Archive for the ‘Personal Injury’ Category

Personal Injury Law Update – May 2017

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

The Prison and Courts Bill

This Bill has been scrapped as a direct result of the Election being announced and Parliament being dissolved. Claimant representatives will be happy about this, as the Bill contained wide ranging reforms that were potentially unhelpful to Claimants. Amongst the proposals, was the introduction of a system of tariffs for Whiplash claims. This would mean that instead of each case being assessed on its own merits, proposed fixed damages would have been introduced. The Bill also included provision for the increase of the small claims limit in Road Traffic cases to £5,000, with the upper limit in other personal injury cases rising from £1,000 to £2,000. This would effectively mean very little by the way of costs would be recoverable on these cases. Subsequently, personal injury specialists could not take on these cases as they would not be cost effective to do so. This would lead to more litigants in person and a general clogging up of an already turgid and inefficient Courts system. The Bill also proposed banning offers from Defendants without a medical examination.

 

The Introduction of Fixed Fees in Clinical Negligence Cases

Mr Jackson LJ is continuing his crusade to introduce fixed fees in all personal injury claims. He is now overseeing a review of fixed fees in Clinical Negligence cases. A consultation paper has just reached its deadline on this matter. It seems very likely that fixed fees will be introduced at some point for cases valued at £25,000 and less. There is uncertainty as to whether this scheme will be extended as originally suggested to cases valued up to £250,000. His report will be published at the end of July 2017.

Again this is another attempt by the Government to try and reign in legal costs, particularly in cases, which are seen as funded by the tax payer. These cases are very complex and are often difficult to get off the ground without funding for medical experts reports. There are enough problems dealing with these cases without introducing fixed fees. It is also inappropriate in even lower value cases, not only because of the complexity of the cases but without fail the NHSLA, who act as claims handlers for the NHS, always routinely deny liability in all cases. The NHSLA are now staffed by ex-insurance employees, they look at the claims using financial criteria rather than Legal knowledge. Unfortunately, this means extra costs are incurred in pursuing these cases. Again, this scheme will again mean that as it is no longer cost effective to pursue these claims, solicitors will no longer be able to take on this work and access to justice will be denied to Claimants.

If you would like more information, speak to our Personal Injury Solicitor, Zahreen Hussain on 020 7998 7777 or email her at zahreen.hussain@bloomsbury-law.com.

PERSONAL INJURY SERVICES

Spinal Injury Compensation Claims

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

Spinal injuries vary from common ‘whiplash’ to life-changing such as damage to spinal cord and nerves. The most common causes of spinal injury are:

  • Medical malpractice
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Workplace injuries
  • Product liability
  • Premises liability
  • Nursing home negligence
  • Wrongful death situations
  • Constructive site injuries

Spinal cord injury can result in complete or partial loss of movement and sensation affecting our legs (paraplegia) or legs and arms (tetraplegia). Bladder and bowel function are often affected as well. Mobility is very often severely affected and many who suffer spinal cord injury often require wheelchairs and assistance with daily activities. Psychological and psychiatric issues are also very common among those injured as the injuries often cause one to think that the things most important to them in life may never be the same.

Severe injuries to the spine often result in paralysis and loss of body functions causing loss of independence, career, quality of life and affecting the injured’s family life for a long time or forever.  It is often the case that the injured are not aware of their rights and do not receive adequate care and compensation. It is clear that no compensation can ever return the loss of mobility or reverse the psychological damages, however, appropriate compensation will significantly improve the quality of life and provide financial stability for the injured and their loved ones, to be able to afford ongoing therapy, carers and to afford to modify the injured’s home to make mobility easier.

The aspects of care that you may claim compensation for are:

  1. Medical expenses;
  2. Personal suffering and pain;
  3. Loss of earnings – current and future;
  4. Loss of amenity – work, social life and domestic life;
  5. Adaptations to your home; and
  6. Rehabilitation and therapy.

Recent case law has provided guidance to demonstrate that the damages awarded can be substantial as in the case of Walsh v Tesco Ireland Limited [2016] IEHC 322, in which the Claimant, who suffered a back injury having slipped on grapes on the floor of supermarket, was awarded damages of €1,439,495, which Tesco was ordered to pay. In Nolan v Wirenski [2016] IEHC 322 the Judge recognised that calculation of damages in such complex cases of spinal injuries has to be considered on an individual basis as the Claimant often suffers from both physical and psychological trauma over a long-term period. Judge Irvine commented:

“The assessment of damages in personal injuries is not a precise calculation; it is not precise and it is not a calculation”

In Nolan and Wirenski the damages awarded by the court are summarised as follows:

  1. General damages (to date): €125,000;
  2. General damages (future): €135,000;
  3. Past special damages: €110,987;
  4. Loss of earnings for two years: €20,000;
  5. Loss of earnings thereafter: €373,030;
  6. Urology costs (future): €132,750;
  7. Home help: €110,000;
  8. Other expenses: €192,000;
  9. Aids and appliances: €239,846; and

The total of the damages awarded to the Claimant: €1,439,495.

Competent and experienced legal representation is crucial in spinal injury cases from the outset as these matters often tend to be complex and require right expertise. At Bloomsbury Law our specialist lawyers have experience in handling complex cases where liability may initially be denied and we work closely with some of the best and most renowned surgeons in London. We also ensure that care and assistance are provided beyond reaching the settlement – we also advise our clients on matters such as long-term financial planning or rehabilitation within private hospitals and NHS hospitals.

‘’At Bloomsbury Law we understand how devastating an injury to the spine can be. As the Head of Bloomsbury Law’s Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Department, I strive to ensure that my clients are provided not only with quality legal advice but also with a personal and assuring approach which is crucial during such a life-changing event. We have acted in many spinal injury cases in recent years and we have obtained excellent results for our clients.” – Head of Personal Injury and Medical Negligence

If you would like more information, speak to our Personal Injury Solicitor, Zahreen Hussain on 020 7998 7777 or contact us online so we may arrange a call back.

Personal Injury Services

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Slipping on a Wet Floor Claim

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

Almost all slips occur when floors are wet or dirty. Floors contaminated with water, oil, food debris and dust can potentially be hazardous. If the floor has a smooth surface such as standard vinyl, glazed ceramic tiles, varnished wood and some metal floor finishes, it would only take a tiny amount of contamination to present a real slip problem and major injury. Trips can also take place on damaged, uneven and badly laid floors or because obstacles have been left where people do not expect to find them.

Wet floor slips are the most common cause of major injuries at work. Around 90% of these injuries result in fractures and/or broken bones. People often slip on floors that have been left wet after cleaning. Cleaning can present slip and trip hazards to those entering the area being cleaned, including the cleaners themselves. For example, smooth floors left damp and wet after mopping are likely to be extremely slippery and trailing wires from a vacuum or buffing machines can present a life threatening trip hazard.

People rarely slip on clean dry floors. However, floors in poor condition and bad housekeeping are responsible for most trip injuries at work.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires employers to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected by their work activity. For instance, contractors have a general duty towards their client and vice versa. It also requires employees not to endanger themselves or others and use any safety equipment provided.

If you have slipped on a wet floor at work or in a public place through no fault of your own, please get in contact with a member of our personal injury team. We take all cases seriously and realise this may be a stressful and troubling time for anyone who has suffered from a slip and trip. We provide a tailored service and handle each of our clients’ cases with the utmost care and confidence.

If you would like more information, speak to our Personal Injury Solicitor, Zahreen Hussain on 020 7998 7777 or email her at zahreen.hussain@bloomsbury-law.com.

Personal Injury Law Update – August 2016

Thursday, September 1st, 2016

There is now a very worrying trend on the part of the Government in relation to regulating personal injury cases. In the last couple of years, the Government has banned referral fees, introduced fixed fees in Employers and Public Liability cases. They have also extended fixed fees in Road Traffic Accident cases.

All these steps have been introduced to prevent “fat cat” lawyers “milking” the system and fraudulent Claimants making whiplash claims. Unfortunately, this has led to personal injury practises closing and Claimants being denied access to justice. The only beneficiary of the so called reforms are the insurance companies. Again it is the case that the majority of genuine Claimants being punished for a tiny proportion of dishonest ones.

To add insult to injury, the Government has recently made a proposal to raise the small claims limit for Personal Injury claims to £5,000 and to stop compensation payments for minor soft tissues injuries arising from Road Traffic Accidents. The former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne, stated in his Autumn Statement last year that the Government are going to make it harder for people to claim compensation for exaggerated or fraudulent whiplash cases.

Although no concrete plans have yet been announced, this represents another blow to access for justice for ordinary people.

Other recent developments are the introduction of a register for medical practitioners in whiplash claims as well as Medical Agencies as well as the registration of every whiplash case on a national database. This was to try and prevent fraudulent cases and fraudulent medical practitioners, who facilitate them.

There is also the introduction of fixed fees for Medical Negligence Claims under the value of £250,000. This was going to be introduced this Autumn but has been put back. Practitioners will be aware that Clinical Negligence cases are extremely complex and introducing fixed fees for these cases will mean that fixed fees and profit margins are squeezed and therefore there will be fewer Solicitors able and willing to take on these types of cases.

If you would like more information, speak to our Personal Injury Solicitor, Zahreen Hussain on 020 7998 7777 or email her at zahreen.hussain@bloomsbury-law.com.

Fatal Accidents and Inquests

Monday, November 30th, 2015

It is often a worrying and stressful time if you are left dealing with the death of a loved one. Often in cases where the death is accidental or unexplained there will be an Inquest. This will most likely be before any Civil or Criminal proceedings take place. We can represent you at the Inquest as part of any subsequent civil case.

If a death has occurred because of the negligence or breach of duty of a third party, it is possible to make a claim for a Fatal Accident under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934 and/or the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.

Under the Law Reform Miscellaneous Provision Act 1934, the estate of the deceased can bring a claim for Funeral Expenses, General Damages for any pain or suffering i.e. if there was a significant time between the injury and death and General Damages in respect of loss of amenity, when the Claimant is unconscious between injury and death. In addition, claims may be made under this act for Special Damages incurred between death and injury, for example, the cost of care.

Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, dependents can make a claim for Funeral Expenses and dependency, i.e. loss of financial support and statutory bereavement damages. There is a strict requirement as to what constitutes a dependent. This would normally be a husband or wife or other family member. Under the Fatal Accident Act 1976, dependents can claim for loss of money being brought into a household, or loss of the cost of services, such as DIY, loss of fringe benefits, anticipated gifts, loss of pension etc. It may be very difficult in these circumstances, for dependants to act quickly but the limitation period is 3 months from the date of death. We would always be happy to assist in dealing with such cases.

If you would like more information, speak to our Personal Injury Solicitor, Zahreen Hussain on 020 7998 7777 or email her at zahreen.hussain@bloomsbury-law.com.

Ministry Of Justice Proposed Closure Of Courts and Tribunals

Friday, October 2nd, 2015

In yet another blow to Civil Justice, the Ministry of Justice has recently proposed the closure of 91 Courts and Tribunals across England and Wales. This includes 19 County Courts. The Governmental Minster, Shiailesh Vara is currently consulting on these closures with users and professionals. He has stated as follows:-

“The estate costs tax payers an estimated half a billion pounds each year and at present, it is under used. Last year over a third of all Court and Tribunals were empty for more than 50% of their available hearing time.”

This is yet another blow for the administration of Justice and for those attempting to deliver it to the public. Not only has the Government recently increased Court fees (which means that for many it is too expensive to litigate) they are now clamping down on the availability of Courts.

The reasoning behind this is difficult to understand other than one of financial gain. At the moment before the proposed cuts, some Courts are working to a backlog of at least four to five months in dealing with simple allocations as well in some cases straightforward correspondence. These delays impact on effectiveness of the administration of justice and are difficult to explain to lay clients.

An example of this is I issued and served proceedings last September out of the County Court Money Claims Centre, where all new cases now have to be issued. This case was finally transferred to the Central London County Court in April 2015. I now have a Case Management Conference listed for December 2015 over 15 months after issue. It is hard to see how the current delays are going to improve this situation and will probably make matters even worse. In my view this is another short sighted attempt by the Government to sell the Courts to make money at the cost of Justice. The MOJ has its eyes on the disposal value of the Court and Tribunal buildings estimated value of which is in the region of £35 million.

The work load for Courts in Civil cases has increased as the withdrawal of Legal Aid for Family and other Civil Matters means that there is an increase in Litigants in person. These invariably need to be spoon fed through the system and often clog up the Court process.

If you would like more information, speak to our Personal Injury Solicitor, Zahreen Hussain on 020 7998 7777 or email her at zahreen.hussain@bloomsbury-law.com.

Clamping Down On Compensation Culture

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

The Government, has always expressed its determination to clamp down on the so called “compensation culture.” The latest attempt to do so is The Criminal and Justice Court Act 2015, which has recently received Royal Assent, although it has not as yet been enacted. Section 55 of the Act will contain an obligation on Judges to strike out any personal injury claims where there is a finding of fundamental dishonesty.

When the recent Jackson reforms that were introduced in April 2013, the Government introduced One Way Qualified Cost Shifting. Therefore, from April 2013, if a Claimant loses his personal injury case he does not have to pay the Defendant’s costs. If the case is fundamentally dishonest, then this protection is stripped away. This is another example of the Government trying to discourage fraudulent claims. It is however debatable whether fraudulent claims are as widespread as insurers and legislators believe.

This attempt to tackle dishonest claims can be seen in the introduction of the Criminal Justice Court Act 2015. Section 58 of this Act introduces a ban on certain regulated persons (it is unclear whether this applies to solicitors or not) offering inducements to make personal injury cases.

Another step to catch out bogus Claimants is the introduction from the 1 June 2015, of a system whereby Claimants solicitors must search a database to ensure that any potential Claimant has not made multiple claims, which may be fraudulent. This search generates a unique reference number, which must be entered on the CNF on the portal.

In addition, controls have been introduced to prevent medical experts making up reports that are fraudulent. All Medical Experts in road traffic cases now have to be accredited and instructions have to be sent via MedCo Registration Solutions.

If you would like more information, speak to our Personal Injury Solicitor, Zahreen Hussain on 020 7998 7777 or email her at zahreen.hussain@bloomsbury-law.com.

Employers Liability Claims Update

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 became law in October 2014 and has since changed the face of employer’s liability claims.

Prior to this act, employers had a duty under Common Law, as well as a statutory duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the so called “Six Pack” of Regulations introduced in 1992, to provide safe place/method/equipment and access to work for their employees.

Under this former regime, claims by employees against their employers were easier to prove. By showing negligence on the part of the Employer and foreseeability of the accident claims could succeed. Strict liability, in respect of certain sections of the legislation, meant that they would succeed in their claims. Therefore, it was difficult for the employer to disprove fault in relation to defective equipment.

The new act has changed this position entirely. The background to this is the government clamping down on the so called “compensation culture”. There was a general feeling that Health and Safety was becoming ridiculous and was causing a great deal of red tape. Unfortunately, this is another way in which the government have attempted to reduce the numbers of claims made by employees. In the writers view this is another way of restricting access to justice. The previous legislation was there for a very good reason as employers often avoided paying compensation for their acts of negligence. By introducing this new legislation, accidents in the workplace have become more difficult to prove and there is a danger of reverting back to Victorian standards of safety, where the employee had little or no rights of redress for the employer’s negligence.

The new legislation amendment reverses the present position on civil liability, i.e, unless any exceptions apply, it is only possible to claim for compensation, where negligence has been proved. This means that liability under statutory duty has been removed. The Claimant can now only rely on Common Law negligence. In line with other amendments, reforms of Personal Injury Claims, the Government is seeking to again limit the circumstances under which a Claimant can successfully receive damages for an injury at work. The Claimants can still rely on breach of Health and Safety Legislation however, only as evidence, rather than as a statutory obligation. The effect of this is that Defendants/Employers are in a stronger position. This leads to claims being defended with fewer admissions of liability at an early stage. Taking on these claims is less attractive for solicitor as there are now also fixed fees in cases valued under £25,000.

This may leave many employees feeling dejected, however at Bloomsbury Law we have experience in dealing with such cases.

If you would like more information on employers liability claims, speak to our Personal Injury Solicitor, Zahreen Hussain on 020 7998 7777 or email her at zahreen.hussain@bloomsbury-law.com.

Changes To Whiplash Claims

Monday, June 29th, 2015

There have been a number of recent changes to the law governing whiplash claims. The background to this is the Government’s concern that there has been widespread fraud by Claimants making claims for exaggerated or non-existent whiplash injuries. This, together with the idea that the compensation culture has gone out of control has led the Government to introduce checks and balances to ensure that all future claims are genuine.

The reforms began some years ago with the introduction of fixed fees for solicitor’s costs in road traffic claims. This reform continued in April 2013, with the implementation of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, which came into force last year in April 2013. This act made sweeping changes to all personal injury claims.

From then all road traffic claims with a value of up to £25,000.00, would need to be registered on the Claims Portal and in addition fixed costs were further reduced. The Claims portal was the Government’s attempt to simplify the process surrounding road traffic cases and as a result to further reduce the fixed fees recoverable. These reforms were supported by insurers and the ABI, in order to try and reduce the number of claims made and subsequently the cost of motor premiums.

Further reforms have been introduced this year to ensure that only genuine claims can be made. From the beginning of this year a directory has been set up for experts. Claimants can only use certified medical agencies and experts to prevent further fraud. Fixed fees have also been introduced for medical reports. The reasoning behind this is to discourage pre-med settlements and also to introduce independence into the medical legal reporting frame work.

From the 4 June 2015, a further amendment has been made to the rules governing whiplash claims. From that date, any claim registered on the Claims portal notification form sent on or after that date must show a unique reference number that is generated by a search of a database. This database will ascertain whether the Claimant has made frequent or numerous claims for whiplash. This again, is to ensure that there are no duplicate or fraudulent claims. All these steps mean that it has become difficult to make whiplash claims.

Unfortunately, it has also become uneconomic for many solicitors to take on these cases as the fixed costs recoverable are so low that it is not economic to pursue these cases. There is always the opportunity to take out a success fee from the Claimants damages of up to 25%. We, however, in order to remain competitive in the market place, do not take success fee from our client. Claimants are frequently shopping around to find the most competitive solicitor to take on their case.

If you would like more information on whiplash claims, speak to our Personal Injury Solicitor, Zahreen Hussain on 020 7998 7777 or email her at zahreen.hussain@bloomsbury-law.com.

Information on Clinical Negligence Claims

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

It is not surprising bearing in mind the financial problems of the NHS, that the number of medical negligence claims that I have dealt with are on the rise. In the last few years, I have dealt with a variety of different types and values of claims arising out of negligence of medical professionals in both the private sector and in the NHS.

Clinical negligence claims can involve an elderly client failing out of bed because there were no cot sides to her bed. I have also dealt with a case which involved the wrong drug being dispensed by a chemist to our client. I have also dealt with a case a couple of years ago when clients suffered a psychiatric injury as a result of the hospital’s failure to deal with a twin foetus when performing a procedure following a miscarriage. Our client was not aware that the twin was still in situ and had the misfortune to give birth to the dead foetus whilst at home. In all these case I was able to recover damages for the client for pain and suffering and any financial losses that followed the negligence.

However, clinical negligence claims are very difficult to prove. The appropriate burden of proof is whether, the doctor or other health professional failed to meet the standard of a reasonable body of practitioners, also in the same field. This is known as the “Bolam Test”.

The matter is often complicated by the fact that in addition to failing to meet the relevant standard of care, the Claimant has to also prove that this negligence has resulted in the injuries or has significantly contributed to them. For example if a cancer is misdiagnosed, the Claimant needs to prove that in addition to the negligence and breach of duty, that an earlier diagnosis would have made a difference to the prognosis. If the negligence has made no difference to the outcome or prognosis then there is no cause of action. The burden of proof is on the Claimant and the standard of proof is, on the balance of probability.

It is necessary for any claim to be brought within 3 years of the incident or the date of knowledge i.e. when the Claimant was aware of the claim and wrong doing. Although it is possible to rely on the Courts discretion to extend the time for pursuing a claim it is advisable to act as soon as possible. It is best to approach a solicitor as soon as the Claimant has knowledge of the wrong doing, as these cases are often long drawn out and can take several years to complete. These types of cases will rely heavily on experts who will need to look at whether the standard of care was below that expected. If breach and causation are established further experts will need to address the injury and losses by preparing a report on the Claimants condition and prognosis.

The parties will then try and agree a settlement. If the losses involve financial losses i.e. loss of earnings or the cost of extra care, further experts in these fields may be instructed to assist the court decide the value of the Claimants case. If the parties are unable to reach a settlement on either breach or valuation then the court will manage the case to trial, where the court will decide these aspects.

If you would like more information on clinical negligence, speak to our Personal Injury Solicitor, Zahreen Hussain on 020 7998 7777 or email her at zahreen.hussain@bloomsbury-law.com.