Archive for April, 2013

It will soon be a Bank Holiday – What could possibly go wrong!

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

Memories Fade

Fortunately we are on course to enjoy a Bank Holiday without snow on the ground, so we can actually plan to take a trip out.

Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham kids in carYou only have to say the words ‘Bank Holiday’ and ‘trip out’ and it takes me back to an early childhood memory of being stuck in traffic on a road from Liverpool to North Wales, probably somewhere near Mold for what seemed like hours with my parents repeatedly saying ‘never again’.  So that was pretty much it, Bank Holidays sewn up.  Always spent at home.

An earlier memory on that North Wales road was that of a tree falling and hitting the bonnet of our VW Beetle.  This story was often discussed at home.  I have a vague picture in my head of the tree on the bonnet of the car but I really do not know whether this memory is real or has my mind created the picture over the years.

Yes memories do fade, which is why, if you have an accident, you should make notes – on paper, on the back of a cigarette packet, it does not matter, but a Top Tip is to make notes.

It is recognised in the legal profession that more emphasis is placed on notes made at the time of an accident than, for example, a statement made a year later.

Kids – What do we do with them?

What do we do with our kids on Bank Holidays?  I am now spared this worry as my children are grown up, but I do miss those busy, but fun, crazy days.  One day for a party we hired a ‘Gladiator’ Bouncy Castle which went in our back garden.  There must have been between 20 and 30 kids – what were we thinking?

Personal Injury Solicitors Birmingham kids bouncy castleThis was before the case of  a 10 year old boy who was seriously injured on a bouncy castle. The boy was playing with a much older and taller boy, doing somersaults.  It was whilst doing a somersault that the older boy’s heel struck the younger boy on the forehead and he sustained a depressed skull fracture and brain damage. The judge decided that the people who had hired the bouncy castle (the Defendants) were liable to the boy – they had to maintain constant supervision,  prevent children from doing flips or somersaults, ensure that only children of a similar size and weight played on the bouncy castle at the same time.

The trampoline in our back garden was taken down the next day.

There was then an appeal by the Defendants and the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal.  The judge concluded “The Defendant could not be held at fault for the way that she acted.  The manner in which she was supervising activities on the bouncy castle … accorded with the demands of reasonable care for the children using it.  The accident was a freak and tragic accident.  It occurred without fault”.  (Perry & Perry v Harris (a minor) 2008.

A Top Tip – check your household insurance.  If you own your own property you don’t want to be forced to sell to pay damages for an accident which was your fault which occurred on your property.  The level of insurance is important too.

Bank Holiday – Taking things to the skip

What fun Bank Holidays we have?

If you are having a clear out or decorating, please keep safety in mind.  As a Personal Injury Lawyer, I would hope I am more careful than most, but my family will probably recall times that I have left things at the top of the stairs which they have nearly fallen over.

Accident Claim Birmingham cat on stairsA cat + stairs = danger – as my colleague Stephen O’Neil will verify.  He fell over his cat on the stairs and sustained injuries.

Just take an extra second or two to move something away so it is not a tripping hazard.

A Top Tip is to wear protective clothing when working:- gloves, a hat, clothing which cover your arms, thicker clothing, non slippy shoes etc.

Personal Injury Pal hope you have a good Bank Holiday break, but remember if you have an accident or know someone who has and you are wondering if a claim can be made,  it may be worth a chat with one of our team at Personal Injury Pal.

Mrs Thatcher

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

It’s Baroness Thatcher’s funeral and as I drive to the train station I hear such diverse views that I find difficult to comprehend.

I remember as a child/teenager the impact that Baroness Thatcher’s policies had upon sections of the community.  It is no surprise to hear today that the lady herself divides a nation.

However I feel sadness today.  Sadness is a respectful sympathy for Baroness Thatcher’s close friends and family who have lost a loved one.

I also feel sadness over the “parties” that are planned.  I understand that the policies twenty plus years ago destroyed jobs, communities and overall the lives of those affected.  However the “parties” are generated by a bitterness and hatred that developed 20-30 years ago and must have been carried around for such a long period.  The burden of this bitterness must have weighed heavy on the lives of those partaking in the parties today.  And so as the champagne corks pop I question has that legacy of bitterness really been worth it.

What has that bitterness and hatred achieved and after the last balloon bursts today will tomorrow really wipe clean the slate?

Melted Chocolate:

Friday, April 5th, 2013

D Day has arrived.  We’ve gorged ourselves on our last Easter egg and we are now in that post Easter feeling that merely the very sight of another egg will make us sick!!

Personal injury is now governed by the new rules and regime change.  Ours and our clients’ ability to gorge on these cases will no longer be allowed and we are now on a strict regime of everything having consequences and we all have to take a hit on the benefits.  And so here we are.  No longer can we guarantee clients’ 100% of their damages.  No longer can solicitors firms “spring up” and earn a small fortune in fees.

Time will tell whether such austerity cuts will benefit all in the long term.  However personally I think the wet wipes should be available certainly short term whilst people grasp onto that last piece of chocolate which will inevitably melt as the new regime bites!

Full Circle

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Some, including myself, are old enough to remember the days pre No Win No Fee.

A regime where if you were low paid or on benefits you could pursue a claim for Personal Injury through Legal Aid.  There were times when our potential clients of “middle income” could not afford to pursue a claim.  Any risk, no matter how low was treated as a risk.  And so No Win No Fee Agreements were introduced and for a while ran alongside Legal Aid.

Suddenly my numbers of “middle income” cases increased.  Access to Justice was increased!!  A good day for all!!  Did any of my new type of client complain?  No.  Did they argue and question why they should pay something from their damages, be it success fee or insurance premium?  No.  Why not?  Because at that time people including myself recognised that this was a new benefit.

People who had never had access to justice because of the prohibitive costs could now get justice.  Amid this new regime, where clients can lose up to 25% and have to pay insurance premiums let’s not lose sight of the fact that yes there has been change.  However are we in a better position than prior to No Win No Fee Agreements?  Yes.  I would still like to think so.  Time will tell.

Unreasonable Expectations

Friday, April 5th, 2013

As my 7 year old becomes more and more like a teenager I find myself turning into my mother and questioning why the younger generation have so very different expectations and demands on life to my own.  At the risk of hearing violins playing I never expected presents other than at Birthday and Christmas.

A treat would be a cinema trip or tea out at a Wimpey Bar.  No Macky D’s back then!   I still remember tucking into their apple pie and ice cream and thinking my life was heaven!  I now look at my own children, dancing lessons; gymnastics; swimming lessons are not “treats” but an expectation.  Why can’t my eldest have an IPOD?  Why can’t she have whatever she wants?  I am under no illusion that apple pie and ice cream will never satisfy her.  And so where did I go wrong?  Where did responsibility move to expectation?

I find myself likening my domestic arrangements to my Professional life.   My clients were previously prepared to lose part of their damages to be allowed to recover most of the same.  We then as a Profession said “have it all” you are entitled.  However at what cost?  And there was  a cost.  Insurance premiums escalating; middlemen taking their cut (both insurance companies and Claims Management Companies).  We as a Profession let this petulant child continue to stamp its feet to the point some were paying clients part of their expected compensation (before they’d even won a case!)!!  The House of Cards would inevitably tumble and now we are all looking back at where it all went wrong?

“Mad Quackers”

Friday, April 5th, 2013

As I stood at the train station in the sub zero temperature I witnessed first hand a flagrant breach of Health & Safety issues opposite me.  No warning signs; no barriers; no staff guidance; no warning bells.  My heart rate increased as I watched the subject in question casually wander off the edge of the platform to take a shortcut to her destination.  Whilst she ambled along I waited anxiously to see impending doom when the 8.05 am to Liverpool approached.  Thankfully disaster was avoided.  But it led me to raise a question; common sense!?  In this “health & safety gone mad” world as Personal Injury Solicitors we constantly have to face situations like this daily.  Each case will turn on its own facts.  Certain cases will mean that we have to say “sorry we can’t help”, others will be ones where the blame can be apportioned.  In certain circumstances the whole blame will be with the other party.  You may think you have no case but a solicitor with Personal Injury experience will assess each case on its facts. If in doubt whether you have a case then please contact us and we will see what we can do.

As for the subject of my story – well truth be told she couldn’t have signed the No Win No Fee Agreement anyway.  Thankfully she waddled safely back to her pond!!

A New Medical World

Friday, April 5th, 2013

How would you like a new push button system of diagnosis with your GP?  It would no doubt cut NHS costs.  “If you have a cough press 1”, 1 is pressed followed by a list of other sub-symptoms, – coughing up blood? any flem? Dry cough” followed by after pressing another button “how long – 2 days or under; 1 week or under” followed by a series of endless telephone button pressing whereby I would wait for “sorry you are terminally ill”.  A horrifying and hopefully never to be seen system!!

Yet here we are, having accidents which affect our health, wealth and inevitably happiness and we are happy to be passed to a call centre to deal with our claim.  We crave our doctor’s personal touch (not too literally!) simply because as human beings we are social creatures.  We like to tell someone face to face how we feel.  We like to have that personal reassurance when looking in their eyes and that sigh of relief when we are told what we are facing.  My clients aren’t a form; they aren’t something that I can fit into a tick box.  Their accident no matter how small will have affected them.  To them they may be wary; frightened; worried about the future; nervous; not sure what to do!  Solicitors are there for a reason!  We are the “doctors” as far as your legal requirements go.  If we continue to systemise everything where will it all stop?  Let’s hope not at the NHS!