Archive for August, 2013

Janitor Settles Claim for Workplace Slip on Ice

Posted on: August 28th, 2013

A janitor has settled his claim for a workplace slip on ice – due to which he lost his job – after a hearing at Edinburgh´s Court of Sessions.

The janitor in question – sixty-one year old Stephen McKeown from Port Glasgow in Inverclyde – suffered his injury in November 2010 after he had been asked to cover the absence of the permanent janitor from St Francis´ Primary School, rather than work at his regular location at St Stephen´s High School in Port Glasgow.

Arriving at St Francis´ Primary School at 7.00am, Stephen began salting the paths and the playgrounds by hand as he had done on icy days for the past eighteen years he had worked as a janitor. As school started at 9.00am, Stephen moved onto the areas of lower priority but, during the first break between lessons, he was told by two pupils that a condom had been discarded on one of the classroom fire escapes.

As Stephen climbed the fire escape to retrieve the condom, he slipped and fell on ice which had not yet defrosted, and injured his leg and back as he fell against a wall. Unable to continue his job as a janitor due to his injuries, Stephen´s work contract was terminated by Inverclyde Council in November 2011 – following which, Stephen made a claim for a workplace slip on ice against his former employers.

Inverclyde Council denied their liability for Stephen´s injuries and claimed that they were not in breach of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 as Stephen had alleged because they had a system in place for treating the school grounds when they were icy which, the council argued, Stephen had not followed.

Stephen pursued his claim for a workplace slip on ice and, last week at the Court of Session Outer House, Lord Burns found that Inverclyde Council´s safe system of work existed only on paper, and had never been put into practice.

Criticising Inverclyde Council for failing to train Stephen in the safest system of work or advising him of the availability of work equipment that could have prevented his workplace accident from occurring, Lord Burns awarded Stephen £30,000 in settlement of his claim for a workplace slip on ice.

Claims for Childrens Injuries at School Cost Councils in Wales £800,000

Posted on: August 23rd, 2013

A news report on the BBC has revealed that claims for childrens injuries at school cost councils in Wales more than £800,000 between 2008 and 2013.

According to the report – compiled under a Freedom of Information request – 312 claims for childrens injuries at school were made in the five-year period; mostly following minor accidents such as slips and trips, or injuries caused by defective school equipment, but some related to serious head injuries and resulted in compensation settlements in excess of £10,000.

The highest number of claims for childrens injuries at school was made in Cardiff, where the local education authority had seventy-four successful claims made against them, but the highest individual value claims were settled in Newport (£248,131 over 44 claims) and in Rhondda Cynon Taf, where the average value of successful claims for childrens injuries at school was £18,993.

Speaking about the high volume of claims, a spokesman for the local education authorities in Wales said that parents were encouraged into making claims by the presence of “No Win, No Fee” solicitors, however Owen Hathway – Policy Officer for the teacher´s union NUT Cymru – argued that if local councils in Wales invested more money to make schools safe for children, there would not be so many preventable accidents.

One of the mothers of a child injured in an accident at school also appeared in the BBC report. She told reporters how her son – Isaac Bingham from Shotton in Flintshire – received an eye injury when a defective school gate swung back and hit him in the face. Mrs Bingham told reporters that she made a compensation claim in order to have the school fix the hazard so that no other children would be hurt by the gate.

UK Claims Solicitors Footnote: The £1,800 settlement of compensation for childrens injuries at school awarded to Isaac was first approved by a judge – as all compensation settlements for injuries to children are – and then placed into a trust where it will remain until Isaac is eighteen years of age.

Claim for Cyclists Injuries Resolved after 8 Years

Posted on: August 17th, 2013

A claim for a cyclists injuries has been resolved eight years after he sustained life-threatening injuries in a road traffic accident and following three court hearings.

Toby Phethean-Hubble was a sixteen-year-old teenager when, in November 2005, he cycled into the street to cross the road outside the Whitchurch Leisure Centre in Shropshire, and was knocked over by a car being driven by seventeen-year-old teenager Sam Coles.

Coles – who had passed his driving test only eight days earlier and who was driving his parent´s automatic car for the first time – admitted to police that he had seen Toby cycling along the pavement, but was unable to prevent the collision when Toby cycled off the pavement and onto the road. He also confessed to driving faster than the 30 miles-per-hour speed limit.

Toby suffered catastrophic brain injuries in the accident and it was feared that he may not live. However, following an operation to place a titanium plate in his head and years of physiotherapy at a specialist centre in North Devon, Toby can now walk again with the assistance of a walking frame.

Because he was too badly injured to represent himself, Toby made a compensation claim for cyclists injuries against Coles through his mother; but Coles´ insurance company denied that their client was responsible for causing the accident, and the compensation claim for cyclists injuries proceeded to court.

At the High Court in London In March 2011, Judge Wilcox found in Toby´s favour – but said that he should assume one-third liability for the accident due to his contributory negligence. Coles´ insurers appealed the decision and, in April 2012, the Appeal Court increased the deduction of compensation for cyclists injuries to one-half in respect of Toby´s own lack of care.

The Appeal Court case was subsequently adjourned to allow for the assessment of damages, and last week – in a further hearing at the High Court – Mr Justice Stewart approved a £5.3 million settlement Toby´s claim for cyclists injuries which will enable him to continue receiving treatment for his injuries at the North Devon rehabilitation centre.

Extension of MoJ Reforms will Allow Quicker Settlements of Personal Injury Claims

Posted on: August 5th, 2013

On 1st August 2013, changes to the Ministry of Justice´s claims portal program were introduced which should allow for quicker settlements of personal injury claims.

The changes relate to claims for personal injury compensation due to a road traffic accident, an injury at work or injuries sustained in a place of public access (public liability claims) which occur in England and Wales on or after 1st August 2013, and which have an anticipated value of less than £25,000.

Until these procedural changes were made, insurance companies could often delay settlements of personal injury claims by leaving the acknowledgement of a solicitor´s “Letter of Claim” – and failing to admit their policyholder´s liability – until the last possible moment.

Now, strict time limits have been introduced so that insurance companies have to acknowledge a Letter of Claim within 24 hours and advise the solicitor whether liability for a personal injury will be accepted or declined within 30 days (40 days for injuries at work).

This system replaces the old 90 day limit and insurance companies who fail to adhere to the new regulations will have the claim taken out of the cost-saving claims portal program with the insurance company liable for any additional expenses they incur whether they are successful in defending the claim or not.

The new procedures should enable claimants to receive settlements of personal injury claim much quicker; however there are several exceptions to the recently introduced regulations which include:-

  • Public liability claims against a private individual
  • Claims for food poisoning after eating in a restaurant
  • Claims due to a lack of care by more than one party
  • Any claim for an accident outside of England or Wales
  • Claims in which the defendant is uninsured or untraceable
  • Claims for medical malpractice or clinical negligence
  • Claims for compensation for contracting mesothelioma

The Ministry of Justice reforms do not affect the Statute of Limitations – which determines long you have to make a claim for personal injury compensation after discovering that an injury has been sustained – and only apply to accidents which have occurred or injuries which have been diagnosed on or after 1st August 2013.

If you have any questions regarding how the quicker settlements of personal injury claims may affect you or your entitlement to personal injury compensation, you are advised to speak with a claims solicitor at the first possible moment.