Crackdown on Fake Injury Claims

The Ministry of Justice have announced measures to reduce the amount paid out by insurance companies for fraudulent cases. Courts will be given more powers to throw out cases where claimants have been dishonest.

Other changes include putting a stop to compensation culture by banning firms offering free incentives such as iPads and upfront cash payments. A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman says they intend to ban all inducements such as “welcome payments, free gifts, cash advances and discounted services.”

The reforms are intended to reduce car insurance premiums for honest drivers which are forced to pay higher premiums as a result of fraudulent payouts pushing up costs.

Association of British Insurers director general Otto Thoresen said: “These changes are a very positive development for the vast majority of honest insurance customers who end up paying for the fraud of the minority.”

Currently the courts can pay compensation to individuals even if it is found their injuries have been exaggerated. Under the new rules the courts would be required to block all compensation payouts unless it is determined a serious injustice has taken place.

Justice secretary Chris Grayling says the changes will lead to smaller premiums for drivers and that the changers will be put into legislation before the end of the current parliament in May 2015.

Improved medical examinations will also be introduced to reduce the number of bogus claims. People suffering from whiplash will be required to undergo an examination by an independent professional working for a fixed fee.

The changes are also intended to reduce the compensation culture in workplaces where workers file for compensation for “slips and trips”. Workers won’t be able to receive compensation without evidence of injuries sustained to them.

According to the Association of British Insurers, the number of dishonest insurance claims reach 59,000 in 2013, costing the industry £811 million. In spite of the rise in fraudulent claims, insurance premiums have fell by £100 in the last year which shows how far measures have already gone to tackle insurance fraud.

The Ministry of Justice has been assured that the savings to insurance companies will be passed onto consumers.

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Company Director Jailed for Causing Death After Selling Asbestos Roofing

Company director Robert Marsh has been sentenced to 12 months in jail after he supplied secondhand roofing containing asbestos which lead to the death of Tony Podmore. Mr Podmore had been hired to construct a roof using the materials. As a result of the poor quality panels, Mr Podmore fell through the roof landing on concrete six meters below. He later died in hospital because of his injuries.

The pre-used roofing sheets were sold to a farming partnership for £4000. The farming partnership were led to believe they were receiving a quality product however the roofing hadn’t cost Mr Podmore anything apart from the £250 delivery expense.

The court were told how Mr Podmore fell through the fragile asbestos concrete sheets while working on the roof. The court also heard how Mr Marsh tried to persuade witnesses to help hide the sheets and that they were all going to “take the fall for this”.

Before the court hearing it was revealed how the family of Mr Podmore was told he fell of the side of the roof rather than through the sheets and how Mr Marsh tried to persuade them not to report to incident to the Health & Safety Executive.

At the trial Mr Marsh pleaded guilty to a contravention of The Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals Regulations 2008 and one breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was ruled that the asbestos panels were a significant contributing factor that led to the death of Mr Podmore.

Along with the 12 month sentence, Mr Marsh has been banned from being a director for 6 years and and ordered to pay £10,000 in costs.

Judge Michael Cullum said the actions of Mr Marsh was “wholly reprehensible” and that he acted selfishly to maximise profits by compromising health and safety. After the sentencing HSE inspector Luke Messenger said the health risks of asbestos filled panels were widely known and have been banned for many years.

“Mr Marsh demonstrated a complete disregard for the law for his financial gain. In this case, the weak second-hand panels he supplied were a significant contributing factor to the death of Mr Podmore.” Mr Cullum said.

Over 3000 people a year die in the UK due to asbestos related causes.

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Contaminated Drip Causes Blood Poisoning for 21 Babies

Twenty one babies have been infected due to a contaminated drip, killing one and leaving at least one more fighting for its life. The babies were being treated in ten hospitals around England when they became infected.

The babies had been given a fluid called parenteral nutrition which intravenously gives children nutrients when they aren’t able to eat on their own. The infections resulted in cases of septicaemia and have been “strongly linked” to an intravenous fluid.

The situation developed rapidly over the weekend with one baby after another becoming infected, triggering a frantic search for the cause of the life threatening infection. It wasn’t until wednesday that it was discovered the cause was a contaminated batch of liquid feed.

The liquid feed was being used in 22 hospitals across the country and has since been recalled. The short shelf life of the product means any unrecalled feed would have been discarded already.

As a result of the contamination, Yousef Al-Kharboush died on the 31st of May at St Thomas’ Hospital in London. Yousef and his twin brother had been put on life support after being born eight weeks premature. Yousef later fell seriously ill after being infected with the bacterium bacillus cereus, he died two days later.

Yusuf’s father, Raaid Hassan Sakkijha, told of the agony of seeing his son deteriorate. He hopes inquiries into his son’s death can help save other children from suffering the same fate.

The manufacturer of the product, ITH Pharma, says there is no need for any more families to be concerned as the contaminated batch has been withdrawn. ITH Pharma said there will be no further batches distributed until an investigation is carried out.

Karen Hamling, the managing director of London-based firm ITH Pharma, said: “We are co-operating with all of our regulatory bodies because we want to ensure something like this never happens again.”

ITH Pharma is inspected every 3 to 5 years and was last inspected April 2012. The company says all staff go through a “rigorous and continuous” training programme which is led by an in house team.

Public health chief Paul Cosford has said a full investigation is underway to determine what went wrong, the investigation will be carried out by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority.

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28 Children in Hospital After Buses Collide

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.

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Heinz ordered to pay £60,000 After Worker Loses Hand

Heinz has been ordered to pay £50,000 worth of fines and costs of £9,961 after an employee lost his hand at the factory in Westwick. The engineer, Alec Brackenbury, is also suing the company for compensation in a separate civil case.

The accident occurred when Mr Brackenbury reached inside a pump that was part of a potato peeling machine he had been working on. He had switched off the potato peeler and believed the pump which cleared away excess peelings was on the same circuit.

The pump began running while his right hand was in the machine and his hand was severed entirely. Surgeons operated eight times on Mr Brackenbury’s arm. The injury has left him being unable to drive, work or live normally.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated the accident and found that the pump was a separate device to the peeler and that Mr Brackenbury had no way of knowing that it would suddenly begin working.

The HSE said the accident was brought about because there was no guard on the peeler which would have prevented Mr Brackenbury being able to put his hand in the machine.

Heinz pleaded guilty to violating Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

It was determined by HSE inspector Tony Brookes that the accident could have been entirely avoidable if the correct safety measures were in place. Mr Brookes said Heinz’s assessment of the risks was completely inadequate and that there was a “lack of effective measures to stop access to dangerous parts of equipment.”

Solicitor, Ian Comer, has told how the loss of Mr Brackenbury’s hand has been catastrophic and that his career as a mechanical and electrical engineer was over as both jobs required the use of two hands.

Mr Brackenbury is pursuing a civil claim against Heinz and said: “I hope now the HSE prosecution is out of the way the defendant’s insurers will now formally accept responsibility for my claim so that I can start putting my life back together.”

In another blow to Mr Brackenbury, his caravan home was recently destroyed in a storm leaving him without a permanent residence.

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Seven Year Old Dies Due to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Police are investigating a firm which hired out a pump to the Gbangbola family used to pump water out of their home in February due to flooding caused by heavy rain. It was found that carbon monoxide poisoning caused by the pump led to the death of seven year old, Zane Gbangbola, and paralysed his father from the waist down.

Zane Gbangbola and his parents become ill in February when using a petrol-driven pump to remove water from their home in Chertsey, Surrey. They were admitted to hospital on the 6th of February after calling an ambulance.

Zane and his father, Kye, suffered cardiac arrests which resulted in Zanes death and Mr Gbangbola being paralysed from the waist down. An autopsy on Zane was inconclusive which led to further tests being undertaken by a pathologist. It was determined the cause of death was due to carbon monoxide intoxication.

A petrol pump was taken from the house to be examined and an investigation has been launched by Surrey Police to determine if there is any liability or criminal offence in respect to the company who hired out the equipment.

There are still a number of unanswered questions in regards to what toxins were in the house on the night of Zanes death. His family are still waiting for the full post-mortem report which will be provided to the coroner when a full inquest into Zanes death is carried out.

Leigh Day, who is representing the Gbangbola family, said: ‘We await further information provided by other agencies following their investigations, as many questions still remain unanswered into what toxins were present within the property on the night of Zane’s death.”

Residence in the area have blamed the the council and Environment Agency for not making residence more aware of the dangers of poisoning when using petrol-driven pumps to remove water from properties.

A petition has received 1800 signatures and is targeting 100,000 in order for a debate to be open in parliament regarding the death of Zane Gbangbola.

The tragedy occurred in a period where much of Britain was devastated by floods. The met office described the storm as the worst in 248 years, with 80 mph gales affecting the Surrey area.

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Woman Hospitalised After E-Cigarette Explodes

A woman from Pembrokeshire has suffered serious burns after her electronic cigarette exploded while she slept. The electronic device was being charged in a USB socket only intended for iPhones and iPads.

Lucy May, 22, was woken up by the sound of the blaze in her room and says she would have died if she hadn’t woken up sooner. Miss May suffered burns after the bed she was in caught fire.

Office manager Ms May said: “I had my e-cigarette on charge and went to sleep – next thing I knew I woke up to a fire.”

The device had ‘exploded like a bullet’ and caused hundred of pounds damage to her duvet, bag and clothing as well as causing extensive damage to the walls and carpet in her bedroom. She was taken to Morriston Hospital and treated for third degree burns to her legs, hands and the bottom of her abdomen.

Lucy had purchased the e-cigarette from a market for £35 to help her quit smoking. After a weekend away she put the eGo e-cigarette on charge but wasn’t aware the USB charger was too powerful for the device.

Her family are urging anyone who owns an e-cigarette to read the instruction before charging. them

Earlier this year a blaze occurred in East London which was believed to have started when an e-cigarette exploded while charging. Fire chiefs said it was likely the e-cigarette exploded due to overheating. The blaze was tackled by 20 firefighters and led to one lady being admitted to hospital for burns.

In April this year, a pensioner at Wythenshawe Hospital was engulfed in flames when she used an e-cigarette while on oxygen in her hospital bed, the fire caused serious burns to the 65 year old.

Many believe e-cigarettes are a safer option than normal cigarettes, which they often are however “The danger is that people sometimes use incorrect chargers which runs the risk of overcharging, which can potentially have explosive results.” said fire investigator Charlie Pugsley

When purchasing an e-cigarette it is important that it is purchased from a reputable source and that they aren’t charged longer than the recommended period.

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