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Tristan Hallam: The bandwagon rolls on

By Principal Lawyer, Occupiers and Public Liability

The most simple concept which everyone learns right at the very start of carrying out personal injury is work is that 2 things have to apply before you have any remote chance of obtaining compensation. The first is liability. You have to establish that a party is at fault, legally at fault in causing the accident. In simple terms, if I am sitting at the traffic lights waiting for the traffic lights to turn green in my favour and someone drives into the back of me, it is entirely their fault. The second issue is what is known as causation. Using therefore the same scenario, I am sitting at the traffic lights, someone drives into the back of me, shunts me forward a few feet and I sustain a whiplash injury. Hardly surprising in the circumstances.
 
I am the innocent party. The only way that I can be compensated is by way of damages. We cannot turn back the clock and I therefore bring an action against the driver who drove into the back of me who holds his hands up, admits liability for the accident and his insurance company step in. His insurance company admit liability at an early stage. Quite right too since their insured who they must indemnify, caused the accident and there was no fault on my part. Pausing there for a moment. Does the Commons Transport Select Committee really mean to say as they appear to have done recently, that in the above scenario, an insurance company then pays out, paying me some £5,000.00 for example simply by my establishing that I was involved in an accident involving their insured? Surely they are not that

Surely they are not that niave ? Surely an experienced insurance company will want some evidence that I sustained an injury ?... and therein lies the issues as far as causation is concerned! In all personal injury matters save perhaps for the most minor (such as a bruised finger for example), medical evidence is required to establish the extent of any injuries sustained and my lawyer acting for me in my claim would need to obtain a report either from a GP where the injury is relatively modest or indeed from a consultant orthopaedic surgeon who will need to assess my position before the accident, whether I was fit and healthy and symptom free, look at my GP notes, look at any hospital notes, x-rays etc and decide to what extent I sustained an injury as a result of the accident. And if I continue to complain of symptoms some time after the accident, to what extent those symptoms are due to the accident and would not on balance have occurred had it not been for the accident. I fail therefore to understand what the Commons Transport Select Committee mean by suggesting that stricter rules on the diagnosis of whiplash injuries should apply, requiring objective evidence from an expert and proof of a ‘significant’ effect on the Claimant’s life before compensation is paid out. It is fair to say that we already have in place a system which requires expert evidence. We have had this system for donkey’s years but what tell me does the word ‘significant’ actually mean. Does it mean that if I suffer whiplash symptoms for a period of 6 months which prevents me picking up my 6 month old child, helping around the house and requiring me to have a month off work since I operate a crane

And if I continue to complain of symptoms some time after the accident, to what extent those symptoms are due to the accident and would not on balance have occurred had it not been for the accident. I fail therefore to understand what the Commons Transport Select Committee mean by suggesting that stricter rules on the diagnosis of whiplash injuries should apply, requiring objective evidence from an expert and proof of a ‘significant’ effect on the Claimant’s life before compensation is paid out. It is fair to say that we already have in place a system which requires expert evidence.

We have had this system for donkey’s years but what tell me does the word ‘significant’ actually mean. Does it mean that if I suffer whiplash symptoms for a period of 6 months which prevents me picking up my 6 month old child, helping around the house and requiring me to have a month off work since I operate a crane and therefore would have difficulty climbing up to the cab, count as significant? Or does it mean that I have to spend at least 6 months off work before my injury is classed as ‘significant’ ! One ponders whether the sweeping statement from the Commons Transport Select Committee was in fact given any consideration before it was made. I appreciate that Select Committees are there to have an overview and take an objective view of a particular set of circumstances. They certainly have their place, however off the cuff remarks without any basis whatsoever leave me very bemused indeed.I

They certainly have their place, however off the cuff remarks without any basis whatsoever leave me very bemused indeed.I thought in addition, that Select Committees are meant to be objective. They are made up of those from all political spectrums yet somehow I get the feeling that they have jumped on the current compensation bandwagon. A lack of objectivity in such circumstances is not good. Look for example at what it happening in Hungry at the moment where I understand that 200 Judges have been forced into early retirement and replaced with nominees of a single political appointed individual. This is on the back of the Hungarian government placing restrictions on the media, the arts, churches, central bank as well as seizure of significant private pension assets. I have said before that controlling the judiciary is an extreme step towards a dictatorship and one certainly hopes that a former East European Soviet bloc member is not taking a large step back in time. Tristan Hallam is a partner in Personal Injury in the London office of Russell Jones & Walker.If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our

They certainly have their place, however off the cuff remarks without any basis whatsoever leave me very bemused indeed.I thought in addition, that Select Committees are meant to be objective. They are made up of those from all political spectrums yet somehow I get the feeling that they have jumped on the current compensation bandwagon. A lack of objectivity in such circumstances is not good. Look for example at what it happening in Hungry at the moment where I understand that 200 Judges have been forced into early retirement and replaced with nominees of a single political appointed individual. This is on the back of the Hungarian government placing restrictions on the media, the arts, churches, central bank as well as seizure of significant private pension assets. I have said before that controlling the judiciary is an extreme step towards a dictatorship and one certainly hopes that a former East European Soviet bloc member is not taking a large step back in time. Tristan Hallam is a partner in Personal Injury in the London office of Russell Jones & Walker.

If you or a member of your family has suffered an accident or injury call our expert personal injury solicitors on 0800 916 9046, fill in our short online claim form or email enquiries@slatergordon.co.uk and one of our specialist personal injury team will review your compensation claim for free.

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