Road Traffic Accidents
A collision between two school buses has led to 28 children being admitted to hospital, with one child in a severe condition. The collision occurred early morning in Stanley as the children were being taken to St Bede’s Catholic School and Tanfield School.
The buses were carrying 50 children and two adults when the collision occurred on the A693 at 8.20am.
The accident took place when one of the buses swerved across the road into the path of the other bus. A witness on the scene said they saw the bus going down hill on the wrong side of the road and then heard a loud crash.
One child and a bus driver both had to be airlifted to hospital while the majority of children suffered opened wounds and broken bones.The worst injury was suffered by a young boy who received severe damage to his face.
The children were helped by members of the public until emergency workers got to the scene. One of the first people on the scene was Michael Davison who boarded both buses, fighting through smoke to reach the bleeding and screaming children.
Mr Davison said: “I ran over to the buses. There was smoke pouring from the engines, coming from batteries of the vehicles and it was choking everyone. I was really frightened they were going to catch fire and I knew I had to get as many people off as I could.”
There were fears that a fire would soon erupt so getting the children off the buses was a priority of the first people to arrive.
Thirteen ambulances were sent to the scene at 8:22am as well as a specialist unit, the Hazardous Area Response Team. The fire brigade were next to arrive at the scene. The injured students were taken to RVI, the University Hospital of North Durham and the Queen Elizabeth in Gateshead.
One local mother has told reporters: “The firefighters and emergency services deserve a medal for the way they have all come together. It is carnage but it is quite organised carnage.”
Durham Police chief inspector Elaine Taylor said while the accident was serious, the outcome could have been much worse. Police are still investigating the exact causes of the bus crash and interviewing witnesses.
The government has unveiled plans for tougher punishments for banned drivers, including 10 years’ imprisonment for those who are responsible for a fatal accident while driving when disqualified. This is a rise from the current maximum two-year term.
Another law is to be introduced by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to penalise motorists who’ve been banned from driving with four years behind bars if they become responsible for causing serious injury.
Both new penalties form part of broader proposals to make sure that motorists who pose a danger to the lives of others on the road face harsher punishments and have to spend more time in prison.
The move follows government consultation with victims’ families, with the changes set to be introduced in 2015.
Among the other target for the reforms are those who get behind the wheel without proper insurance, or a proper driving license.
Mr Grayling said: “We wanted to send out a very clear message that any driver who decides to drive when they have been banned and so shouldn’t be on the road will face far tougher penalties.”
Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan, while broadly supporting the coalition’s plans, said he was concerned that there would not be sufficient room in the UK’s jails to cope with all the offenders adequately.
The proposed changes serve as a useful reminder of the option you have to pursue a claim for personal injury compensation if you are involved in a road traffic accident through no fault of your own.
That could include collisions in which a banned or uninsured motorist was responsible, as well as those involving someone who was simply behaving negligently on the road.
In most cases, not only do you need to be able to prove you were not to blame, but the incident needs to have taken place within the last three years.
The amount of personal injury compensation awarded can vary greatly, and will depend on a number of variable factors. But you can maximise your chances by seeking the support of a reputable firm of personal injury solicitors to help you pursue your claim.
The leader of a crash for cash insurance scam ring has been jailed for four and a half years. Mohammed Omar Gulzar was responsible for a series of deliberate crashes, caused with the intention of faking personal injury claims, including one that involved a 12 tonne bus carrying 40 passengers. Three other men were jailed and five received suspended sentences after pleading guilty to the charges. The group are believed to have deliberately caused 30 crashes, and although only £40,000 was paid out, the total could have been as high as £500,000 if all claims had been successful.
Crash for cash schemes have been well documented in the media recently. In these schemes, perpetrators deliberately cause crashes that are deemed to be the fault of the other driver. The criminals then make claims against their car insurance policies and submit personal injury claims, often for phantom passengers that were not in the car, and for damage that was already done to the vehicle.
There are a number of methods that crash for cash criminals use in order to orchestrate crashes. Flash for cash accidents are perhaps the simplest, with a driver flashing somebody out at a junction before driving into them and claiming that the accident was the other driver’s fault.
Mohammed Omar Gulzar’s group were investigated following what seemed like a minor crash with a service bus in Yorkshire. Passengers on the bus were surprised at the reaction of the car passengers, some claiming that one man even threw himself against the windscreen. Police investigated, and the group appeared in court. Gulzar was found guilty and sentenced to serve four and a half years in prison, while a further eight men were also convicted of similar crimes; three were given prison sentences and five were provided suspended sentences.
Car accidents can be serious and can have serious consequences for those involved. Compensation exists so that anybody that is injured or suffers as a result of such a crash can receive the medical attention they require and be compensation for any loss of earnings that they may face following time off work.
A cyclist in Cardiff has questioned South Wales police over the alarmingly low number of hit and run drivers that have been apprehended. Many such incidents are not recorded as crimes and this makes it impossible for the victim to be able to submit a criminal injury claim later. Cyclist, John Harris, has found that only 1 driver in 35 incidents between 1st April and 31st December 2012 was apprehended and this was as a result of CCTV footage.
A cyclist being knocked off their bike can lead to serious and long term injuries. It is important that victims of this type of incident report the crime to police as soon as possible. If the crime is not reported in the first place, then CICA will not be able to agree compensation with the victim and this is essential if the culprit is never apprehended.
This type of crime can be reported to the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, or MIB, but they will rarely take action if no driver can be identified. This means that victims must turn to the CICA as a means of chasing compensation. However, CICA will not take action if the incident is not reported as a crime. According to Mr Harris, Cardiff police rarely report the incidents as crimes because they do not follow up on them or attempt to make arrests.
A representative for South Wales Police said that incidents of this nature need to be considered a malicious act or one that constitutes dangerous driving in order for it to be recorded as a crime. In instances where this cannot be proven or where the police believe that it is not true, they will be recorded simply as road traffic incidents.
The CICA offers victims of crime the opportunity to seek and claim compensation even when they are unable to identify, or the police are unable to apprehend the criminal that committed the crime. Claimants and their claims need to meet certain criteria to be considered suitable and this means that incidents must be reported to police and recorded as a crime by the police.
A woman who was beaten unconscious by another woman while on a night out was offered £150 compensation and encouraged to take it so that police did not have to issue a caution. Police have defended the caution, although did not comment on the compensation offer, while the Centre of Crime Prevention claim that police do not have enough confidence that criminals will receive justice if they go to courts so rely heavily on the use of cautions.
Hayley Clayton was enjoying her first night out since the birth of her daughter and was out with her husband and work friends when she was attacked by another woman. The woman ran up, hit Mrs Clayton in the side of the head, and then ran away with her male companion. Friends called an Ambulance while Mr Clayton attempted to chase after the woman, to no avail.
Mrs Clayton was knocked unconscious during the attack and says that the next thing she remembers was waking up in Peterborough hospital. She required ten stitches to treat the injury to her head and was forced to take a week off from her job. Mrs Clayton works as a team leader in a flower factory. Her husband John works as a site co-ordinator at the same company location. They were out with work colleagues on the night of the attack.
Following the attack, the police contacted Mrs Clayton to tell her that they had apprehended the attacker. They asked her to accept a compensation payment of £100, stating that cautioning the attacker would be a waste of taxpayers’ money. Following a refusal to take the token amount, the police informed her of an increased offer of £150. Mrs Clayton declined this second offer saying that they wanted the woman to be prosecuted.
The South Wales Police have said that they use cautions as a means of deterring first time offenders and to punish criminals without having to go to court. A Ministry of Justice spokesperson has said that there will be a review into the use of all out of court disposals which would include the use of caution.
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.
Lobbyists and groups that want speed cameras removed will be disheartened to hear that a recent study of 551 fixed speed cameras has shown that, in areas where cameras are used, there is 27% less chance of an accident occurring. The study shows that hundreds of lives are saved every year while hundreds of personal injuries are also avoided through the installation of the cameras. However, while the overall figures were good, 21 of the sites showed an increase in injuries highlighting the necessity for accurate and considered placement.
When the coalition government came into power, speeding cameras were one of the areas where they introduced big cuts. They said, at the time of the cuts that local councils were over reliant on the use of the devices and that alternative methods should also be sought to help improve road safety. Surveys and studies, however, show that local councils continue to use their cameras and have not yet had them removed or decommissioned.
A number of campaign groups and lobby groups have been set up in the past to try and bring down cameras, or limit their use. Opponents of the yellow fixed cameras have questioned their value in reducing accident numbers as well as their actual financial worth. Despite this opposition, though, the number of cameras has increased in recent years although some counties suffer more than others. It is believed that there are more than 6,000 speed cameras, including mobile cameras, in the UK.
Speed is considered a major contributing factor in the number of deaths and serious injuries that result from road traffic accidents. Although there are figures available that show this is only the case in around 6% of serious injuries, speed is certainly a contributing factor in the number of accidents and a study undertaken by RAF Group would indicate that speed cameras have the desired effect. Not only do they slow traffic down but they minimise and reduce the number of accidents, injuries, and deaths on the roads where they are placed.
Road traffic accidents are the single biggest cause of personal injury claims and the insurance industry has claimed that these cases add billions to the total amount that drivers pay every year in their insurance premium costs. The UK has been dubbed the whiplash capital of the world because of the increasingly large number of personal injury claims that are made. The government introduced changes to the industry in April 2013 but anybody that has suffered injuries in a car accident that was not their fault is still encouraged to seek compensation and litigation for the damages they endure.
Busier roads, more powerful cars, and a greater array of distractions for drivers behind the wheel are some of the reasons that car accident numbers are on the increase. Speed is considered to be a major factor that increases the number of accidents and that increases the likelihood of those involved in accidents being seriously injured or worse. This latest study shows that while there are isolated incidents where the introduction of cameras has seen an increase in injuries, they do have a positive, overall effect.
The Road Safety Analysis (RSA) has revealed details of a study that shows rural drivers are more likely to be involved in a road traffic accident than their urban counterparts. The study looked at figures relating to road accidents between 2007 and 2011 and the results show that young rural drivers are, in fact, more than 40% more likely to be involved in an accident than young urban drivers. The study also revealed a number of other figures and statistics related to accidents on the road.
Road traffic accidents can be devastating and any driver that has been involved in such an accident, whether it was their fault or another drivers, will have experienced the horror and shock. They may also have endured painful and lasting injuries – the speed involved in car accidents means that greater force and pressure are put on the human body and this leads to a greater likelihood of serious injuries and even death. Road traffic accidents are the single biggest cause of personal injuries and the resulting PI claims increase in this country has seen the UK described as being the whiplash capital of the world.
The study, which was carried out by the Road Safety Analysis, was funded by Michelin and Rees Jeffreys Road Fund. Figures from accidents that took place between 2007 and 2011 were considered and the RSA looked for trends that developed, paying particular attention to the differences between urban and rural drivers. Overall, young rural drivers were 44% more likely to be involved in a road accident than urban drivers.
The difference was greatest on 60mph roads where rural drivers were 66% more likely to crash than urban drivers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, young rural adults were 89% more likely to hold a full driving licence when compared to those that lived in cities and towns. Rural drivers are also most likely to be involved in a collision while on rural roads with 58% more rural than urban drivers crashing while driving on rural roads.
When it comes to reasons for accidents, rural drivers are 16% more likely to provide a positive breath test while 52% more will be involved in an accident while on a bend. Rural drivers, who have to drive on poorly lit and darkened streets with very little ambient and surrounding lighting, were 63% more likely to be involved in an accident while driving in the dark when compared to urban drivers, who enjoy better lit streets and ambient lighting from surrounding lights and buildings.
Road traffic accidents are a common form of personal injury and anybody that has suffered in a crash that was not their fault may have a case to claim. The figures show that young drivers should pay particular care especially when they are driving in what might be considered anything other than optimal results. Drivers should avoid drinking, take care around bends, and ensure that they pay particular attention when attempting to drive on darkened roads at night.
Recent consultation undertaken by the government last year will be taken into consideration by the government, along with an assessment of the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 before a decision on whiplash claims is made. Consultation was closed at the beginning of March which the government claim will help to reduce the cost of motor insurance premiums for consumers but critics claim will make it more difficult for those injured in accidents to be able to claim the compensation that they are rightfully owed.
The government opened consultation in December of last year on Reducing the Number and Costs of Whiplash Claims. The consultation paper stated the UK had become the whiplash capital of the world although some of the figures contained within the report have been contested. Respondents, including lawyers, solicitors, insurers, and medical professionals, were asked to respond by the beginning of March with their opinion and the government were set to make a decision having heard all of the necessary evidence.
The government proposed either an accreditation scheme or an independent medical panel to determine whether or not the cases merited compensation. One of the biggest problems with whiplash claims is that it can be very difficult to assess whether or not a patient has whiplash. There are no hard and fast tests that can be made in order to determine the efficacy and value of a claim and this was something that the government wanted to address.
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 has only just come into force and, in a statement from Louise Ellman MP, the government wishes to wait to determine the impact of these changes before deciding how best to move forward with changes to whiplash claims. Critics worry that people that have suffered injury will not be able to gain the same level of access to legal services and compensation if the government’s changes do go through.
In April, it was widely reported that despite the government’s sound-bites regarding the apparent increasing problem with whiplash claims, they had actually dropped to the lowest figure since 2008/2009. A Freedom of Information request revealed that there had been 488,281 claims made in 2012/2013 compared to the 547,405 in 2011/2012. This figure represents the lowest it has been since 2008/2009 and means that there were around 60,000 fewer whiplash compensation claims made in the past twelve months compared to the twelve months before.
The information had been obtained by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and was presented to the House of Commons in response to the request for consultation. The government has now declared that they will wait to hear all oral evidence and to see how recent changes to the Personal Injury industry affects claimants before deciding whether or not to implement their proposed changes. A number of groups and organisations are being called to give their information and evidence to the select committee and a decision will be made.
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