General PI News
Victims of violent crimes can suffer considerable injuries that lead to a loss of earnings and both physical and mental suffering. Where the offender is not caught or unable to pay compensation for those injuries, the victim does not have to be left out of pocket. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority was set up as a government run scheme to ensure that these victims received fair compensation for their injuries and resulting financial losses.
Those that suffer personal injuries through no fault of their own are typically able to claim compensation. Victims of car accidents can blame from the driver at fault while employees injured at work can often claim compensation from their employer. In both these cases, it is usually an insurance policy that will cover the financial figure that is paid to the claimant. For victims of violent crimes, however, the offender will not have insurance to cover them, assuming that the offender has even been identified in the first place.
Blameless, direct victims of crimes like assault or aggravated burglary may still be able to claim compensation for their injuries, however, through a government run scheme called the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. This scheme was designed to ensure that victims had an identifiable means of gaining financial compensation; compensation that is not only paid according to the injuries a person receives but to cover the cost of lost earnings and medical fees.
In order for a victim to be considered eligible for the scheme they must have been blameless during the crime and they must typically be a UK resident. They must also claim within two years of the date of the incident, have reported the crime to the police, and be able to prove injuries and loss to receive their compensation package.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority is a government run scheme that is designed to ensure that direct victims of crime are able to receive compensation for their injuries and losses. The scheme does have certain eligibility requirements but, as long as these are met, victims of violent crimes will be able to claim for their injuries.
Whether physical or sexual, abuse can leave physical and mental damage that affects a person throughout the whole of their lives. Most people find that they are unable to report the case when it happens, because of fear or shame, and this makes judging abuse claims very difficult. Tracking down the offenders and being brave enough to face them can be extremely challenging but it also brings the potential of financial compensation.
Typically, compensation claims for victims of abuse are levelled at individuals in civil cases or against local authorities. However, it is not always possible for the victim to be able to track down the offender; they may have been unknown to the victim or they may have moved on or passed away. This does not necessarily mean that the victim has lost their opportunity to seek financial compensation for the abuse. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority offers a means of claiming compensation for these victims.
The CICA is a government scheme that provides compensation to victims that are unable to claim from the offender. They pay a majority of the total amount that is deemed suitable for the level of injuries that a person suffers. While this may not be as high a figure as awarded in civil cases, with an experienced and skilled solicitor or lawyer it is possible to ensure that the victim receives an amount that is reasonable and fair considering their injuries and level of abuse.
It isn’t strictly necessary to have legal representation when pursuing a claim through the CICA but there are many documented instances of claimants receiving considerably more once they have instructed a solicitor. Even those that have started the process and received an offer can enrol the services of a professional solicitor to enjoy a more realistic and reasonable package.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority is a government scheme that provides compensation payments for victims of violent crime. People that suffer personal injury as a result of a period of abuse may be able to successfully claim compensation for the physical and mental injuries that they suffer.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Topper is the litigation manager at Stocks Legal Personal Injury Solicitors and is highly experienced in all types of personal injury cases. He is highly focussed on client care and getting the maximum compensation that is available for his clients and their families. He rightly sees personal injuries as a real must for the English legal System as without a proper compensation system, many injury people can be left with no support or ongoing medical treatment. If you have any questions about this article or would like to speak to Mike Topper please call him on 0800 988 9055 or click here to send him an email.
The government have revealed figures that show the three most dangerous industries in which to work. They take into account the likelihood of suffering an accident at work or becoming afflicted with an industrial disease. Regardless of how potentially dangerous a job is, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that employees have as safe and risk-free an environment in which to work. All employers should take care to offer a safe environment but it is these three industries that have the highest risk level according to the figures.
Construction remains the most dangerous industry. Only around 5% of the workforce are found in the construction industry but this is where 22% of work related fatalities and 10% of work related injuries are recorded. In 2011/2012 this meant that 600,000 working days were lost because of accidents at work while a further 1.7m working days were lost due to illnesses directly attributed to the workplace. The most common injuries were trips and falls while 5,000 cases of cancer were recorded due to exposure to harmful chemicals.
The agriculture industry utilises many types of heavy machinery and these are often responsible for accidents at work. 33 deaths were recorded during 2011/2012 although it should be noted that this is an improvement over previous years but it still means that agriculture ranks among the most dangerous and potentially life threatening industries in the UK. It is also believed that many accidents in this industry are not reported but even with potentially depleted figures, it still has high fatality and injury rates.
Manufacturing is another area where the use of heavy machinery combined with exposure to potentially harmful chemicals is rife and employees often pay the price. The 2011/2012 period saw 31 manufacturing related deaths, which represents around 25% of all recorded work related fatalities. The industry is also responsible for 16% of injuries caused by accidents in the workplace. Only 10% of the workforce are employed in the industry.
Every employer has a legal responsibility to ensure that their employees, and everybody on their premises is as safe and free from harm as possible. Workplace practices, training, and hazard prevention should be considered an integral role for any company or employer and while the majority of organisations do get it right, there are those that fail their staff. Employers run the risk of having legal action taken against them and litigious claims laid by injured parties and employees that contract so called industrial illnesses and diseases.
There are various ways in which an employer may found liable for an employee’s accident or illness and if it can be proven then the employee has the right to make a claim against their employer. Industrial claims can total large sums of money and this is why employers’ liability insurance is a legal requirement for any business that employs even a single member of staff. Employees that are involved in an accident at work or that contract an industrial illness should first report the incident to later aid their litigation claim.
The UK has earned the unfavourable title of being the whiplash capital of the world and recent figures released by the Faculty of Actuaries seems to back up this claim. Whiplash claims now total £2bn a year and reports indicate that anywhere between 50% and 90% of claims are fraudulent. The figures have catapulted Britain to the front of the queue as the most litigious country in the world, ahead of the US which is typically considered to be the worst offender in such cases.
Whiplash is a serious injury and it can have a negative impact on a person’s life for many years following an accident but it is also difficult to categorically prove or deny. Generally, it is down to medical experts to determine whether the injury is real or not and this allows for huge margins of errors, arguably confounded by the fact that many GPs are wary of making potentially costly and damaging mistakes.
Following an announcement by major insurers that fraudulent whiplash claims were adding more than £100 a year onto insurance premiums, the government launched a campaign to determine how best to reduce the number of whiplash claims. Their aim was to reduce car insurance premiums although no sign of reductions has yet been spotted. Over time, a reduction in premiums may be seen but with the changes only coming into force from 1st April the results and effects will take time to filter through.
Figures released by the Faculty of Actuaries shows that whiplash claims make up a huge proportion of personal injury claims that arise from road traffic accidents. In fact, 80% of all road traffic accident claims are whiplash related and this accounts for a total bill of £2bn, putting Britain firmly at the fore of whiplash claims throughout the world. While the US is often considered to be the most litigious country, these recent findings place the UK above the US in terms of claims.
Figures do vary but using a conservative estimate of 50% of whiplash claims as being fraudulent this means that £1bn of compensation is being paid out to people that have not really suffered the injury, or have not suffered to the extent that they claim. Other figures suggest that the figure could be as high as £1.8bn with 90% of claims being fraudulent or exaggerated. With that said, those that suffer injury or loss as a result of an accident that is not their fault do have a right to compensation and therefore have a right to make a personal injury claim.
The Association of British Insurers launched a campaign that suggested people involved in road traffic accidents be checked by healthcare professionals in order to support their claim of whiplash. The ABI wanted to force claimants to undergo these checks before being able to make a claim for their injury. Those that believe they have suffered a whiplash or other injury as a result of a car crash should ensure that they receive medical treatment as soon as possible, at least to prevent the injury from worsening.
200 military veterans have been denied access to mesothelioma compensation that civilians in exactly the same position would be entitled to and would receive. The MoD will not pay out to military personnel that were exposed to asbestos before the year 1987 even though a proposed Government Bill that is making its way through the House of Lords would see more than 3,000 sufferers in a similar position receive compensation of around £100,000 each.
The dangers of asbestos have been known for decades now and since the turn of the century a number of people that were exposed to the deadly substance and its spores have successfully been able to claim compensation from employers that put them in harm’s way. Massive law suits have been filed and even where employers and their insurers no longer exist, compensation has been available.
However, the MoD will not award compensation to those military personnel that were exposed prior to 1987. It is believed that this will affect around 200 veterans who worked on navy shipbuilding yards where it is known that the material was used. MoD civilians will be awarded the compensation but not military personnel.
Many people have come out in support of the military personnel and have criticised the loophole that currently exists. Jim Murphy, the Shadow Defence Minister, said “Those who give so much for our country should always be looked after.” Labour MP Thomas Docherty said that “MoD bureaucracy is failing to close this unacceptable loophole.” He called the situation an outrage and said that the sufferers and their families are not being given the support that they deserve.
Mesothelioma is a disease that is caused solely through exposure to asbestos fibres and there is no cure. Sufferers will typically endure extremely painful symptoms and the disease will ultimately lead to death. It is, in fact, one of several conditions that are directly linked to a substance which was frequently and regularly used in construction of buildings and, in this case, in the construction of ships. These diseases can take 40 years to fully develop which means that many that were exposed before the 1987 cut off many not yet have developed the tell-tale symptoms.
Asbestos was used by the Royal Navy in the building of its ships. Specifically, it was used to increase the strength of the ships while also offering fire retardant properties. The material was used until the 1980s when its poisonous qualities were identified and its use was stopped. However, many people were still exposed prior to this date.
The inequality is extremely harsh. Those that were exposed to asbestos after 1987 are entitled to compensation and so too are civilians that worked on the ships before 1987. However, former military personnel that were exposed prior to 1987 are not entitled to receive the same compensation. It is believed that the government will back a reform that is being led by a group of Tory MPs that will close the existing loophole and ensure that all of those affected are entitled to the same compensation.
The Shadow Justice Minister Andy Slaughter has given a huge hint that his party, Labour, would some aspects of the Jackson reforms if they were to regain power at the next general election. He called the decision to make so many changes at once “foolhardy” and the former barrister also said that it was too soon to judge the success, or otherwise, of the civil rights reforms. Once pressed, Slaughter said that his party would unwind some of the changes if they were found to be failing.
On the 1st April there were sweeping changes to the personal injury industry and the way in which consumers are able to make claims and pay for the resulting court cases. In particular, the changes mean that solicitor fees can no longer be claimed from the losing party. Instead, solicitors will claim the money they are owed for their services from the successful party. A 10% increase in claim values was implemented in a bid to cover these costs.
No win no fee cases are commonplace and they enable anybody to be able to pursue a case, even if they do not have the money to cover the cost of legal services. Solicitors are unlikely to take on a case they won’t win because they won’t receive any money and even those with low incomes are able to enjoy access to legal representation to pursue a variety of different cases. It was this area of law that was hit hardest by changes because the winning solicitor would normally reclaim costs from the losing party.
Under the Jackson reforms, claim values were increased by 10% but solicitor costs would be taken out of these fees instead of being recouped from the losing side. Typically, a claimant and their solicitor will now agree what is known as a Damages Based Agreement. This is a percentage of the damages won up to a maximum of 25% that the solicitor will receive from the claimant’s compensation package. This would replace the money that would previously have been collected from the other solicitors.
The reforms have come under fire from many parties, claiming that it meant claimants would be less inclined to pursue action and that where the Damages Based Agreement was higher than 10% it meant that the claimant would receive less compensation than under the old system. However, Andy Slaughter was more critical of the extent and number of changes that were being introduced in a single run rather than the actual details of the changes.
During the Westminster Legal Policy Forum, Mr Slaughter said that it was too early to judge the effectiveness of the changes. He also said that the legal profession was having to deal with an unprecedented avalanche of changes and that he didn’t know how the legal profession, let alone the public could cope with so many reforms. He said that the criticism and changes were a clear indication of why it is important not to hear opinions that are too heavily slanted to one side of the argument, and that consultation should have included members of the Legal Industry.
A group of MPs have been told by Thatcham Research that it is highly unlikely that a person would suffer from whiplash in an impact with a speed below 6mph. They also heard that up to 60% of all whiplash claims are fraudulent and suggested that the UK adopt a system similar to the one which is in use in Germany that dictates accidents at speeds up to 6mph do not result in whiplash cases. The information was heard by the Transport Committee as they look at the Government’s proposals to reduce whiplash claims.
The Ministry of Justice opened a consultation on whiplash in December 2012. A report that they released declared that the UK was the whiplash capital of the world and stated that while motor accidents had dropped by 20% the number of whiplash claims had risen by 60% between the years 2006 and 2012. The report also claimed that 90% of relevant personal injury claims were for whiplash and that insurance companies claim around £90 per year is added to every motor insurance policy as a result.
The reason for the consultation was to bring down the cost of motor insurance which has risen markedly. The press widely reported on the fact that premiums had risen dramatically and that many new and inexperienced drivers simply could not afford to take out insurance policies. However, any changes could have a significant impact on victims and on the personal injury industry as a whole as well. Solicitors, as well as motor insurers, and members of the medical professional were invited to consult.
The Association of British Insurers had only stated that around 7% of incidents were exaggerated or were fraudulent but Andrew Miller, head of research at Thatcham Research, puts the figure considerably higher. According to his research, the figure is anywhere between 10% and 60% although critics of the findings point to the considerable range in figures and state that this 10% to 60% variation brings the validity of the numbers into question.
Also discussed was the likelihood of suffering injury in low speed accidents. Mr Miller and a Dr Donal McNally stated that incidents of whiplash in accidents at speeds of 6mph or lower were highly unlikely and advised that we take on a system similar to that in Germany. In this system, it is possible to question the validity of any claims that are made in cases related to accidents that occurred at speeds of 10kmh or less.
However Dr McNally pointed to findings from Sweden whereby 60,000 black boxes were fitted to vehicles and results from accidents were studied. According to the findings of this study, around 40% of more serious injuries would have fallen into this category and would have been ignored because of the comparatively low speed of the accident. There are many factors that will determine whether injury occurs and while it is more likely that serious injury is sustained at higher speeds, this does not necessarily mean that lower speeds will not also result in injuries.
About The Author
Mike Topper is the litigation manager at Stockslegal.
If you would like any further information about this article please contact Mike by clicking here.