Figures obtained by the Employment Law Advisory Service show a worrying trend of increasing personal injury cases involving children at school. Over the period of five years, £3.3m has been paid out, although these figures only include three major cities, so the real cost is likely to be much higher. 1,980 personal injury claims were submitted against primary and secondary schools in Birmingham, Manchester, and London during that period, with approximately a quarter proving successful.
Personal injury is the legal term that is associated with any injury to the body that has been caused by the negligence of another. Such cases have become increasingly common in adults, with gangs of fraudulent criminals even acting together in order to try and make substantial claims. Injuries not only include physical injuries, but may also include injuries to the mind or emotions, and the size of compensation packages is typically determined by the severity and effects of the injuries themselves.
The Metropolitan areas of London, Manchester, and Birmingham have nearly 15 million residents, which is about a quarter of all the people living in the UK. London had the largest bill, with claims totalling £1.6m across its 33 boroughs, but Manchester had £1.5m of claims in just 10 boroughs and Birmingham had to pay out a total of £190,000.
In terms of the injuries that led to claims, a £56,000 payment was made to one child who had collided with another on an inflatable slide. £13,500 was paid to one child who had slipped on a wet floor. In total, across the three cities, nearly 2,000 claims were made in the five year period and almost a quarter of them were successful and led to children being awarded payment.
Critics say that it is fostering a culture where children are no longer able to take the risks associated with growing up. However, if a child does suffer injury and requires care and medical treatment then they have the right to seek compensation. Care costs, medical costs, and a parents’ loss of earnings can soon add up, and it is these costs that compensation aims to cover.
Some of the victims of TV entertainer Stuart Hall are seeking compensation either from the man himself or from broadcasting company the BBC. If any of the claims are successful then it is plausible that there could be hundreds of cases from victims of Jimmy Saville and other celebrities currently under investigation by the police. Although there is usually a time limit to claiming in such cases, many of the victims have been advised to seek compensation especially as Hall has only just been sentenced recently.
Stuart Hall initially received a sentence of 15 months but the conviction was doubled to a 30 month sentence following an appeal of the conviction. Hall will now serve a 30 month sentence as well as being stripped of is OBE. However, while the sentence punishes Hall for his crimes, it does not help the victims, many of whom may still be affected today.
With most criminal injury compensation cases, the amount of compensation that is to be paid is determined by a number of factors including the type and severity of injury sustained. Guidelines of injury types and the tariffs paid for these injuries are published, but the effects of sexual and physical abuse are psychological as well as physical and this makes the compensation claim a complex one. Redress is still available but it will usually require the involvement of an experienced criminal injury solicitor to ensure the best result.
There is typically a two year statute for making a claim from CICA but there is special dispensation made for victims of sexual abuse. The guidelines and the board appreciate that many victims do not come forward straight away and that this is a recognised symptom of the ill effects of abuse. Therefore, even if a person has been abused many years ago, they may still have a right to claim compensation.
Criminal injury compensation pays a fixed amount for the type and severity of injury and also adds elements for special payments. These special payments can include anything from loss of earnings to the need for long-term or ongoing care and are designed to ensure that the victim is not left out of pocket as a result of the attack they were a victim of.
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.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has updated its Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) while also altering the way in which companies must undergo first aid training within its ranks. The HSE claims that the changes have been made in order to make the first aid and health and safety regulations easier for businesses to follow. The new rules offer a more common sense approach to the topic of health and safety.
Whereas it was once necessary to have first aid training approved by HSE, companies are now free to look around and choose the training that they provide their staff. All businesses, regardless of size, stature, or industry are affected by these changes and there are still certain conditions that must be met for training to be considered suitable and legal but these are considerably easier than they were.
RIDDOR, which outlines the necessary reporting process that companies undergo when an accident occurs, has also been changed. The list of major injuries has been replaced by a shorter and less complex list of specified injuries. With fewer injuries to have to choose from this should make the process a simpler and more streamlined one and it means that businesses will not have to take as long preparing incident and accident reports.
Similarly, the previous list of 47 industrial disease types has also been replaced with a shorter list. There are now 8 categories of industrial disease or work related illness that need to be reported. The final change is that there are fewer types of dangerous occurrence that require reporting and all of these changes should enable businesses to be able to complete accident reports quicker while ensuring that they still provide the relevant level of information and data.
It is important that businesses and organisations do report accidents, injuries, and illnesses when required. If the employee takes action then the report can be used during the subsequent case and the HSE may choose to investigate itself if it believes that there is a case to do so. If accidents have not been reported then this can lead to action being taken against the company.
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 Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) has strict guidelines that must be followed when they decide whether to award compensation to victims of crime in the UK. To help ensure that they receive the fairest and most reasonable offer of compensation, there are certain mistakes that criminal injury claimants should avoid making. CICA is meant as a last resort for victims who are unable to track down the culprit of the crime, or for those victims where the culprit is unable to meet compensation figures.
The crime should always be reported to the police, no matter how seemingly innocuous or minor the offence is. CICA is highly unlikely to award compensation if the victim of a crime did not report that crime to the police. Even if the claimant did not suffer any injury immediately after the incident, if they need to claim in the future then this is still an essential step.
As well as reporting the crime to police, it is important that claimants cooperate with the police during their enquiry. CICA will take a dim view of those claimants that were unwilling to take part in a criminal line-up or provide answers to police questions.
CICA will not make payment to people that were involved in any criminal act themselves, when the alleged offence took place. This means that if a person was directly involved in the crime committed, for example by starting an altercation that led to them being assaulted, or were involved in another criminal act at the time of the incident then they will not receive compensation. Failing to admit this at the time of the investigation or during the case can have serious and unwanted consequences.
There are strict deadlines and time limits associated with CICA claims. Failing to apply within the two year time limit means that a claimant will not usually be able to claim. If the victim of a crime is currently in the process of a civil claim action and the two year deadline is about to be reached, they can submit a claim to CICA in order to meet the required deadline.
The Health and Safety Executive keep detailed statistics regarding the types of injury that are reported every year. According to these figures, handling injuries are the most commonly reported type of injury and while these can take many forms, they do not tend to be fatal injuries. More than a million working days are lost every year to employees suffering the ill effects of handling injuries. It is, therefore, in the interest of employers as well as employees to ensure proper training and the use of the most appropriate types of equipment.
Handling injuries vary in their severity and even the injury type sustained. They can range from sprains and strains to breaks and fractures. Trapped fingers as well as cuts and lacerations are also common types of injury that are sustained while handling and moving items. Virtually all industries suffer some degree of handling injuries.
According to the most recent confirmed figures from the HSE, 30,663 handling injuries reported during 2011/2012. During this period there were no fatal injuries of this type but 28,328 injuries led to absences of three days or over while 2,335 injuries were considered major. The average number of days lost per handling injury was 8.8 days and this totals 1.2m days lost to this type of injury through the 12 month period.
Some handling injuries can be prevented through proper training. Lifting and handling courses are a legal requirement in certain types of job or career. Where heavy loads are lifted, it is important that employees are taught to lift properly and in such a way that they have the least chance of injuring themselves. However, handling injuries can be seemingly mundane and can be caused lifting and handling small and lightweight objects.
The water and waste injury had the highest incident rate per employee. There were 451 reported handling injuries for every 100,000 employees but it was in health and social care where there was the largest total number of reported handling injury incidents. 5,800 injuries of this type were reported within this sector, although this is equivalent to just 162 reported incidents per 100,000 employees.
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