Thursday, 13 September 2012

Axing Compensation For Victims Of Criminal Injury Have Been Scrapped

Plans for axing personal injury claims for victims of criminal injury have been scrapped by government ministers.

The proposed plan was intended to place a limit on the payments to victims of minor injuries so that only victims who have suffered injuries of a severe nature would be eligible to claim. Last year claims for criminal injuries reached £449 million. If the plan was implemented it is thought that it would have saved taxpayers upto £50 million.

However, strong claims had been made against the tory government that reduction in deficit is more important to them than compassion.

Rob Flello, the shadow justice minister said "Even contemplating these cuts that would have affected innocent victims of crime shows this Tory-led government is out of touch."

"We are on the side of victims and we will oppose this government's policies that threaten their needs."

A spokesman for the ministry of justice said: "The government is committed to providing the best possible support for victims of crime, maintaining compensation for the most seriously affected and to reforming the criminal injuries compensation scheme to put it on a sustainable financial footing."

"We have listened to the views expressed in Parliament and will now consider our next steps."

Only a week before Ken Clarke, Justice secretary, was ejected from his position and Chris Grayling placed. Junior justice minister Helen Grant, who appeared for the first time after her promotion as a former backbencher from the recent cabinet reshuffles said: "We concluded that the scheme needed to focus resources on the victims who are most seriously affected by injuries that they suffer as a result of deliberate violent crime committed in England, Wales and Scotland."

"We believe that the provision of support services for victims at the point of need is a much better use of money than providing small amounts of compensation, in some cases long after the incident involved, for relatively minor injuries."

"For that reason we are removing payments for less serious injuries such as sprains and fractures."

In reply to a debate in the house of commons which was fore fronted by Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins, who said. "To withdraw compensation from these innocent victims of crime goes against the very purpose of criminal injuries compensation and ignores the view held by successive governments for decades that victims of violent crime deserve more than just words.

"No one asks to be a victim of crime. Reducing, or removing altogether, the amount of compensation available to those people will send a clear message that the state does not view their injuries as serious or important."
In the end, Access to Justice has come down in favour of the victim, re-affirming the decision to drop the plans is a victory for innocent victims of crime.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Lawyers & Bees - Part 2

As a personal injury claims solicitor, I sometimes have to use that time-honoured legal phrase “it depends”. I don't like using it. Honestly. However sometimes it is actually the only one which fits. A client wants a simple answer. Even when there really isn't a simple answer to be had.

“Will my case settle? And for how much?”Well it depends on so many factors – including choices to be made by the other side. The value depends on the medical evidence yet to be obtained.

As a beekeeper, sometimes I have to say “it depends” as well.

I am on a list of people to be contacted to collect swarms of honey bees from the gardens of members of the public .So callers phone in, “Can you come and remove the swarm of bees in my garden?”

Out comes the time-honoured legal phrase.... And I ask a few more questions about the bees.

“Well there're dozens of them on the flowers on a bush in my garden.”

They're foraging. They're doing what bees. They're not swarming. Just leave them alone.

Further questioning: Are they the big fluffy ones? When you say”loads”, do you mean a few flying every minute or hundreds? I explain I am trying to work out if they are honey bees or bumblebees. The difference is not just a matter of words, but is fundamental to my advice.

If they are honey bees and they haven't already set up home in the wall cavity, I may be able to help. They can be relocated successfully.

If they are the big fluffy ones, they are bumblebees; and moving the nest normally results in its death. In any case, the bumblebee lifecycle means the colony will be gone by autumn. They are harmless. In fact most species are in trouble and all of them can do with a bit of help.

So can I help with someone's bee problem?

Well it depends....

Author: Derrik Harris (Solicitor - Birchall Blackburn)
Derrik Harris is a personal injury claims solicitor based in Birchall Blackburn's Preston office

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Lawyers And Bees - Part 1

What do Bees and Lawyers have in common? “Both have a sting in the tail” is perhaps the cynical response. Indeed, at first sight, both tend to provoke a “Yuck-reaction”!  However, both are actually very important – even if you wouldn’t want either swarming around your barbeque.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying that if we lose honey bees, then Mankind will be extinct within 4 years.  Einstein was neither a bee-keeper or a biologist, so has no qualification to comment outside his field of expertise.  His alleged quotation is actually nonsense.  However, life would certainly be very uncomfortable and much poorer without the vital pollination services of honey bees (and other pollinating insects).
Surely we can do without lawyers though? 

As a solicitor, I am sure that I will be accused of being biased.  On the other hand, I am perhaps qualified to comment – unlike Einstein on honey bees. At its most basic, Law deals with the relationships between people and things they consider important: Their family, their job and their society.  As an employee, should I be able to go to work with a reasonable expectation that I will be safe whilst I’m there? Should I expect my employer to treat me reasonably, including not dismissing me unfairly? And if I am an employer, what can my staff reasonably expect from me? Are there any limits? What can I expect from them?

So where there is Law, there is also a need for Lawyers.  Until the day that everyone can agree what is fair and reasonable – and agrees to follow it without any supervision.

Honey bees don’t have Lawyers, it is true.  But, as future blogs will reveal, their “harmony” is based on chemicals, violence and …dancing.

Author: Derrik Harris (Solicitor - Birchall Blackburn)
Derrik Harris is a personal injury solicitor based in Birchall Blackburn's Preston office

Friday, 22 June 2012

2013 Speed Limit To Increase to 80Mph

In a bid to boost the economy, the Transport Secretary has announced the government’s plans to increase the UK’s current maximum motorway speed limit from 70mph to 80mph in 2013. 

The Government reckons the increase will have the effect of saving hundreds of millions of pounds annually by enabling people to get to places quicker.  The Government says the increased speed limit balances the costs and benefits and brings the UK in line with other EU countries.

I question, what will happen about enforcement?  If the police continue to follow present guidelines, then speeds could reach 90mph before any action is taken.

The increase of the maximum speed limit to 80mph will surely increase the number of accidents on the roads.

An increase in maximum speed limits combined with the wet and cold weather conditions this country is renowned for, will lead to treacherous and hazardous driving conditions and ultimately an increase in the number of high speed impacts and tragedies encountered on the roads. It’s interesting that there is nothing from the Government on implementing a weather dependant maximum speed limit, such as in France. When it rains on our French cousins the speed limit is 110 kilometres per hour, or 68.75 miles per hour: a slower speed limit than in the UK.

Other dangers posed by vehicle problems, dangerous driving and driver fatigue are heightened and, more inevitably, at faster speeds. 

The potential for motorway pile ups could increase as stopping distances will be shortened, reaction times lessened and so the number of high speed road traffic collisions resulting in serious, catastrophic and even fatal injuries could also rise.

Sadly, with an increase in persons involved in such accidents suffering catastrophic injuries such as brain injuries, quadriplegia and paraplegia, the already pressurised NHS will also be affected with regard to the immediate and long term treatment costs required by such accident victims. 

Acting for victims of such accidents in claims for compensation gives you a great deal of insight into how lives are turned upside down after such accidents.  The injured person and their families suffer not only the horrendous injuries, physically, mentally and emotionally, they also suffer vast financial losses including a loss of earnings, loss of future earnings as well as the cost of long term medical treatment. Pensions are affected, care and assistance is required and often required for the rest of their lives.  Houses need to be adapted or even sold to accommodate the injured person.

These claims are complex and costly. Could this be yet another excuse the insurance industry gives for maintaining, of even increasing further, the cost of road traffic insurance?

One thing all drivers should be careful of is to ensure, if any part of their working day other than their commute, involves driving they need to make sure their policy covers driving whilst working and not just social and leisure. Working drivers traditionally do more motorway driving so perhaps that is where the insurers will look to take advantage of this change in the law and increasing their revenue once more.

If you or someone you know has suffered injury in a road traffic accident, then contact Birchall Blackburn and speak to one of our injury solicitors.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Personal Injury Compensation Claims

If you’ve been involved in an accident and you weren’t to blame then you have the right to claim for compensation.  Personal injury solicitors are experts in recovering compensation in the shortest time possible. Their experience and knowledge will enable them to negotiate the maximum amount of compensation that is fair depending on the type of injury you have.

There are many types of injuries you can make a claim for. Some of the most common types are:

Accidents At Work

The employer is responsible for ensuring the work environment is safe and should you be involved in an accident at work, which was caused by unsafe working conditions, or by another employee you can make a claim. An injury caused by machinery or defective tools for example is a legitimate reason to pursue a claim.

Industrial Disease

If you are a victim of a condition caused by exposure to a particular substance. A good example of this is asbestosis caused by contact to asbestos fibres, which have been inhaled.

Clinical Negligence

If you have been misdiagnosed or have been affected by a medial procedure that has resulted in an injury, then you can make a clinical negligence claim.

Road Traffic Accidents

A road traffic accident claim can be made against other car and motorbike drivers, passengers, cyclists and even pedestrians, if you were a victim of an accident and it wasn’t your fault.

Making a claim for compensation isn’t just confined to a physical injury but also for mental illness. Your injury might have stopped you from working. It’s likely that you have suffered stress as a result of financial difficulties.

Making a compensation claim is simple. Just contact a personal injury solicitor and they will access your claim and the circumstances behind it. The average time for a successful claim is usually between about 3 – 4 months. The insurers of the party responsible pay out the value of the claim.