Issues with injury claims and the personal injury market

The last decade has witnessed a boom in personal injury claims, particularly in those areas such as road traffic accidents, and work-related accidents. Whiplash injury claims have soared, with many labelling this new era as the ‘compensation culture’.

Although it is actually relatively simple to pursue a personal injury claim, the perceived complexity of such claims has led to a burst in claims management companies (CMCs).

Those that are thinking of using these companies should be wary of whether they are actually getting professional advice – many use ‘claims specialists’ rather than actual solicitors – and so advice can sometimes be diluted, or not be as professional as one might expect.

Problem #1: Time Delays between the Accident and the Claim

One of the biggest problems with personal claims is the time delay between the accident and the beginning of the case. Most of these claims are based on the negligence of the defendant, and so need to be pursued within 3 years from the date the injured party becomes aware of the fact that they have suffered an injury. Note that the time limit does not begin from the date of the accident, but from the date at which the claimant realises their injury. Continue reading

Car insurance renewals – check the prices

It seems to have become the norm in the motor insurance world that the quotes motorists receive to renew their insurance are often higher than many first time offers by other companies. In some extreme situations it has also been witnessed that renewal quotes can be higher than the original payments, causing many motorists to question their insurance companies.

Internet-savvy motorists have also discovered that their company, who offered them a pricey renewal quote, are offering the same cover cheaper through price comparison sites. This is a very risky strategy for insurance companies, who are assuming that loyal motorists will accept the higher renewal quote without question/looking around. This demonstrates how little the companies are taking into consideration individual drivers’ circumstances, skills, and accidents to date.

It has been found that insurance premiums have increased by 17% in the last year alone, with insurance companies quick to offer excuses of increased whiplash claims and increased fraudulent scams.

The BBC’s Watchdog programme highlighted this ‘trick’ that insurance companies use. Interestingly enough, it is not limited to the smaller insurance companies – instead companies like MoreThan, Admiral and Swiftcover were all offenders. The programme followed a MoreThan customer who had just received a renewal quote of £750. After visiting some price comparison websites, he found the same cover, from the same insurer, for just £512. MoreThan were contacted, and when demanded an explanation, the best they could do was offer the customer the £512 rate for renewal, instead of giving any justification as to their renewal quote pricing structure.

MoreThan later spoke to the BBC and stated that they need low premiums to attract new customers, but existing customers are quoted renewals based on the risk they pose to the company. If that truly were the case, then why were they so quick to offer the customer mentioned above the cheaper renewal rate?

Another customer the BBC Watchdog programme highlighted was a customer from Admiral. Paying £1000 a year for 2 cars, he was shocked to receive his renewal quote, which required him to double his premium at £2000. Searching online, this customer found exactly the same type of cover with the same insurer for just £961. After ringing up Admiral, they again were quick to offer him the cheaper rate without fuss. When asked for an explanation for this strategy, they too attempted to give a similar justification for their pricing structure.

Having read about these case studies, it is imperative that all drivers who manage their insurance do not just accept the renewal quote from their insurance company that gets posted through the door. At the very least, customers should check online price comparison websites, to ensure they are aware of the prices their insurance company are offering to new customers. According to GoCompare, some 27% of people do not even do this small step, allowing their insurance company to automatically renew their policy at the end of the existing one. Estimated savings which drivers could have saved by not doing this reach around £3.1 billion.

Everyone recognises that with the current economic climate, companies are feeling pushed to retain their profits. However, it becomes quite unacceptable when companies are resorting to these sort of tactics in an attempt to fleece their loyal customers. It means that customers are having to work extra hard in order to spot these tactics in an attempt not to trip over them. The sheer fact that these companies are readily offering the lower, new premiums when loyal customers complain about their renewal quotes is evidence to the fact that they are just trying to rely on those that will renew automatically without questioning the raised price.

Cosmetic Surgery Negligence Cases

When you undergo surgery, there is always the chance that something can go wrong and many people are finding out just how wrong cosmetic surgery can go, which is ironic considering it is supposed to make you look better!

The rise of cosmetic surgery negligence cases can be explained by one simple fact – more people are having it done. However, what is more worrying are the surgeons that people are going to when having their surgery. Due to the expense involved with cosmetic surgery people are putting money before their health. As a result people are not carrying out any due diligence because they want to save money and surgeons are cutting corners because they want to make money. For example, there have been some recent cases where people are using cheaper surgeons, carrying out a variety of procedures when in fact they are only trained for one. Some people even go abroad for these treatments and it is even possible to go on a package holiday where cosmetic surgery is included.

Going abroad for cosmetic surgery can be very dangerous. As well as usual issues such as language barriers, your travel insurance is unlikely to cover you if things go wrong with your cosmetic surgery and things can very easily go wrong. There have been a number of cases abroad where it has been found that surgeons are either not qualified to do the job, their practices do not have the same health and safety standards as the UK or the surgeons are simply not competent to carry out these procedures. This has resulted in a number of horror stories from utensils being left inside bodies following procedures or unconnected parts of the body being permanently damaged.

Other common blunders by surgeons both in the UK and abroad include: failing to obtain proper consent, not taking down medical history, leaving permanent scars and asymmetrical features. In these cases, if the patient has carried out their due diligence and is not to blame for the procedure then they may be entitled to compensation. The amount of compensation varies depending on the seriousness of the negligence and the long term effects, but it can be substantial. You may be surprised to learn that on average, cosmetic surgery negligence cases are more successful than medical negligence cases, particularly in cases of breast surgery, eyelid operations, facelifts, nose reductions and weight loss.

What is important is that before a patient undergoes cosmetic surgery, their doctor carries out a psychological evaluation to make sure that the patient understands what surgery they are getting and that they do not have unrealistic expectations. Duty of care and health and safety should always be put before profit making otherwise the number of cosmetic surgery negligence cases are going to continue to rise.

If you have had a cosmetic surgery procedure which has gone wrong, there are now some specialist solicitors who may be able to assist you. However, choose carefully, don’t make the same mistake twice.

NHS trusts encouraging personal injury claims ?

NHS trusts ordered to remove ‘no win, no fee’ adverts

There is a growing clamor, and in some cases for understandable reasons, to reign in the worst excesses of the personal injury market.

What is frankly rather ironic and hypocritical is the way in which, when facing anger and criticism about big increases in insurance premiums, particularly car insurance, the insurers pass the buck to personal injury lawyers, notwithstanding that :-

  • they have known about and done little to combat postcode personal injury claims for whiplash
  • they have been earning money by charging lawyers for referrals when their insured’s want to make a claim against another insured’s insurers

The same principle perhaps applies to the hospitals who have been taking in revenue from allowing personal injury lawyers to advertise in official hospital publications. On one level this can’t be justified, that is on the moral level, particularly given that NHS Trusts who allow advertising have shown clever business skills by making any advertising dependent upon the law firm agreeing not to sue that Trust. However, such advertising being allowed does in some way legitimise the encouragement of making claims, and perhaps shifts problems in some cases onto other Trusts and local organizations such as the local council or other public bodies.

PI claims – an app for that !

Personal Injury claims – there’s an app for that !

Yes, you guessed it, there’s now a handy mobile app for starting a personal injury claim, and this is really no surprise bearing in mind the market for personal injury claims is now thought to be worth as much as 3 billion pounds a year.

This is an ingenious move and notwithstanding the cynicism about the PI market and so-called ambulance chasing lawyers, this particular app seems to be well thought out and in fact genuinely useful.

When accidents happen, particularly traffic accidents, in the chaos and shock afterwards, it can be very difficult to remember what has happened, who the other parties are, their insurance details, witnesses and so on. This new app, created by 2ergo enables fast and easy collection of the vital data required. In fact, the insurers are welcoming this also as it is likely to assist in weeding out some of the many dodgy claims made each year because the way it is intended to work is that each insurer will have their own app and the customer will complete the details and forward to their insurance company. And best of all, this app is free, although we are not yet able to advise on which operating systems it may work, although we will update on this when we find out more.