Queen’s Speech & The Law (II) : Legal Reform

Posted by Oliver on June 28,2017

According to Law Society President Robert Bourns the UK is a world leader in promoting human rights, and the government’s commitment actively to enhance this commitment and ensure our rights are there for all of us is to be applauded and is important to the reputation of the UK.”

As such, he expressed his disappointment and dismay at proposals in the recent Queen’s Speech which opened the new Parliamentary year (which will run for two years instead of one year due to Brexit negotiations).

Although there was much for the Law Society and the legal sector to applaud (as set out in the previous post), the Queen’s Speech also set out plans for the new government to continue with controversial reforms to modernise the court system, and also to reduce and limit personal injury claims.

This was not so favourable received by the Law Society. The legal sector has long expressed concerns about the proposed changes and reforms. Following the Queen’s Speech, it was Mr Bourn’s turn; “Continued progress towards the careful modernisation of our courts system is to be welcomed, although care will need to be taken to ensure that justice is not diluted as it is modernised … However, we are very disappointed that the government has decided to revive its misguided whiplash reforms … It will be a clear injustice if the government persists with denying essential legal advice to those injured through no fault of their own – if government is truly committed to targeting fraudulent claims, it should do just that.”

Although designed to tackle fraudulent or inflated personal injury claims, the reality is that much of the reforms will actually impact upon genuine and serious personal injury claims. As such, the fear in the legal sector is that many victims of personal injury will no longer be able to make a compensation claim for their injuries if the whole range of measures goes through.

Moreover, the reforms to the court system and structure could potentially limit access to justice for many – including civil litigation and personal injury claims. In a society backed by the rule of law, and imbedded with the concept of justice being freely available and accessible to all, any limitations to that ability to seek justice fly in the face of those ancient principles. Such a limitation on access to justice is also fundamentally unfair, and simply not right in an open, democratic society.

Those changes and reforms are on the Parliamentary agenda. However, there is no telling if those reforms will actually be passed. If they are passed, in the Parliamentary proceedings, those reforms might themselves be altered or toned down to secure the passage of the necessary legislation through both Houses of Parliament. Those discussions might even end in no legislation being passed to enact the reforms.

Whether the reforms ae enacted or onto, at CompensationClaims.co we remain committed to obtaining justice for those suffering from a personal injury. We will work hard to represent you, the injured party, and to fight your legal case and claim following a personal injury accident that was not your fault, to the best of our ability, and within the parameters set out and defined by the law – whether those change or not.

At ComensationClaims.co, we remain committed to seeking justice for those suffering from personal injury, in whatever legal landscape we find ourselves in.

Queen’s Speech & The Law (I)

Posted by Oliver on June 22,2017

After a General Election that was surprising and divisive from the moment it was called, that resulted in what many felt was an unsatisfactory alliance and arrangement with the majority Conservative Party and the Northern Irish DUP, in the following weeks Parliament was officially opened for the next Parliamentary year.

In an ancient ceremony full of traditional British pomp and circumstance, the Queen processed to Parliament and gave the annual Queen’s Speech, outlining what the government of the day would seek to enact in legalisation that forthcoming Parliamentary year.

Regarding the legal sector, there was much to be positive about. With EU law and regulations very much intertwined with domestic legislation, prominent in the government’s agenda was a package of measures to make the legal changes needed to facilitate an impending Brexit. In response to the Queen’s Speech, Law Society President Robert Bourn stated that “unravelling and redefining ties and laws made over the past 40 years, while providing as much certainty to individuals and businesses as is possible is a task of real complexity … The government’s focus on providing this certainty is welcomed, and we hope the series of bills announced today will allow parliament to work through these issues carefully, and give them the scrutiny they deserve … [The Law Society] will continue to offer the government the expertise and insights of the solicitor profession, and encourage it to draw on that to create a new relationship with the European Union that preserves and enhances our economy, our jobs, and the rights we all enjoy.”

Additionally, the Queen’s Speech gave greater prominence to a renewed focus on protecting and safeguarding the legal rights of the most vulnerable was also warmly welcomed. According to Mr Bourns, British laws and legislation “must be accessible to the most vulnerable in our society, and it was pleasing to see that the government will give this attention in the coming parliamentary session … A significant focus on combating modern slavery, both at home and abroad; law changes to protect victims of domestic violence; and updating our employment law to reflect modern working practices are all important steps which can help those who need it most.”

Whilst applauding the government’s intentions to promote and safeguard human rights and employment rights, proposals in the Queen’s Speech to modernise the court system, and to address personal injury claims were not so favourably received – but that is for another post.

It is reassuring, however, that this new government, for this new Parliamentary session remains committed to upholding human rights and employment rights. It is those rights that safeguard and protect citizens in any number of situations and occasions. Those and related rights and laws cannot be taken lightly, or taken for granted.

The Danger of Heights

Posted by Oliver on May 23,2017

Working at heights is often required in many jobs and industries. Those working on building sites or construction yards, those working in the flies of a theatre, those working building a large ship, or those working as window cleaners all have to work at height.

However, working at heights can also often result in accidents, and is quite dangerous. That is why extra precautions have to be taken, and extra safety procedures followed. Training is often mandatory, as are safety harnesses, hard hats, specific working practices whilst at height, and precautions taken whilst ascending and descending. Working at any height above the ground needs to be attempted with all and every care and attention.

Despite all the best precautions, safety equipment, and training – it is sadly too easy for something to happen. A small accident or mistake can have big consequences when quite high off the ground. Ropes and equipment used – even safety equipment – can tangle people up. Even if there is a firm barrier, it is still too easy to fall from a height.

All of those, and many more incidents, can result in someone having an accident and ending up either falling from a height or seriously injured by working at a height.

In line with the law, in every workplace all and every precaution must be taken to minimise the risk of any accidents; this includes workplaces that involve heights. That workplace and the management will beheld to be legally responsible (unless proven otherwise) for any accident that occurred. In this way, an injured employee is able to make a claim against those held to be responsible following an accident at height that resulted in a personal injury.

Working at heights in any industry can be exhilarating, what with the views, and sensation of being so high. However, working at height can be inherently dangerous, and can ultimately result in a (often serious) personal injury if all precautions are not carried out. The law allows the injured party to make a claim against the party responsible for the accident, and allows compensation to be awarded in most cases following such an accident at work, whether heights were involved or not.

To discuss an injury that you recieved following an accident that occurred whilst working at height, contact the personal injury experts at CompensationClaims.co.

Negligence And The Law

Posted by Oliver on May 18,2017

Negligence. It is a very important word in law.

Civil litigation – in personal injury and other tortious cases – often depends on one key word – negligence. But what exactly does that word mean, and how is it defined?

According to the law, companies and professionals (such as accountants and doctors) are expected to act within the standards and abilities of the reasonable man, or within reasonable expectations. If those standards are breached, if by an act or omission the professional or the company management fall short of acting competently and within the abilities of the average person, then the person or company can be said to be negligent.

If there was such negligence, and an accident was the result – then a personal injury could very well follow. After an accident that resulted in a personal injury, then the injured party in most cases can make a claim against those responsible – usually the management of the company in question, whom the law automatically assumes to have responsibility until proven otherwise.

The key issue in proving and settling a legal claim is negligence; was the person or company negligent in discharging their duties and responsibilities to the standards expected?

The outcome of the case, and of the personal injury litigation, can depend on the answer to that question. Negligence is considered in law to be failing to act with reasonable care and attention, a failure to adhere to the reasonable practices expected of the average person or professional. Negligence will result of those reasonable standards are breached. Such a breach can also often result in a dangerous situation – which in turn could cause an accident – which can often lead to someone being injured, often seriously.

The law also attributes blame to the party considered to be negligent, unless proven otherwise. A legal claim can be made, and compensation sought, from that negligent party. Negligence can therefore be an expensive word for that at fault party.

In civil law, negligence is quite well defined, as a word and as a legal concept. The word negligence is used slightly differently in the legal sector, and outside it.

To discuss negligence further, or to see whether you might be able to bring a claim if you were injured due to another party’s negligence – then contact the personal injury lawyers at Compensation Claims.co today.

Pedestrians & Road Accidents

Posted by Oliver on May 10,2017

Pedestrians are often classed as vulnerable road users.

It is easy to see why. With drivers paying attention to the roads, it is often easy to miss seeing a pedestrian on the pavement. Zebra crossings, or large crossroads or roundabouts with pedestrian crossings lend themselves only too easily to road accidents. Pedestrians can often be concealed behind junctions, hedges or even open car doors. Indeed, quite often pedestrians can unwittingly cause a road accident themselves by not paying due care and attention to the road as they cross, or by jaywalking.

Car drivers have safety precautions such as airbags. Passengers have safety features such as (mandatory) seat belts. Pedestrians have no such protection from road accidents involving cars. Additionally, Most cars can brake very quickly now, or otherwise manoeuvre out of the way of a pedestrian in many cases. Pedestrians quite often can not do the same.

Accordingly, pedestrians are very much considered to be vulnerable road users. Despite modern safety features in vehicles – accidents on the roads still happen. In many cases it is the pedestrian who comes off the worse, and receives the worse injuries following a road traffic accident. In some accidents, the injuries received by a pedestrian can be very serious indeed.

Following suffering a personal injury in a road traffic accident that was not their fault, a pedestrian (or any injured party) can make a legal claim against the at fault party. Provided several legal tests under tort law are met, civil litigation proceedings can be started against the one responsible for the road accident. In some cases, the accident can end up additionally categorised as a criminal offence; the at fault party could have to pay compensation to the injured party, and also can end up with criminal proceedings initiated against them by the police arising from dangerous driving charges.

In any event, making a legal claim after being injured in a road traffic accident, whether pedestrian, driver or passenger, is more about seeking justice, and bringing the at fault party to court after their negligence or actions, rather than seeking any compensation. However, following a serious injury that resulted in lengthy medical treatment or time off work – any compensation awarded can be quite helpful.

To discuss making a personal injury claim following a road traffic accident, contact the specialist lawyers at CompensationClaims.co.

The Jackson Reforms a few years ago were vastly unpopular and unwelcome amongst the legal profession. The major aspect of the Jackson Reforms was essentially more reductions in legal aid, and a restructuring of the personal injury sector, with new guidelines imposed.

Amongst the Jackson Reforms, and other regulatory changes, was the fear that CFA’s would be totally abolished. Conditional Fee Arrangements  (CFA) are a method of funding personal injury and other civil cases. Essentially, the claimant does not pay any legal fees or costs up front. In most cases, all costs are met by the law firm representing them. If unsucessful in their legal action, then the firm will absorb the financial loss in most cases. If successful in court,  then the opposing lawyers will meet the legal costs, or costs and fees will be deducted by the lawyers from the successful claimant’s final settlement.

More popularly referred to as “no win no fee” case funding, they were a fair way of obtaining justice. In an open democracy that values and supports the rule of law, it is horrendous that many claimants suffering personal injuries after minor (or major) accidents are simply unable to obtain justice and compensation as a result of an accident that was not their fault or not due to thier own negligence. With CFA’s, such claimants could still obtain justice. Their cases could still be funded, even though it was after any settlement and legal action. Those injured could retain a lawyer to present their claim in court, using a CFA method of funding.

The Jackson Reforms, and other changes to the procedures and rules behind civil litigation, seemingly were the death knell of CFA’s. By extension, the end of the ability of many being able to obtain justice following an accident. Although the scale of CFA’s have been reduced, and in some firms replaced – many law firms in the personal injury sector still offer them as a means of funding personal injury cases, so justice and compensation can be obtained by those suffering a personal injury following an accident.

However, those many changes to the personal injury sector have had a significant impact upon both law firms and the ability of injured claimants to make such claims in other ways. Despite having the right to make a legal claim against the at fault party in the event of being injured in an accident that was not your fault – the ability to do so in practice has been eroded the last few years. There are still many law firms who champion such injured claimants and litigation, and who still work hard to see justice done – including by offering CFA’s in order to fund cases that normally would not make it to court.

CompensationClaims.co is one such firm. Call us to today to discuss your personal injury claim – and we will work hard to see justice done in your case, and to successfully settle your case against the at fault party.

Consent & Personal Injury

Posted by Oliver on April 12,2017

Volenti Non Fit Injuria is a Latin expression used in civil litigation, an by extension personal injury.

Literally translated, it means “to the consenting, no injury is done.” What that means to the layman is that there are situations and circumstances where an individual places themselves in a position of risk. It is assumed that they understood the nature and severity of the risk, and so consented (unintentionally) to any injury they might receive.

When, however, would someone willingly place themselves in danger?

The law mostly uses this theory in situations similar to sports fixtures. For example, if the victim was a spectator at a Formula 1 race, and one of the race cars suffered a major fault that meant that they accidentally crashed into the stands, then it would be hard for anyone injured from that to make a claim against organiser or driver. By buying their ticket, and standing by the race track to watch the race, spectators have unintentionally and tacitly consented to receive any injury that might occur. Skiing is another such example; by the very hazardous nature of the sport, by taking part in downhill or alpine skiing, the skier has taken responsibility for any risk and injury.

That seems quite unfair, in some cases involving personal injury. That is why volenti non fit injuria (often simply abbreviated to volenti) is considered as a partial defence on the part of the defendant in a negligence and personal injury claim. Volenti cannot (in most cases) totally exempt liability – but it can partially deflect the negligence and responsibility.

Another important point is that the injured party has to consent. The mere fact or knowledge or tacit assumption of the risk is in most cases not sufficient. Volenti will only work if the injured party has explicitly signed or acknowledged a waiver. So, the skier would have signed a waiver when they hired their skis, or got their lift pass, and the Formula 1 spectator would have to sign a waiver when they collected their ticket, or entered the stands.

Although on the fact of it volenti seems slightly unfair – volenti is actually very useful. Aside from deflecting frivolous personal injury claims, the nature of the defence, and the stringent requirements, actually means that in most cases volenti will be hard to apply by a defendant. As such, those impacted upon by a personal injury have more chance to make a successful claim against the party responsible.

To find out more, or to discuss a personal injury claim where volenti may or may not apply, contact the personal injury experts at CompensationClaims.co today.

It was in the late 1960’s that experienced driving instructor Eric Nettleship agreed to teach Lavinia Weston how to drive to drive in her husband’s car – only after he had inquired the relevant insurance policy. It was during one of those driving lessons that Mrs Weston lost control of the car, and caused a road traffic accident. In the accident, Mr Nettleship suffered an injury. He made a claim against Mrs Weston for her negligence. In court, her lawyer argued that the Mr. Nettleship was well aware of her lack of driving skill and that the court should therefore make allowances for Mrs Weston’s driving since she could not be expected to drive to the same standards of an experienced driver.

It was already established that all road users owe a duty of care to other road users, with all drivers being held to the standard, skill and expertise of the reasonable, average, every day driver. But did that apply here?

The case went through the courts, eventually reaching the Court of Appeal. It was decided there that holding Mrs Weston to the lower standards of a learner driver would complicate matters, and unintentionally bring in a sliding scale of shifting standards depending on experience – and not just for drivers. It was therefore held that Mrs Weston should be held to the same standards as an experienced, regular driver.

This leading case of Nettleship v Weston [1971] is still referred to today. From that case the principle arose that the standard of skill and care to be exhibited and expected should be that of the average and reasonable person – at least at law. It is not just road users who are held to the same standard; professionals such as doctors are all held to the same standards, as are trades workers such as electricians, creative workers such as hair stylists, and so on.

If that average and reasonable standard is breached – and someone is injured as a result – then the at fault party van be held liable, as they did not adhere to the standards expected of the average, reasonable person or professional. As such, if you have been injured and it was not your fault, you could make a personal injury claim against the at fault party for their negligence in not acting to the required standards.

To make a successful personal injury claim, other criteria also need to be met under law. To find out more, to discuss whether your personal injury could entitle you to make a compensation claim, contact the expert lawyers at CompensationClaims.co today.

Occupiers Liability

Posted by Oliver on March 28,2017

How often have you entered a large building or company, and laboriously had to “check in” at a reception desk? Aside from reasons of practicality an ease, fire safety, and general health and safety, and other reason for those and other procedures is legal – Occupiers Liability.

Under the legal doctrine of Occupiers Liability, the owners, managers or operators (the “Occupiers”) have a responsibility towards people on the premises. Those people could be anyone; employees, managers, contractors, visitors, or even members of the public. For example, an art gallery has a legal liability and duty of care towards visitors, just as a café has a similar duty to those seeking a hot drink, and an insurance firm has towards an external IT specialist coming in to fix a computer issue.

Under Occupiers Liability, owners and operators of premises and buildings a have a duty of care towards all those on the premises, at any time, for any reason. Under the Occupiers Liability Acts of 1957, 1985 and 1995, and supported by various other government regulations and case law, owners and occupiers of premises are obliged to take all reasonable care and precautions regarding health and safety, for anyone who enters the premises. Those precautions are not specified, but are expected and required to be appropriate to the building, premises, and nature of the building or operations. For example, a construction site would require all those entering to have a basic health and safety brief, and to be issue with high – visibility jackets and hard hats. A museum would be required to post warning signs if appropriate, and to ensure that the building open to the public was as safe as reasonably possible, whilst not restricting access to the exhibits. The nature of the precautions taken varies from premises to premises, and from business to business.

Under the concept of Occupiers Liability, if an accident occurs, and someone (be they employee, visitor or contractor) is hurt, in many cases the law will portion some blame to the owners and operators. The legal thinking will be that the occupiers were careless or negligent in their health and safety precautions, or otherwise did not obey the various legal requirements imposed. It is up to the occupier or operator to dispute that, and to prove that all appropriate and reasonable precautions were indeed taken. Indeed, that is why in virtually all premises and buildings and companies, a specific and specialist (and valid and up to date) Occupiers Liability Insurance policy must be held, in accordance with legislation.

If there is an accident resulting in a personal injury – in many cases it is possible to make a claim for compensation citing Occupiers Liability. If the accident was not your fault, and resulted in a significant personal injury, it is your right (providing certain legal criteria are met) to make such a claim. Often a personal injury can leave someone seriously hurt, or requiring lengthy medical treatment. Quite often the cause of the accident was not your fault, but that of another party – such as the owners or managers of the premises where the accident occurred, either directly or indirectly.

To discuss a personal injury compensation claim under the doctrine of Occupiers Liability, contact the personal injury experts at CompensationClaims.co today.

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