches of health and safety. A part of that legal duty of care involves minimising the risk of any employees contracting industrial diseases. All and every precaution must be taken to minimise the risks of any exposure to long term health hazards. These include reducing the impact of any Work Related Upper Limb Diseases (WRULD), minimising the exposure to loud noises, and proper safety equipment and training to reduced the risk of industrial sector illnesses such Vibration White Finger. Asbestos and related conditions are also often classified as an industrial disease.

The problem for employer and employee alike is that such illnesses take a long time to develop and manifest themselves in obvious symptoms. It can also be hard to pinpoint the exact moment or point in time that any negligence occurred that resulted in the employee being injured – or indeed the exact activity. As such, claims against an employer for any suffering due to an industrial disease is handled differently; for example, in many cases the tradional three year statute of limitations for personal injury claims is extended.

As such, tackling industrial diseases is an ongoing matter of health and safety at work. Safety equipment, proper training, breaks, equipment maintenance and similar are all part of efforts taken by management to avoid employees suffering from any industrial diseases. In most cases, the law places the burden of responsibility and liability upon employers if any employee does suffer from Carpal tunnel syndrome, Asbestosis or similar.

The symptoms can occur gradually, over time. However, if suspected, prompt  medical attention and diagnosis is vital. It is important to keep any medical records and diagnoses of any industrial disease, and to obtain supporting evidence and records from the place of work in question, to prove that the illness was indeed contracted at work, over time.

If that is proved to be the case – then it is the employee’s right to seek compensation for their illness, and to take legal action against the employer for their negligence. The law surrounding any such industrial disease litigation can be complicated. As such, it is best to have an expert lawyer representing your claim. At CompensationClaims.co, our lawyers have been handling any number and type of industrial disease compensation claims for many years.

Contact the experts at CompensationClaims.co today to find out more.

Medical Negligence : Informed Consent

Posted by Oliver on January 31,2017

Under law, a doctor or healthcare practitioner has a legal duty of care towards their patients, and their health and well-being. When advising a patient as to medical courses of action for treating ailments and injuries, a further legal and medical doctrine comes into effect, that of informed consent.

The leading cases of Sidaway v. Board of Governors of the Bethlem Royal Hospital [1985] AC 871, Chester v Afshar [2004] UKHL 41 and now Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board [2015] UKSC 11 have set out that obligation. Essentially, the doctor must must fully inform and instruct the patient regarding the risks of any procedure, regardless of how small that risk is. The patient must be fully understanding and accepting of the risks of any medical procedure, and must give their consent prior to any procedure being carried out. In the case that the patient is in a coma, or does not have the mental capacity to understand and make an informed decision – there are other medical and legal rules which come into effect.

Under that duty of care, healthcare practitioners must make every effort to ensure that all procedures are carried out in a manner that is as safe to the patient as possible. The patient, however, must accept and understand that there is an element of risk. As times have changed, modern medicine and medical science is ever more advanced, and can treat an increased array of ailments with great success. However, increasingly more and more delicate and intrusive medical procedures are needed. The scope for error with such complicated procedures is still present.

With Montgomery, medical law has caught up with advances in the medical sector, and has set out the principal of informed consent for the 21st Century, according doctors and patients greater legal protection. Such rules have also seen a subtle shift in the doctor / patient relationship.

Despite such legal protections, it is easy for omissions to occur. Without knowing the risks and side affects, a patient cannot give informed consent. A failure of the healthcare practitioner to fully and clearly define the risks of any procedure runs the risk of legal action – especially if something does happen, and the patient suffers accordingly.

Under their medical duty of care, doctors are obliged to set out all and every risk; failure to do that is in breach of that duty of care, and is considered professional negligence. From that, a claim for personal injury can be made against the doctor or healthcare practitioner, as they will held legally liable for that omission and their (implied) negligence.

Informed consent and medical negligence are tricky and specialist areas of personal injury law. However, our lawyers at CompensationClaims.co have many years experience in successfully handling medical negligence claims – including those where there was no informed consent given by the patient.

Employers & Duty of Care

Posted by Oliver on January 24,2017

Employers have many legal obligations and duties towards their emloyees.

These duties are set out in various statutes and regulations. Of those many duties of employers, the four key established ones are:

1. The legal duty to provide a safe system of work, and safe working practices

2. The legal duty to provide a safe place of work, and to ensure that health and safety legislation is complied with

3. The legal  duty to provide competent employees in the workplace  

4. The legal duty to provide adequate safety systems and PPE, as required 

These four duties are quite arguably the cornerstone of law in England & Wales regarding health and safety at work. With the idea of preventing devasting accidents at work, of those the first one is particularly significant. The concept of providing a safe system of work was defined in Speed v Thomas Swift & Co [1943] KB 557. Quoting from the verdict:

“…the physical lay-out of the job – the setting of the stage, so to speak – the sequence in which the work is to be carried out, the provision in proper cases of warnings and notices and the issue special instructions. A system may be adequate for the whole course of the job or it may have to be modified or improved to meet the circumstances which arise”

That duty of care does not just include devising a safe system of work, but also enforcing it. Employers are required to enforce safe working practices; if there is an accident at work, and it is to me that the cause was employees not following correct and safe procedures, then the employer is still liable. However, there is here a delicate balancing act between the employer’s duty to ensure that a safe system of work is actually being implemented, and the concept of vicarious liability of the employer for the negligent actions of another employee. Both are slightly different under law – but still create duties and labilities. In McDermid v Nash Dredging and Reclamation Co. Ltd [1987] AC 906, a sailor was injured when the Captain himself failed to follow a safe system of working practice. Throughout the litigation, questions of such vicarious liability for the Captain’s actions were considered, but ultimately the House of Lords found that the duty to provide a safe system of work is non-delegable.

What that means is that in addition to devising a safe system of work, the employer is also liable if those safe working practices are not adhered to. As such, overall responsibities for health and safety can never be fully delegated to employees. Simply leaving employees to enforce safe working practices may, if there is an accident at work, not only result in claims of liability against the employee in question vicariously, but also will be legally consodered as the employer being negligent in their own duties regarding health and safety.

Employment law, and personal injury law, is full of cases essentially proving the same point, or variations on the same theme: employers will almost always have overall liability and responsibility for all aspects of health and safety of employees. That rule may vary slightly, but it is a general liability of employers towards employees that can usually never be fully delegated. As such, that duty of care is particularly – and deliberately – wide.

If you have been injured in an accident at work that was not your fault, although it may have been caused by another employee, when considering any legal claim after the accident, in many cases the employer will also automatically bear a degree of responsibility. If you have been injured in an accident at work within the last three years and want to find out more, contact the personal injury specialists at CompensationClaims.co today.

Changing Lawyers

Posted by Oliver on January 18,2017

During any legal claim or case, there are any number of reasons why it might become necessary to change your legal representatives.

For whatever reason, the client might feel not adequately represented in court by their lawyer, or might have lost confidence in them. Another common reason is a breakdown in communication and trust between the client and their lawyer. The lawyer might not be communicating details or progress about the case satisfactorily. Any of those or many other reasons might inspire someone to seek someone else to represent them in court.

The question is – how do you change lawyers half way through a case?

The first thing is always to try to work through any differences. Discuss your concerns with your current solicitor first, to see if any issues or misunderstandings can be cleared up. If that does not work, or if you area still not convinced by your current solicitor – then it is your right to seek different legal representation.

Changing solicitors is actually easier than many imagine. Essentially, once fresh legal representation has been found, the old law firm closes their case files, and ends them to the new lawyers, who open their own files and resume where the old firm left off. At first, there needs to be good communication between the two firms to ensure a seamless transition of the case, and to ensure that all information is transferred over. In the vast majority of cases, there is very little for the client to do, except to sign contractual agreements, and agreements to transfer personal information between the two firms. As far as costs are concerned, again in the vast majority of cases, there are few costs, as the new firm usually agrees to cover the fees and costs incurred by the old law firm – which is reflected in any fees paid by you to the new firm, or funding agreements.

After the change, the legal proceedings will resume as normal – but just with new lawyers.

At CompensationClaims.co, we have received many such transferred files every year. We are always happy to represent those won have suffered personal injury, either from the beginning of their legal claim, or half way through a case. When a file is transferred, we will ensure that we are able to fully and adequately represent you in a timely and efficient manner. Our experienced lawyers will handle your transferred case with the utmost dedication and professionalism. It it that dedication and professionalism that makes many people choose to transfer their personal injury claim to CompensationClaims.co every year.

To find out more, contact the personal injury experts at CompensationClaims.co today.

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