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Blackout crash sees seven-figure sum of compensation

The Essex Echo is reporting that a single mother from Essex is to receive a seven-figure sum in car accident compensation after insurers for the at-fault driver admitted liability.

The car crash occurred in December 2009 when the woman was driving along the Miles Gray Road, Basildon. The 76-year-old driver of the other car involved had been travelling towards her when he lost consciousness at the wheel. His Ford Ka hit the woman's vehicle head on.

The woman, a 48-year-old cleaner, suffered life-changing personal injuries and while her cognitive faculties have been unaffected she is likely to have to remain reliant on a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

The male driver died at the scene and it was later revealed that had been suffering from a heart condition at the time of the car accident. The family's personal injury solicitor commented on the car accident compensation award by saying, "The settlement figure is calculated according to our client's needs for the rest of her life.

We're glad the claim was agreed collaboratively and swiftly without the need for a trial, especially as many legal firms would have baulked at the case because of the unfortunate nature of the accident."

Almost half of British public unaware of 'crash for cash' fraud claims

Not enough motorists are aware of a dangerous scam currently taking place on roads across the UK, which has been dubbed 'crash for cash'.

According to research carried out by More Than, the UK insurance group, 41 per cent of British drivers have never heard of this particular criminal act, which sees fraudsters intentionally causing car crashes in order to claim insurance, often claiming whiplash compensation.

Although it is widely believed that fraudulent claims such as these are currently on the rise in the country due to the on-going recession, the research discovered that over the last two years, incidents have dropped by 11 per cent, mainly as a result of insurance companies and the police making an effort to crack down on the fraudsters.

However, Pete Markey, a spokesperson for More Than, thinks that more people need to make themselves aware of the scam. "If more drivers were made aware of the dangers they are facing, it becomes more likely that they will be able to report anything unusual to their insurance company."

The research also found that of those involved with such a crash, two-thirds did not realise that it was staged and a further third would not know what to do in such a situation anyway.

If you are involved in a road accident and believe that it could be an attempt of a 'crash for cash' scam, you should get in touch with your insurance company immediately and alert them of your suspicions. Not only will they then have your side of the story on file but they will be more prepared to look out for anything out of the ordinary.

Also, in addition to exchanging insurance details with the driver, try to make a note of how many passengers are in their car. For example, if it is a fraudulent claim, they may be claiming whiplash compensation for themselves and three passengers, when they may have only had one passenger when the road accident took place. This will help you to protect yourself from any phantom passenger claims, which could otherwise increase the claim being made against your insurance.

Lastly, this scam can be avoided with safe, careful driving. Always keep a safe braking distance from the car in front, as you will always be liable if they brake suddenly causing you to hit them in the rear, even if you argue that there was nothing causing them to brake. Don't help them out by driving too close to them, as the fraudsters will be on the lookout for distracted drivers or those who are driving close behind them in the first place.

Uninsured driver ordered to pay damages

Cycling accident compensation has been paid to a man from Leicestershire who was forced to spend the night in hospital after suffering a number of personal injuries as a result of being hit by an uninsured motorist.

The uninsured motorist, a 35-year-old from Harborough, pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention and driving a car without insurance at Harborough Magistrates Court last week.

He offered no explanation for being without motor insurance but attempted to blame the sun getting in his eyes for causing the road traffic accident. "I should have taken more time in looking but the sun was coming down the hill and the cyclist was coming down the hill and I hit him," he said.

The collision caused the cyclist to suffer a sprained ankle and a broken wrist - injuries which required him to be treated overnight in Leicester Royal Infirmary.

A judge at Harborough Magistrates Court ordered the defendant to pay £200 cycling accident compensation to the injured cyclist, although it still may be possible for the cyclist to instruct a personal injury solicitor to make a civil claim for XX1XX through the Motor Insurers Bureau.

Road campaign aims to cut down personal injury claims

A MAJOR new safety campaign aimed at cutting down the number of accidents and personal injury compensation claims caused by deer on roads has been launched in Scotland.

Collisions with deer are responsible for millions of pounds of personal injury claims and damage to cars in around 10,000 accidents every year particularly in the central area of the country.

Transport Scotland and the Deer Commission for Scotland say that around three people a year are killed and many others suffer serious personal injury in accidents involving deer as they roam across rural and suburban roads in search of fresh pastures.

The Deer Collision Database says as many as 50,000 accidents have been recorded across Britain. Many are not reported if there is no personal injury to the driver, or any subsequent compensation claim.

Many deer hit by cars are not killed outright. Instead, they are put down at the roadside, or escape to die later from injury.

Pensioner injured in hit-and-run accident claims for £150,000 in compensation

A Sussex pensioner is claiming up to £150,000 in injury compensation after she was the victim of a hit-and-run road accident in Hastings.

Shelagh Leach, 83, suffered serious personal injury after she was hit by a car outside a petrol station. The driver, Paul Barnard, accidentally mounted the pavement when he swerved to enter the filling station entrance. He then hit Ms Leach and drove off without stopping, leaving her suffering by the roadside.

Barnard was convicted at Hastings Magistrates' Court of driving without due care and attention. Ms Leach's solicitors have now started legal proceedings, seeking compensation of between £100,000 and £150,000 from the motorist's insurance company.

Ms Leach, a retired teacher, spent nearly two months in hospital recovering from the accident. She suffered two broken legs and needed emergency surgery upon arriving at the hospital. Her solicitors claim that before the accident she was healthy and active, but the road accident has since left her traumatised and immobilised by her injuries.

New motorway plans could reduce road accidents and personal injury claims

Plans to widen a busy part of the M62 in West Yorkshire have been publicly unveiled in the hope of easing traffic flow and reducing the number of road accidents and personal injury claims on the stretch of motorway.

The plans reveal that at peak times, the hard shoulder will be used between Brighouse and Rothwell - junctions 25 and 30 respectively - in an attempt to relieve congestion. Emergency lay-bys will then be constructed at regular intervals alongside the hard shoulder to allow for any vehicle breakdowns.

A similar scheme has already been tested on a trial basis on the M42 in the West Midlands. Transport Minister Chris Mole said: "We have been encouraged by results from the hard shoulder running pilot scheme on the M42 near Birmingham which has demonstrated significant reductions in journey times, plus a reduced number of personal injury accidents."

Work on the 'Managed Motorway' scheme on the M62 is expected to start in late 2010 and is estimated to take two years to complete. The Highways Agency also has similar plans for other busy motorways across the country, including parts of the M1 in South Yorkshire and the M60 and M62 in Manchester.

Ministers speed up compensation for road accident victims

People injured in road accidents will be able to claim damages more quickly under a fast-track claims process announced by ministers yesterday.

Under the streamlined procedure, claims valued at between £1,000 and £10,000 can be lodged more quickly, with provision for early admissions of liability and settlement.

The idea is to remove duplication of work and so speed up the process for road accident cases that make up 75 per cent of all personal injury claims.

However, ministers came under immediate fire for creating a two-tier compensation system that will help victims of road accidents, but not victims of accidents at work. Steve Thomas, technical claims manager at Zurich Insurance, said: "This hybrid response will cause widespread confusion and delays to access to justice for Joe Public.

"The Government's response is borne out of desperation to be seen to be doing something, while maintaining the Labour Party income stream which derives largely from unions that refer workplace injury and disease claims to claimant lawyers."

If ministers had bowed to lobbying from claimant lawyers and trade unions, it had done a disservice to people injured in the workplace, he added. Such claims took two years on average to settle, against original reform proposals for a time-frame of 60 days.

The details of the faster procedure for road accident claims were outlined by Bridget Prentice, MP, Minister for Civil Justice, as she published responses to a consultation paper, Case Track Limits and the Claims Process for Personal Injury Claims.

Ministers have also ruled out any change to the small claims limit, including for accident and housing disrepair claims, which remains at £1,000. All claims valued at below that will be handled in the small claims court.

Ms Prentice said: "If you have been injured in a traffic accident, you want any claim resolved as quickly as possible. This new process encourages people to come to a quick settlement and to resolve any issues without a lengthy court process.

"The Government remains of the view that increasing the small claims limits would deny claimants access to appropriate legal advice to assist them with their claims."

The so-called fast track for more complex cases will have increased limit up from £15,000 to £25,000.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil) welcomed the quicker claims system as well as the holding of the small claims limit at £1,000. It had feared that if the limit were raised, people would be forced to bring complex cases on their own in the small claims court, facing lawyers employed by insurance companies.

However, Apil said it was disappointed that ministers had not opted for a statutory requirement to offer rehabilitation. It was also concerned that the higher limit for fast-track cases would draw in some of the difficult and complex claims that should go up to the next level, the so-called multi-track system. "Complexity and not just the value of a claim should be considered," it said.

Henry Bermingham, president of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers, said the proposals were a "missed opportunity" in a personal injury system that was "crying out for reform".

The Ministry of Justice had ignored injury claims that involve employers' liability and public liability, which together imposed a "massive burden on Britain plc and Municipal Britain plc", he said.

Such accident victims should have their own legal advice and support at the very start of the claims process.

Injured pedestrian wins compensation

A woman injured during a road traffic accident in East London has won the right to compensation from Newham Council.

Mrs Pervin Yetkin, 54, from Dalston, was hit by a taxi while crossing Stratford High Street, and suffered a fractured neck and internal injuries.

Mrs Yetkin argued that, although the traffic lights were against her when she crossed the road, the local authority had failed in their duty of care towards her by not cutting back bushes which therefore obscured her view of oncoming traffic.

Three judges at the Court of Appeal ordered Newham Council to pay her for 25% of the damage caused in the incident.

Mrs Yetkin's accident claim had been dismissed at a previous hearing in October, by Judge Hegarty QC at the Manchester civil justice centre, who ruled that the local authority did not owe her a duty of care.

But appeal judges Lord Justice Laws, Lady Justice Smith and Lady Justice Black allowed her challenge and said the single judge had misunderstood the law. Lady Justice Smith ruled: "This highway authority owed a duty to all road users - whether careful or negligent...."

Compensation for loss of sensesCompensation for loss of senses

A woman has won £100,000 bus accident compensation for the injuries she sustained as a result of being hit by a bus.

Sadly for the claimant, a 36-year-old from Port Glasgow, her accident injuries have deprived her of any sense of smell or taste.

The claimant who had been enjoying an afternoon cycle with her friend at the time of the bus accident, had the rear wheel of her bicycle clipped by a bus as she came out of an intersection.

As a result of the impact, the claimant fell to the ground and suffered a fractured skull. She also lost consciousness for five minutes and experienced a seizure.

After being attended to by emergency services workers she was taken to a Glasgow hospital for neurosurgery.

However, the prompt attention of medical staff could not prevent damage to the woman's nerves and nasal cavity causing her to lose her sense of taste and smell.

A personal injury lawyer representing the claimant said she now suffers from short-term memory loss and has difficulty concentrating - she also has reduced employment prospects.

The claimant had hoped to secure bus accident compensation of around £500,000 and the defendant had sought to contest the claim - however, after revising its position, the bus company agreed to a compromise settlement of £100,000.

Car insurance premiums on the rise

Car insurance premiums are rising at their fastest rate in a decade, according to a survey by the AA British Insurance Premium Index.

Premiums have risen by 11% over the past year and 3.5% in the last three months. Between April and June, the average quote for an annual comprehensive car insurance policy rose to £778.13.

The sharp increase is believed to be a result of the number of uninsured motorists on the roads, with an estimated 1.6 million people in the UK currently driving without car insurance. Drivers who do pay for insurance are facing on average an increase of £30 per policy, as insurance companies transfer the rising costs to their policy holders.

Personal injury claims are also on the rise, which has also contributed to the rise in premiums.

Whiplash claims and fraudulent claims - such as the 'crash for cash' scam - are said to be amongst the most common types of vehicle-related compensation claims at present.

The economic recession has been blamed in both instances, with drivers neglecting to renew their car insurance in order to save money, and fraudsters attempting to claim compensation through dishonest claims.

AA Insurance director Simon Douglas said: "Although the number of accidents on Britain's roads is thankfully falling, the cost of claims continues to rise - particularly personal injury claims and legal expenses.

"During the current downturn, fraudulent claims are also putting pressure on premiums and I'm concerned this is leading to an increase in the number of people who drive without insurance."

Penalties are being reconsidered to deter motorists from driving without car insurance. From 2011, drivers could face a £100 fixed penalty fine and see their cars crushed if they are found to be uninsured. It will also be an offence to simply keep an uninsured car, even if it is not being driven.

Meanwhile insurance companies and police are working to identify fraudulent claims and prosecute fraudsters.

Regardless however, Mr Douglas warned that he could not "see the pressure of premiums easing," suggesting that premiums could continue to rise considerably in the future.

Businessman speaks out over whiplash compensation scam

A businessman who fell victim to a car insurance scam has spoken out about his experience in the hope that other drivers will not be taken in by the personal injury scam aimed to generate whiplash compensation from insurance companies.

Michael Adams, of St Albans, believes he was forced into driving into the back of a car by two conmen who were working together in separate cars.

Whilst driving on a roundabout he saw two cars which he states "appeared to be dithering around".

When behind one of the vehicles it quickly slammed its brakes on, meaning that Mr Adams could not avoid hitting it as the other car was positioned to take up the only space that could have been used to swerve around the first car.

Mr Adams said: "The man got out of his car and when I asked him why he stopped he said the car in front had braked. The man claimed he did not speak English even though he wrote his name and address for Mr Adams."

Within a matter of days there were three separate personal injury claims that had been lodged by the first driver and his two passengers. All three claims were seeking whiplash compensation as part of a personal injury claim.

Mr Adams said: "I just want to warn people to be aware if they see cars being driven strangely like these two to keep well back in case they are trying to trap another driver to win big cash payouts."

The businessman has lost his no claims bonus and will face higher car insurance premiums in the future due to the personal injury claims listed against him. He asked his insurance company to fight the case as he believes the claims are fraudulent but they decided to pay the injured parties.

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