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Latest compensation news from WinWales

Myths about injury compensation

20 February 2015

Produced jointly by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Trades Union Congress.

Personal injury compensation is the subject of much myth and misunderstanding. APIL fights negative perceptions when possible, and actively tries to educate the public about the difference between a simple accident, which can never result in a successful claim, and negligence which causes injuries which could have been avoided.

The Compensation Myth is a joint document with the TUC, aimed at setting the record straight on seven common misunderstandings about the compensation system.

The Compensation Myth

It is common to hear stories of the “compensation culture” or claims that Britain is becoming “risk averse” as a result of people claiming compensation.

In May 2013 the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling said that recent changes to the way claims are dealt with “will not be the end of the Government's work to tackle the growth of compensation culture”. The DWP website also claims “a damaging compensation culture is stifling innovation and growth.”

The truth is very different. In fact there is no compensation culture. Even people asked to look at it by the Government have concluded that it is a problem of perception – in other words a myth. Lord Young, in his report on health and safety said. “The problem of the compensation culture prevalent in society today is …… one of perception rather than reality.” While Professor Lofsted, who was also asked to review health and safety by the government said “The ‘compensation culture’ (or the perception of it) in the UK has been the subject of several reviews over the last few years, but no evidence has been presented for its existence”.

In this report the TUC and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers examines 7 myths around compensation in the workplace:

Myth 1
Workers are too ready to claim compensation

The simple truth is that, despite what the press and politicians may claim, workplace claims have halved in the last ten years. Government figures show that there has been a fall from 183,342 claims in 2002/03 to 91,115 in 2012/13.

Despite this the Government is making it even harder for workers to claim compensation after they are injured or made ill because of the negligence of their employer by changing the law in favour of the employer by changing the burden of proof.

Even those who win a case will be affected by additional costs. In the past, the cost of bringing a claim was met by the wrongdoer – now, a significant part of that cost will be borne by the victim. Even if they win, they face a cut in damages of up to 25% to cover legal fees which, in the past would have been paid by the guilty party. So, not only have workplace claims actually fallen, but the process of claiming compensation has become tougher.

Myth 2
Compensation claims are spiralling out of control

Six out of every seven workers who are injured or made ill through work get no compensation at all. Each year around half a million people are made ill as a result of their job and a further 110,000 are injured. The most common injuries are musculoskeletal disorders such as back injury or repetitive strain injury (RSI), injuries from slips and falls, skin diseases, and deafness. Many people will get better, some will not. Over 25,000 people are forced to give up work every year as a result of work-related injuries or illness.

However the number who gain compensation from their employer is around 90,000 a year. A further 20,000 will make a successful claim for industrial injuries benefit, which is a government funded “no fault” scheme.

Myth 3
Compensation payments are too high

According to an analysis of nearly 64,000 claims in 2011, the majority of workplace damages paid to injured workers are for less than £5,000 and around 75 per cent of cases are for damages of less than £10,000.

Unlike in some other countries, compensation is strictly based on what the claimant has lost. Payments are based on guidelines and evidence and are designed to compensate for actual loss, including pain and suffering, loss of earnings and future losses, all of which are very carefully calculated. Future losses can include future loss of earnings, pension loss, cost of care, medical treatment, and accommodation and vehicle adaptations. Where the victim has died, bereavement damages, funeral expenses and dependency claims would be considered.

Very occasionally there are settlements of over £250,000. These are, however, the minority of cases and relate to people who have been very badly injured, people who may require permanent around-the-clock care for many years and will probably never work again. Often they will have lost the use of their limbs and/or be significantly brain-damaged.

These damages are not a gift or a windfall for the injured individual and his family: every case is calculated to the penny with the sole aim of putting claimants as far as it is ever possible back to the position they were in before being needlessly injured.

Litigation can be a difficult and stressful process for all concerned, and injured people often express the view that all they want to do is wind the clock back to a time before the injury and to put their lives back on track.

Myth 4
Compensation is paid for any old accident

In today's society, many people think it is possible to sue for compensation whenever there's an accidental mishap, and that damages are just dished out automatically by the courts. This is not the case.

For a claim to be successful the injured party has to prove that the other party has been negligent, and this can be incredibly difficult. For negligence to have taken place the incident must have been foreseeable and the actions or inactions of the defendant must have led to the injury.

Proving an employer has been negligent can be particularly difficult for an employee. Employers always have the upper hand as they are the ones who control the workplace and the work equipment, and who hold all the information about systems in place. This difficulty was recognised by the courts more than a century ago, and the legal process changed to reflect this so that, if an employer caused an injury by breaching health and safety regulations, the employee could rely on that breach as the basis of his case.

The Government has now turned the clock back, in favour of employers, by changing the law to require the claimant to prove the employer was negligent, which is much more difficult.

So, not only is compensation not available for an accident but, where there has been negligence, it is likely to be even harder to obtain than it was in Victorian times, because of this change in the law.

There's a strong likelihood that many injured workers will be put off from making claims for compensation for their injuries entirely, allowing many negligent employers to avoid making amends, and leaving the state to pick up the tab for medical care and any benefits arising from the injury.

Myth 5
It is unfair that insurance companies should have to pay out for diseases such as asbestos-related diseases where they could not have known the risks.

The insurance market is about assessing risk, pricing premiums accordingly, investing premiums collected, and hoping that the risks don’t become a reality. If the employer can show that he could not have known that there was a risk then he will not be liable for damages. For example, claims for hearing loss can only be brought for damage caused after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) produced guidance on this in 1963.

There have been health and safety controls on the use of asbestos since 1931, and the risks have been known across the industry since the 1940s. Despite the known dangers many employers continued to use it, and even now too many fail to take adequate care where asbestos is present in their workplaces. Around 2,000 people are year are dying from the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma, usually from exposure to asbestos many decades ago.

All these deaths would have been avoidable if the industry had protected its workforce. The insurers insured these companies, and took their premiums, despite the knowledge that exposure was occurring and that many would die. There is no reason why these workers should be denied compensation just because the exposure took place many years ago. The insurers were happy to take the risk and should meet their obligations. There is no justification for the taxpayer having to pay the bill.

The insurers took their premiums, despite the knowledge that exposure was occurring and that many would die. They were happy to take the risks and should meet their obligations: there is no justification for the taxpayer having to pay the bill.

Myth 6
Many of these cases would not be taken if unions did not encourage their members to claim

One of the main aims of unions is to prevent members becoming ill or injured through their work. That is where most of their focus goes. However, if a member is injured through the negligence of the employer and suffers financial loss, then the union should advise the employee about his rights if requested to do so. The prospect of compensation claims is a major factor in ensuring that employers protect the health and safety of workers.

Unions offer high quality legal services that are tailored for speedy resolutions of claims. At the same time, unlike a claims company, the lawyers will work with the union to try to ensure that the employer takes action so that the cause of the illness or injury is not repeated.

Myth 7
Lawyers often drag these cases on unnecessarily to keep their costs up.

Solicitors have a professional duty to act in the best interests of their clients. This includes not dragging out cases simply to increase their costs without falling foul of their regulatory body. That duty notwithstanding, it is important to note that most personal injury cases now go through a new claims procedure, in which legal costs which can be incurred by the claimant are fixed. For workplace claims worth between £10,000 and £25,000 the maximum cost which can be incurred is £1,600. Lawyers have absolutely nothing to gain by dragging cases out.

Costs could be reduced still further if defendants, when liable, were to admit liability early. The failure of employers and insurers to do this also has other adverse effects. It means that early treatment and proper rehabilitation for the victim cannot always be offered when it is most needed. This means the condition may become worse and the chance of recovery greatly reduced.

Three truths.....

The compensation bill can be cut:

if employers stop acting negligently and stop killing and injuring workers. The insurance companies can help here by linking the premiums much more closely to the actual risk within specific workplaces. Insurance companies should more readily offer risk-based premiums that reflect an employer's health and safety history. Good health and safety should be rewarded.

If, when someone is injured or made ill through work the employer ensures the employee has early access to proper rehabilitation. This means the worker will be more likely to make a full or early recovery. Rehabilitation must not, however, be used as a stick to beat the claimant with, to force the claimant to accept an offer or return to work early. It must only be used as a means of enabling an injured person to cope again either with work, or with family, domestic life and society.

if insurance companies admit liability (where justified) early and follow court rules so that costly medical and legal bills are not run up.

Cleaner injured in fall awarded £4,600 compensation

10 January 2015

Paul Strange, a technical services operator, was asked to clean a large bread oven at Premier Foods’ Avonmouth bakery. However, there was not a ladder or other safe means of access down onto the oven floor. In order to gain access, Paul had to climb over the oven wall and use a crankshaft fitted to the wall for support. 

In doing so, Paul slipped from the crankshaft and fell heavily onto the floor with his left shoulder taking the brunt of the fall. As a result, he suffered ligament damage to his shoulder and a soft tissue injury to his left wrist. While Paul made a full recovery, his injuries meant that he was absent from work for two months.

Paul Strange said: “The fall was very painful and it took months for me to get full movement back in my wrist. This could have been avoided if the bakery had just given me the right equipment to get into the oven in the first place.”

Ronnie Draper, general secretary at BFAWU, said: “There can be no complacency when it comes to an individual working at height, and it is vital that employers provide the correct equipment to ensure the safety of their staff. It’s irresponsible of Premier Foods to let a member of their staff carry out this task knowing that there wasn’t the right facilities in place. 

“As a result of their negligence, our member suffered a personal injury that impacted upon his work and personal life.”

Shopper compensated after slip accident at supermarket

10 January 2015

A woman has successfully pursued an injury compensation claim after being injured in an accident at a supermarket.  The lady was visiting her local supermarket and was walking along one of the freezer aisles when she slipped on a pool of water which had been left on the floor.

She fell and suffered a painful soft-tissue injury to her lower back as well as damaging her knee. She sought medical help but took a year to fully recover from her injuries.

Following the accident, she contacted specialist personal injury solicitors to pursue a claim on her behalf.  Their investigation identified a witness who had helped our client after her fall.

The witness had seen a member of the supermarket staff notice the water on the floor before the accident but who had - rather than use a mop to clear the hazard - attempted unsuccessfully to clean up the water with pieces of cardboard.

The supermarket initially ignored the claim, but after a Court application was made, liability was admitted and injury compensation was secured. 

Can you claim compensation for an injury suffered on holiday?

16 November 2014

If you’ve had an injury abroad whilst on holiday, you may not know that you can still make a claim.   And not only that, you probably don’t even need to use overseas lawyers - your claim can often be resolved here in Wales.

If you’ve gone away on a package holiday, it’s most likely that it will be covered under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992.   And whilst holidays usually go smoothly, there are also occasions when they don’t.

Whilst, as a holiday maker, you should take reasonable care, there are many circumstances beyond your control that could lead to injury.   Poorly maintained equipment in hotels or on tours and activities can lead to all kinds of incidents.  As can dangerous areas around swimming pools and play areas, where unsafe paving can cause people to trip.  Food poisoning is also a distressing experience some people experience.  Poor food hygiene and a lack of suitable refrigeration can make this all too common a problem in hot climates.

If injuries do occur, be sure to receive medical attention, report the incident to the holiday company, hotel or airline, and take photographs of anything that can show what happened.

How to claim if you've had a car accident: Crashes on 20mph roads are up by a quarter since 2013 - Daily Mirror Article

09 November 2014

Road accidents are common, however, we tend to associate car crashes with people speeding on open roads and the motorways.

But in fact, it’s the 20mph roads that are the most dangerous with accidents in these areas having increased by 26% since last year.

The number of serious accidents has risen by over a quarter, according to government data by road safety charity, Institute of Advanced Motorists.

Casualties in 20mph zones - which are common where there are schools - are also on the rise, having increased by 29%.

Meanwhile, slight accidents on 20mph roads increased by 17%.

Thirty miles per hour road accidents however, are in decline with a recorded decrease in the number of serious and slight accidents on 30 and 40mph roads.

Serious accidents are down 9% on 30mph roads and 7% on 40mph roads.

Simon Best, chief executive at independent road safety charity IAM said: "The government and councils need to take stock on the effectiveness of 20mph signs.

"Recent advice, guidance and relaxation of regulations has all been about making it easier for councils to put 20mph limits in place.

"More and more roads are being given a 20mph limit but they do not seem to be delivering fewer casualties.

"The IAM are concerned that this is because simply putting a sign on a road that still looks like a 30mph zone does not change driver behaviour.

"In locations with a proven accident problem, authorities need to spend more on changing the character of our roads so that 20mph is obvious, self-enforcing and above all contributes to fewer injuries.

Can you make a claim?

If you've been involved in a car accident, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you with any compensation claims.

Compensation law is complicated for outsiders, but experienced solicitors make claims easy and will do much of the work for you.

Broken-leg girl receives £10,000 after climbing wall accident

09 November 2014

A mobile climbing wall company has paid £10,000 in accident compensation after being found to have improperly supervised a minor who was climbing without a safety rope.

After climbing to the top of the wall, 15 year-old Jade Raynor, let go in order to drop back down - not realising that the supervisor hadn’t attached the safety line to her harness.  The fall resulted in a nasty fracture.

Jade said: “The accident has really affected me. I used to dance and play football and I can’t do those things anymore. I still have a lot of pain in my leg and back, but the company never acknowledged or apologised for what happened.”

The company denied accident liability throughout, but it was clear that it was in the wrong.   Jade’s solicitor commented  “the fact that the company failed to keep Jade properly secured at all times is clearly irresponsible, and resulted in a child being put at risk of very serious harm.”

Your step by step guide to claiming compensation for a pavement trip or fall - Daily Mirror article

17 October 2014

Tripping on a broken pavement usually causes little more than a grazed knee - for some though, it can result in broken bones or worse - here's how to claim.....

Part of the council's job is to keep public spaces safe and in good condition

Have you ever walked over broken or uneven paving slabs and thought "there's an accident waiting to happen"?

Well, count yourself lucky as chances are, someone else won’t see it.

We tend to think of tripping on a loose or raised paving stone as something that happens to the elderly or frail - those who aren't so steady on their feet.  But the facts don't bear this out.

Fortunately, tripping and falling on a broken or uneven pavement usually causes little more than a grazed knee and a bruised ego.

For some, it can result in broken bones, muscle damage and other serious injuries.

One of the main jobs of local councils is to keep public spaces in good repair, safe and fit for purpose.

So if you suffer an injury from their failure to do this, then you can make a compensation claim.

How to make a successful claim...

1. Check the details

The surface defect that caused the accident must be reasonably serious.

As a rule of thumb, the raised paving stone or pothole needs to measure a minimum of an inch to be considered for compensation. Smaller defects do cause accidents, but the law tends not to hold councils responsible.

2. You only have three years

Secondly, if you want to make a claim, you need to do so within 3 years of the accident.

3. Is it 'reasonably serious'?

It must have caused a reasonably serious injury – a grazed knee that heals up after a week or two probably won't get much sympathy from a judge.

4. Keep everything

It's essential that you see a doctor immediately, that all your injuries are recorded, and that you get a certificate for any time you need off work.

Collect as much evidence of the accident as you can.

Take photographs of the scene - place a coin or box of matches next to the defect to show how big it is in comparison.

Make a note of the weather conditions, street lighting and so on - anything that might have contributed to your fall.

Try and get the names and contact details of any witnesses, and write a letter to your local council to report the accident, keeping a copy for your records.

Can you claim?

Your claim is not guaranteed to succeed, though, even if you have a serious fall and you do all these things.

Your claim can be rejected if the council can prove that they have a good system in place to inspect the pavement, and they have carried out these inspections on a regular basis.

An experienced lawyer knows how to challenge this kind of defence, and can greatly improve your chances of a successful claim.

(Daily Mirror article)

Britain's Most Dangerous Jobs – Daily Telegraph Article

27 September 2014

Some of the jobs which cause the most fatalities and injuries in the UK are not the ones you might usually expect. 


In the UK builders are putting themselves at risk - 39 people died in the construction industry between 2012 and 2013, the majority of them by falling from a height. According to the Guardian it is the most dangerous sector in the country, with more construction workers killed on British sites since 2001 than British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan in the same period. 

Rubbish collector

It is an unpleasant job, but being a bin man also carries risks. Ten people died collecting, treating and disposing of waste between 2012 and 213 according to the Health and Safety Executive's latest figures. The industry has a fatality rate of 7.8 per 100,000 employees. 


Agriculture, forestry and fishing is the riskiest industrial sector; accounting for approximately one in five fatal injuries to workers. Of the 29 workers fatally injured between 2012 and 2013 almost half were farmers, while another 17 per cent were hired hands in the industry. Five of these were killed by animals, while five more died by drowning or asphyxiation. 


There are only three remaining deep pit coal mines in the UK but this once thriving industry is still a threat to workers. Between 2012 and 2013 there were two deaths and more than 150 injuries in the mining and quarrying industry. Due to the industry's small size, the fatality rate is the highest in the country at 9.6 per 100,000 employees. 


While there were no fatal injuries in the retail industry between 2012 and 2013, there were 1619 "major injuries" in the sector with almost 7,000 injuries reported in total. For some shopkeepers it can be a risky business especially when criminals attack.


Car salesmen and mechanics are at risk in their jobs with eight deaths recorded between 2012 and 2013 and nearly 300 major injuries.



Education is the most injury prone sector according to the HSA with 1,736 people reporting non-fatal major injuries between 2012 and 2013, although there were no reported deaths in that period. 


It may seem unlikely but one person was killed between 2012 and 2013 in the "libraries, archives, museums and other cultural activities industry". There were also 46 non-fatal major injuries. 

Estate agent

It might seem to be a sedate career path, but the HSE say that four people died in the rental and leasing activities industry between 2012 and 2013, with 70 people suffering from major, but non-fatal, injuries in the same period

Showing 9 - 16 of 72 Articles

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