Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Government cuts compensation for victims of crime


Earlier this month the government approved changes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme which will see a major drop in who can claim and also the amount of compensation recoverable. Despite strong opposition by victim groups and trade unions, these changes have now come into effect. Any applications made from 27th November 2012 will be dealt with under the new scheme.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is a government organisation which considers applications from people who have been injured as a result of a violent crime. The criteria is strict in terms of who can apply for compensation and there are already many restrictions on eligibility and also the amount of the award.  

The changes which came into effect on 27th November 2012 will see many victims of crime who have been injured no longer eligible for compensation because their injuries are considered 'minor'.
'Minor injuries' include:
  • broken fingers and wrists
  • knee surgery
  • post-traumatic epilepsy
  • permanent speech impairment.
The government considers that these kind of injuries are better dealt with by means of counselling and support for the victime, rather than by an award of compensation.

A spokesperson for the CICA said: ‘...where less serious injuries have been caused, we believe taxpayers’ money is better spent providing support and help rather than what are often small payments well after the crime has been committed.’

However, the changes also reduce the compensation available for loss of earnings, which was previously paid at the employee's salaried rate for the first 28 weeks following the incident, but will now be paid at a flat rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay. There will obviously be those victims whose injuries are not considered serious enough to qualify for a CICA award but which mean that they are unable to work and therefore suffer lost earnings. It is cases such as these where the victim will really lose out.

Whilst it is correct to say that the CICA is still considering applications from victims with more serious injuries, those victims will also see their claims reduced by around 25%.

These serious injuries include:

·         facial scarring

·         permanent brain damage

Forster Dean considers that the changes are going to leave many victims of violent crime without a course of redress. This is concerning particulary in cases where the injuries considered 'minor' by the government have left the victim unable to work. However we remain committed to recovering the correct amount of compensation for victims who remain eligible under the new scheme.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Leigh cardboard company in court over crush injuries

A Leigh cardboard box manufacturer has appeared in court after one of its employees almost lost his right arm when it became trapped in a machine.

The said employee was trying to retrieve a piece of card to clear a blockage when his arm was dragged under a roller, causing severe crush injuries.

His employer was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident which found the guards on the machine were inadequate and that employees regularly removed blockages without power first being cut.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Mike Lisle said "This is an incident that could and should have been avoided, but instead one of Leighton Packaging's employees has suffered severe injuries that are likely to affect him for the rest of his life."

An employer has a responsibility to ensure that they have a suitable system of work in place and must ensure that it is not unsafe which exposes employees to a risk of injury. Manufacturing firms especially must ensure machines are properly guarded and that safety systems are in place to prevent accidents occurring.

If you or a member of your family has been involved in an accident which has resulted in you sustaining injury and would like a free and confidential discussion with one of our specialised Solicitors, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 389 1978 or visit our website at You can also follow us on Twitter (@ForsterDeanLtd) and find Forster Dean Solicitors on Facebook


Mofozzul Hussain LLB (Hons) -Office Manager (Birkenhead) and Personal Injury Solicitor

Monday, 8 October 2012

Why you should say no to Pre-Medical Offers

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has recently called for “sanity” to be restored in the public debate on whiplash.  It comes after their appearance at the House of Commons Transport Select Committee seminar on whiplash.  It was stated by the president of APIL, Karl Tonks that it was “wrong” for insurers to make pre-medical offers. 
Our solicitors work hard to achieve the best possible settlement for all of our clients.  We recommend that our Clients' are seen by a medical expert, this means that an impartial doctor examines the injuries sustained and reports back advising how long the client is likely to suffer for. 

Pre-medical Offers with no legal representation are unfair to the client. When an insurance company offers a settlement amount before a medical report has been sought this is to save them time and money.  The offer does not benefit the client as they are unable to fully value their injuries without a medical report. This would mean the Client has received no advice and has no idea of how severe their injuries are, a simple injury on first assessment may be very different after a medical assessment as this could have a long lasting affects on the Client.  This situation gives the Insurers all the power .

Here at Forster Dean we are able to get our Clients seen by a medical expert swiftly ensuring that they are properly compensated for the injuries they have sustained. We aim to get the best possible settlement for all our clients and aim to get claims settled swiftly, we can often get straight forward matters settled within 12 weeks of instruction. 

If you have had an accident and would like some Advice in relation to the same please do not hesitate to contact us on 01942 366365 or call into our office  at 15 Mesnes Street, Wigan, WN1 1QP were we will be more than happy to assist.
Danielle Winstanley, Litigation Executive (Wigan Office)


Friday, 5 October 2012

Is Health and Safety a Load of Trash?

Move over Kate and Pippa. There is a new Middleton that everyone has been talking about – and he didn’t have to go topless to make the press.

Willie Middleton was himself caught in a compromising position after he managed to get his head stuck in a bin in Aberdeen. Willie had dropped his bunnet into the bin with some rubbish and then became trapped as he stuck his head in to see where it was.

Luckily, he was successfully freed by fire fighters and has now recovered from his ordeal.

It’s amazing how many people are reported to have had accidents by getting stuck in small places – it’s easy to judge on the grounds of common sense. As said by Mark Twain, “the sad thing about common sense is that it is not that common”.

Health and safety consultants with an overzealous approach may look at this incident as one that should have been avoided if strict Health and Safety had been applied. Should Aberdeen Council have risk assessed the possible event of a member of the public putting their head in the bin? Should manufacturers of the bin have considered the average size of a person’s head when designing the dimensions of the opening? Should warnings signs stating ‘Do not put head in bin’ have been displayed to prevent Willie Middleton coming to grief as he did?

Any person who took a reasonable would think such suggestions overkill - a load of rubbish even. Health and Safety has a very important role to play but we, like poor Willie, must be careful not to lose our heads!
Victoria Hepworth (Solicitor - Birkenhead office)

Monday, 1 October 2012

Is it fair to blame the HSE for the demise of ice cream vans?

There has been a recent article in the Daily Express partly blaming health and safety bosses for the demise of the ice cream vans.

The article states that Councils have put the ice cream sellers into meltdown by banning vans from certain areas because of concerns about childhood obesity. Other authorities have limited how long vans can sound their chimes over concerns about noise pollution.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) chair Judith Hackitt has responded with an article headed Don't use health and safety as an excuse to give us a licking, where she commented that she felt they were taking the blame for over protective parents, child obesity, noisy jingles and bad weather.

It is clear that Britain’s ice cream vans are stalling their way into a winter of discontent and towards an uncertain future in which they face becoming as endangered as milk floats. However not all of which can be blamed on health and safety regulations.

Long list of expenses for ice cream sellers including insurance and trade licences together with soaring petrol prices have helped drive a flake into the heart of an industry already on its knees.

Stuart Whitby, managing director of Whitby Morrison, the UKs largest manufacturer of ice cream vans has said “Street vending has dramatically changed. Supermarkets are selling ice cream far more cheaply than ice cream vans can, every corner shop and garage forecourt has an ice cream freezer.”

In my view, taking the above into account, it is clear a number of factors have affected this particular trade and the blame cannot simply be put on the HSE. What we need to bear in mind, is that although your average ice cream vendor is struggling with his trade, many other industries are in the same position. Families might not have thought twice about buying their children an ice cream in the boom times, but now with most peoples finances having taken a whipping, they are thinking twice.
Mofozzul Hussain (Solicitor/Office Manager)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Health and Safety inspection cut for thousands of firms has been criticised.

Recent decision for hundreds of thousands of businesses to be exempted from health and safety inspections under regulatory changes unveiled by the Government has been criticised by trade unions and safety groups.

Shops, offices, pubs and clubs will no longer face the workplace checks from April 2013, ministers have announced.

In future, businesses should only face health and safety inspections if they are operating in higher risk areas such as construction or if they have an incident or a track record of poor performance.

In addition, the Government has said that it will introduce legislation next month to ensure that businesses will only be held liable for civil damages in health and safety cases if they can be shown to have acted negligently. This will end the current situation where businesses can automatically be liable for damages even if they were not actually negligent.

The reforms are part of government plans to scrap or overhaul 3,000 regulations to ease the burden on UK firms. Business secretary Vince Cable said “Removing unnecessary red tape and putting common sense back into areas like health and safety will reduce fears and costs for businesses,” he said. “We want to help give British business the confidence it needs to create more jobs and support the wider economy to grow.”

The TUC have warned that the decision could put the health of UK employees at risk.

TUC’s general secretary, Brendan Barber stated “Health and safety regulation is not a burden on business, it is a basic protection for workers....Cutting back on regulation and inspections will lead to more injuries and deaths as a result of poor safety at work.”

It is clear some of the ‘low risk’ workplaces identified by the Government, such as shops, actually experience high levels of workplace injuries. This will only get worse if the regulations are eroded by the Governments decision and the employers find it easier to ignore safety risks which may ultimately lead to a rise in personal injury claims – something we are sure the workplaces, their insurers or the Government will not want to see.
Mofozzul Hussain LLB (Hons) -Office Manager (Birkenhead) and Personal Injury Solicitor

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Adopting a balanced approach: NOT taking the joy out of playtime.

Misguided “jobsworths” have turned playgrounds into joyless no-go zones and risk harming children’s education for fear of being sued, the chairman of the Health and Safety Executive, Miss Judith Hackitt, has warned.

It has been said that too often regulations were wrongly cited as an excuse, when the true reason included cost cutting and the creeping culture of risk aversion and fear of litigations, when denying youngsters the chance to have fun outdoors.

Miss Hackitt highlighted a litany of what she called “daft decisions” in recent years which has included ordering children to wear goggles to play conkers and banning running at a pancake race.

The HSE has worked with the Play Safety Forum to produce a joint statement that gives clear messages tackling any misunderstandings.

The statement makes clear that Play is important for children’s well-being and development and when planning and providing play opportunities, the goal is not to eliminate risk, but to weigh up the risks and benefits. It also highlights that accidents and mistakes happen during play – but fear of litigation and prosecution has been blown out of proportion

Miss Hackitt has sent a message to employers and other organisations “own your own decisions...Don’t use health and safety law as a convenient scapegoat or we will challenge you.”

Mofozzul Hussain LLB (Hons) -Office Manager (Birkenhead) and Personal Injury Solicitor