Government denies Law Society access to Road Traffic Accident portal reports

The Law Society has expressed its anger after a request for the report on which the Road Traffic Accident [RTA Portal] reforms are based was rejected by the government.

Whilst the Ministry of Justice has a right to turn down requests made under the Freedom of Information Act, the Law Society contends that the rejection marks an attempt to hide information about the decision making process behind the reforms.

The proposed reforms would see a massive cut in the fixed recoverable legal fee figures for injury claims up to the value of £10,000 from £1200 to £500. There are also plans to make it possible for employment and public liability claims to be made through the RTA Portal.

The Law Society is not the only organisation calling for greater transparency over the decision-making process behind civil justice reforms. Next week, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and Motor Accident Solicitors Society will go to the High Court to ask for a review behind the decision to withhold the report.

The government’s personal injury law advisor Paul Fenn is said to have written the report having carried out various studies into how the RTA system could be improved. Indeed, reforms are generally based on extensive research but it is argued by some that in this instance, lobbying from the insurance sector experts and the unqualified opinions of ministers had too much influence when drafting reforms.

Whilst the reforms are due to come into force on the 1st of April, there have already been various hitches. Chris Grayling was forced to postpone the expansion of the portal following fears that it would not be able to cope with the volume of claims but a new date has not yet been announced. Feedback is also due following a consultation over new fees which ended in January.

Making a claim for traffic accident compensation?

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Government reforms cause concern for asbestos exposure victims

Asbestos related diseases are horrible ailments and many suffered contract such diseases because they were negligently exposed to asbestos by their employers decades ago. As a result asbestos compensation claims are of great importance to many people, hence why the government announcement that this type of personal injury claim may be reformed caused concerns for many.

In spring 2013 the government is set to have a consultation on such claims where the possibility of fixing legal fees, establishing an electronic portal for asbestos claims and creating a pre-action code of behaviour are likely to be discussed.

Possible reforms to asbestos claims have already been delayed due to such claims being made exempt from the effects of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act. As a result, the government is keen to have an in depth discussion in the near future.

The litigation process can be extremely long for victims of overexposure to asbestos and attempts to speed up this process should therefore be encouraged. However, there are growing concerns that the government will attempt to cut the cost of litigation too dramatically which in turn could lead to personal injury claims not been investigated thoroughly enough causing victims to lose out on compensation.

Thinking of a Asbestos Related Industrial Disease Claim? Contact us today

If you have been the victim of an asbestos related disease, you could be entitled to claim compensation.

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Can I claim compensation for an injury caused by working at height?

Some of the injuries sustained by victims of workplace falls from great height can be appalling and permanently life changing. Falls from lower heights can also easily result in injuries sufficient to incapacitate for lengthy periods and perhaps leave the victim with an on-going disability. If the victim of such a fall strongly suspects that their accident would not have occurred had their employer not been negligent in their legal duty to ensure that the workplace was safe, then they might be able to bring a claim for personal injury compensation.

Apart from their natural dissatisfaction or even anger about the circumstances of their accident, the workplace fall victim will probably also be coping with recovering from extensive multiple injuries and facing the prospect of the kind of life he or she could not have possibly imagined in their worst nightmares – perhaps confined to a wheelchair and needing constant assistance with even the most basic daily tasks. In such circumstances claiming compensation goes beyond merely being their right, to being their duty to themselves, their family and indeed other workers who might be yet to fall victim to a similar slipshod engagement with health and safety by their employers.

Whether you can claim compensation for you accident or not, is, as indicated above, to do with a question of blame. Analysing the circumstances of your accident and determining who was to blame for it can be a complicated business involving consideration of all the available facts. These facts might be drawn from witness statements, photographic evidence, medical reports, reports from health and safety experts on the condition and fitness for purpose of the equipment you were using and even from the similarity of your accident to those that have occurred in the past for which compensation was awarded.

It’s no game for the inexperienced ‘amateur’ and certainly not for someone struggling to cope with the aftermath of their injuries. That is the reason why specialist work accident solicitors developed – legal professionals whose experience and expert knowledge regarding work related personal injury compensation claims place them in an unrivalled position to be able to advise potential claimants on the viability of their proposed claims and then negotiate the claim to the most successful conclusion possible for their client.

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Common Causes of chemical injury claims at work

The presence of chemicals, capable of causing personal injury, is more prevalent and across a wider range of workplaces than most people realise. From chemicals capable of causing varying degrees of occupational contact dermatitis and found in such commonplace goods as adhesives, cleaning materials and beauty and hairdressing products all the way through to chemicals that are capable of killing, serious personal injury or causing acute, long term health conditions with very little exposure and which are encountered mainly in the petro-chemical and other heavy industries.

These hazardous chemicals affect workers most commonly by the following means:

• Direct physical contact with the body, predominantly eyes and hands and usually the combined result of a chemical spillage due to incorrect storage, handling or use and the worker not wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) which would have provided an impermeable barrier, i.e. gloves or goggles.

• Inhalation of the vapours and gases of some chemicals, due to an accidental release of the vapour/gas or the lack of or inadequacy of a hazardous gas extraction system or as a normal part of the work process being undertaken by workers who haven’t been equipped with effective PPE.

• Affecting workers whose physiological constitution renders them more susceptible to the harmful effects than their co-workers who might not show any ill effects at all.

• Low level exposure over a long period of time, the harmful effects of which might not manifest for months or years after the commencement (and indeed ending) of that exposure, as in the case of fertilisers, sheep dip and weed-killers used, or previously used, in the farming industry.

Chemical injuries can thus be seen to be caused mainly by that ‘perfect storm’ of hazardous substance coming into contact with unprotected or/and untrained worker who might perhaps be working in an environment in which the control, containment or other engineering or process mechanisms for hazard elimination or reduction are not or only partially in place. This brings us on to the role of the employer.

If an employer due to his failure to discharge his duty of care to keep his employees safe and his lack of compliance with health and safety legislation is the reason or contributory reason that an employee suffers a chemical injury, then that employee could make a claim for chemical injury compensation. It’s as simple as that; bad employer + employee injured at work can = a valid claim for personal injury compensation.

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Common causes of injury and accidents in schools

Amongst organisations, schools in the United Kingdom rank alongside those who place health and safety at the very top of their list of priorities. This is hardly surprising considering that they are responsible not only for the workplace health, safety and welfare of those they employ but also for the infinitely greater number of children who attend them. What is surprising therefore is that accidents to school staff are not infrequent and indeed in the year 2010-11 close to two thousand major accidents were reported to the Health and Safety Executive along with many thousands of accidents requiring staff to take three or more days off work.

The most common cause of accidents in both categories were slips, trips and falls on the level; nearly two and half thousand of them. This cause of accidents is the most common in a great many employment sectors and the reasons they occur are generally the same; badly maintained, contaminated, uneven, holed, frayed, chipped, and potholed floors and external surfaces. Schools are no different in that respect but the likelihood of slips, trips and level surfaces occurring is increased by the financial strain many state run schools are currently under and which can lead to backlogs in building maintenance occurring – not that this unfortunate situation in any way absolves a school from blame if it fails in its legal duty to provide a safe working environment for its employees.

The next most common cause of accidents is related to carrying and lifting. It is not immediately obvious that the work carried out in schools would involve a great deal of manual handling, but it does. From kitchen staff moving heavy pans of liquids and support staff carrying office supplies all the way through the front line and teachers having to transport teaching supplies or move equipment about in classrooms, lifting and carrying is generally and frequently carried out activity in schools. The fact that close to one and half thousand school employees experienced work related manual handling accidents sufficiently serious to require reporting to the Health and Safety Executive reveals the health and safety eroding combination of high work pressure and inadequate manual handling training existing in some schools.

Of the other statistical causes of accidents in school it is worth noting that over the last year nearly 800 school employees reported being hit by what the HSE categorise as ‘moving, flying or falling objects’. A good proportion of these accidents were the result of the crumbling of the fabric of under-maintained school buildings; only ‘physical assaults’ resulted in as many injuries in schools. So, whilst it is comforting to think of schools as organisations spearheading engagement with health and safety, the reality is that many are engaged in an uphill battle in this area.

Contact us about your injury claim as soon as possible

Please be aware that strictly enforced time limitation periods apply to all personal injury claims, and it is often easier investigating your compensation claim if you get prompt legal advice, while your accident is easy to recall.

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