Archive for the ‘Personal Injury’ Category
Last week at my local supermarket, whilst browsing through a colourful and interesting array of new fruits that had just arrived, I found myself reeling and the next thing I recall was grabbing onto a side shelf to stop myself from falling and sustaining an injury. I looked down to see what had caused me to slip and noticed that the floor seemed a little wet. Luckily the store wasn’t very busy at the time and I saved myself from a potentially embarrassing moment by avoiding a fall and a potentially serious injury.
As an accident injury lawyer, my immediate instinct was to look around and see whether there were any warning signs out on display. Surprisingly there were none. I immediately alerted the staff to clean up the hazard and thankfully no one was injured as a result of the wet patch. However many people are not as lucky as I was. Many clients of mine have suffered various bodily injuries from sprains to serious fractures of the limbs and back injuries, some with serious debilitating consequences.
Having an accident injury which was caused by slipping on a substance, liquid or item of fruit on a supermarket floor generally gives you grounds to make a claim for compensation. Whilst not every fall results in a compensation payment, here is some advice on what you should be aware of and the pitfalls to be avoided.
Supermarkets today stock a wide variety of products boasting aisles laden with various goods. There are many potential risks for the unsuspecting shopper. Spillages, stray trolleys, unstable shelving and heavy cages are also common hazards for members of the public and staff.
By law, a Supermarket must make sure that anyone who goes into their store is kept reasonably safe. They manage potential hazards by preparing risk assessments. If you have suffered an accident injury, I normally ask the supermarket to show me their risk assessment documents. This how I check if they have taken all proper steps to control those risks in accordance with health and safety law.
When I make an assessment, I try to imagine all the different types of store user including children, adults, persons with disabilities, those using walking aids, the vulnerable and the elderly. I try to put myself in their shoes and view life from their perspective.
There are many risks in a store to consider, some obvious, some not so obvious. For example, mats should be provided at entrances, so in wet or damp weather, people who enter the store aren’t creating a slipping risk for others. If the floor is wet from rain or spillage, there should be clear and visible “caution – wet floor” signs to alert shoppers to the danger. Cleaning schedules should be maintained to show that the floor is kept clean.
Generally, most supermarkets do maintain good records and cleaning schedules. Early access to these after you have suffered an injury is vital to assess whether the accident could have been avoided. The store is very likely to be held responsible if they knew there was a hazard and they did not take suitable steps to stop it from occurring. Early disclosure and photographs are essential to any accident injury claim. Lack of documentary evidence can mean a failed claim.
If you suffer an accident injury – What do you do?
Despite the best of endeavours by a Supermarket store to keep the place safe, when an accident does occur, we recommend the following:
- Remember that above all else, your safety is paramount.
- Take prompt action.
- Staff will be at hand and you should ask for a first aider to help you.
- If the injury is serious, ask the store to call you an ambulance.
- If there is a suspected fracture, head or back injury, do not under any circumstances move.
- If anyone saw the accident, write down their name telephone number and address.
- Take a photograph of where you fell if you can.
- Ask the Store Manager or the member of staff for the Accident report book.
- Follow up with the Supermarket store after the accident and find out if they have sent off the accident injury report to head office.
At Saracens, we have many years of expertise in this area of law and have successfully settled claims where there has been an accident injury at a supermarket.
If you have had an accident injury in a Supermarket or want to share your experience of what happened to you when you fell in a store or injured in any other way write to us here. We will offer you a free consultation and advise you on your rights.
Personal Injury Department
This time of year is never the same without the traditional pre-Diwali rituals, cooking delicacies, family gatherings as well as prayers for peace and goodwill.
More and more of us celebrate the end of the Puja or the start of the New Year with fantastic displays of fireworks. Everyone loves a traditional firework display. I will be doing the same with my family this year.
However, we want you to be safe from danger and in particular personal injury, so make sure that before you wave that alluring sparkler or stand extra close to a colorful display, you avoid any potential firework injury this Diwali.
Safety is paramount on nights like these and below I offer you some guidance on how you can ensure your safety and that of your family so that you can all celebrate in a safe enjoyable way.
Nowadays, more time and funds are applied by by local authorities in educating those of us who use fireworks in order to ensure that everyone is safe and unharmed. I personally experienced this commitment to health and safety at the recent Navratri Celebrations, where the event organisers warned everyone to keep their distance from the Deeva (candle lights) while the prayers were carried out. Thankfully, there were no injuries reported during Navratri.
Nonetheless, it is not uncommon for revelers to end up with a firework injury , often sustained from dodgy fireworks, carelessness or poor organisation at Diwali events. The numbers of those being injured are on the increase.
Suffering fireworks injuries can have shocking effects on you and your family, especially if it happens at a time of celebration. Sometimes the injury is non-reversible, with permanent skin scarring caused by burns.
I have noticed that more and more families now have garden firework parties at home and I would advise that safety be made paramount on the agenda.
Societies and groups will be holding displays to celebrate Diwali right up to the forthcoming weekend. We recommend joining an organised fireworks display as the best way to minimise the risk of any potential firework injury . Nowadays, most event managers comply strictly with the health and safety executive’s guidelines.
Traditionalists though, will opt for fireworks that you can buy for use in the back-garden. Here are some “do’s and don’ts” when using fireworks at home so as to avoid a firework injury :
• Always purchase the fireworks from a licensed or recognised venue and check that they follow the Kite Mark health and safety standards. Whilst in itself this does not prevent firework injuries from occurring, at least the products have been tested and are considered generally as being safe.
• It may be stating the obvious, but aside from sparklers, don’t hold a lit firework and certainly do not throw it. If you see anyone doing so, clearly there is a high risk of firework injuries . Don’t take the law into your own hands, instead call the police.
• Always follow the “firework code”. There is one published annually by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Search online for the most up to date copy.
• If you suffer a firework injury always seek immediate medical help. You should attend hospital straight away especially if the injury is to the skin or eyes as burns in particular, left unattended, will likely lead to more permanent scaring.
• If the incident takes place at an organised function / event and if you, or if a friend is able, take photographs of the area where the incident occurred. Report the matter to the onsite fire safety officer or a health and safety representative.
During this festive time, do take care of your personal welfare.
If you think that the accident could have been avoided in any way or that it was anyone else’s fault, I would recommend that you seek legal advice about your eligibility to claim .
At Saracens , our legal team has many years of experience in helping victims of firework injuries and burns, to achieve the maximum compensation they are entitled to.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very safe, happy and peaceful Diwali. I hope everyone has an enjoyable time with their friends, family and close ones.
In the unlikely event that you or your loved ones sustain a firework injury this Diwali or any time in the past three years; contact me at Saracens on 0203 588 3530 and I will help you claim what you are due.
In the meantime, Happy Diwali.
More and more of us are using fireworks when celebrating a special event. We associate fireworks with fun and enjoyment and more so now given that Bonfire Night is just around the corner. This is the time of year that most of us will be either using fireworks or attending spectacular displays to the watch them.
However, before you light up that glitzy sparkler or turn to watch the magnificent brocades and floral patterns paint the sky, always remember to play it safe to avoid being injured by fireworks. Whether you are at home with family or friends or part of the crowd at your local display, always remember to put safety first as a preventative measure to avoid being injured by fireworks.
Every year, despite strenuous efforts by local authorities to improve on firework health and safety, many people are still being injured by fireworks and the numbers are on the increase. I have found that increasingly, it is not just children who are injured by fireworks, but adults too. As a lawyer, the type of injuries that I have seen include minor burns, major burns that require skin grafting and urgent medical attention, eye injuries, face, hair and scalp damage, psychological distress, loss of vision and even loss of life.
Being injured by fireworks can have a devastating effect on your life and in some instances the permanent nature of the scarring can have a significant, life altering impact. Many of my clients who have fireworks injuries often complain of psychological injuries as well as the physical injuries I have described above.
Whilst most firework display organisers will follow the health and safety executive’s guidelines and have insurance cover in case of any nasty accidents, others may not be that organised. Under current legislation, there is no mandatory obligation on organisations to have insurance cover that will protect you if you are injured by fireworks although thankfully, many still do.
Many of my clients have been injured by fireworks in the relative safety of their own home. Injuries often occur in back gardens as a result of a misfiring firework or a failure to read the instructions properly or even a lack of proper instruction on the firework.
If you are planning to have your own event at home, maybe in your back garden, I recommend that you be wary of buying fireworks sold in unlicensed outlets or on the internet. Put the safety of your family first. Fireworks may be cheaper online or if you are buying them from abroad but not all countries insist on the strict standards applied in the U.K. so be careful.
Often fireworks may be out of date or do not comply with British or European health and safety standards. Always purchase your fireworks from a specialist fireworks shop and check that the package sold to you is marked with something known as a BS7114 mark or the CE mark. These fireworks are more likely to have been strenuously tested and could minimise the risk of you or your loved ones being injured by fireworks.
Despite following safety guidelines, accidents do still happen. I am happy to give you some guidance about what you can do if you or your friends and family are injured by fireworks.
Firstly, your well-being and safety is paramount.
You should attend a hospital or seek medical attention (at an NHS walk in centre for example) as quickly as possible. Make sure you follow this up with your GP. In particular, if you have been burnt by the firework, it is crucial that you attend to this promptly. If you are able to, take photographs of the injury and if there are any witnesses, note down their details.
If you were injured because someone deliberately threw a firework at you, this could amount to a criminal offence and you should contact the police immediately. You may be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.
If you are injured by fireworks at an organised event, make sure you have full details of the site or venue, a follow up address and a contact number for any safety officer on site.
Remember that if you attend an organised fireworks display event, the event organiser has a legal duty to make sure of the reasonable safety of their visitors. If health and safety guidelines have not been followed or an unsafe environment is present, you may have a right to claim compensation if you are injured by fireworks.
If you have been injured by fireworks through no fault of your own and you purchased fireworks for use in your private garden or at home, you may have a claim against the company which manufactured the fireworks. I recommend that you always retain the receipt of purchase, the packaging and any other instructions that are provided with the box.
I always recommend that you seek legal advice about your entitlement to make a claim. At Saracens Solicitors, our legal team has many years of experience in helping those who have been injured by fireworks. I hope you all have a mischief free and enjoyable time on November 5th but in the event that you or your loved ones are injured by fireworks (or have been injured in the past three years); I will happily advise you on what steps to take next.
Remember remember the 5th of November… Gunpowder treason and plot
Remember remember to keep yourself safe… Kids, adults, the lot
Personal Injury Solicitor
This is the time of year that we all come back to work after several weeks in the sunshine, proudly sharing our holiday photos with our families, friends and colleagues. With the children comfortably back at school, most of us reflect on our memories of the summer holidays. For most of us the memories are joyful ones, yet for thousands of others who have suffered injuries from a holiday accident, this period can be a distressing one of reflection and recuperation.
Any holiday accident can lead to injuries which may linger as not only is there the ruined holiday you are reflecting over but the negative thoughts associated with it, especially if the holiday accident led to involvement with foreign authorities like the police force or even a stay in hospital.
You should be wary of your rights at all times and also be aware that holiday insurance is not your only recourse if you have had an accident whilst on holiday. Here is what you can do:
If you have had an accident or injury abroad (including food poisoning) always act quickly and tell the local on-site holiday agent or tour operator as quickly as possible about what has happened. If there are any witnesses, ask them for their contact details – They may prove to be very useful to you. If your injury is a serious one and has required hospitalisation, always keep a record of which hospital you were admitted to and who treated you there. Then inform your insurers to avoid having to pay out personally for any medical expenses.
Always take photographs/video footage of the place where the accident happened as well as your personal injuries. You can do this nowadays on most modern mobile phones. You may not be going back to the place you had your accident for example; if you have a holiday accident just before your flight home so, you must keep an accurate record of what happened. Whilst you are advised to have adequate holiday accident insurance cover, it is important to be aware of the small print. Very often, financial losses and compensation for the injury is not covered by Insurance so for this you will need to make a separate claim.
The Law in this area is complex and can be tricky for you to unravel as there are many regulations to fall foul of and there is a danger that without proper legal advice, you could become confused and not claim for everything that you are entitled to claim for.
There is some good news though. If you made your holiday booking through a travel agent or online as part of a package deal, then there is a strong chance you can start your claim for your holiday accident through them when you come back to the UK. The specific law to be applied here is the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations (1992). This gives you a right to claim against the UK based holiday company you booked your holiday with i.e. the tour operators.
Saracens has years of experience in dealing with this intricate area of law and we have helped many injured clients who have either been misinformed of their rights or where a holiday accident has led to someone offering them an immediate cash incentive such as vouchers and refunds just to avoid a claim being made. If you have had a holiday accident, do not be lured by such offers. What may seem like a trivial injury when you are many miles away from home, can suddenly transform itself into something much more sinister and critical. Do not under settle your claim by accepting the first offer you receive.
Also, make sure you read your holiday brochure carefully. Does it offer you services to a high standard of safety? Why not make sure that you hold the tour operators to their word?
It may be that a piece of furniture injured you or that you slipped in a bathtub where there was no safe matting. You may have fallen from a tour bus where there were no handrail to help you get to your seat.
Have you had a holiday accident in these ways? The holiday company can be held responsible for poor service so make sure you keep a record for when you return to the UK and always speak to a solicitor for proper legal advice before deciding on what you wish to do.
Here are some more examples of holiday accidents you can claim for:
- Road accidents [If you are involved in a car accident you can claim in the UK, even if the foreign driver does not have insurance]
- Accident as a passenger in a bus or coach or other vehicle.
- Food poisoning
- Cruise boat injuries
- Tripping over a broken or damaged path or floor
- Injuries caused by falling objects.
Whilst these are just some examples, there are many others, such as skiing holiday accidents or accidents involving poor treatment when on holiday.
Always remember, if you have had a holiday accident, don’t be influenced by any company telling you to accept an early payment. You will not know what the value of your claim is unless you have had proper legal advice and have been medically examined.
Have you had any shocking accidents whilst abroad on holiday? We would like to hear from you if you have had such a holiday accident. Why not write to us directly through our website or on Saracens’ facebook? It will only take you a few minutes. Our consultation is free, so you need not have any more nightmares about your holiday accident experience.
Miss Minal Popat
Bradley Wiggins’ sensational triumph at the Tour De France last week is an inspiration to us all and was a high point for the entire nation. Indeed, Wiggins overturned conventional ‘tour wisdom’ that it was a disadvantage to wear the prestigious yellow jersey early on in the tour. He led from the front and his success boils down to his exceptional athletic ability and astute tactical nous as a front runner cyclist. In essence, he successfully broke the mould.
He has brought excitement and momentum to the sport of cycling not just for athletes but also for us keen every day cyclists making our way to and from work, or those of us just generally trying to keep fit. In the UK, cycling has become a phenomenon whose popularity is at fever pitch as a result of the nation’s collective desire to go ‘green’. Like most phenomena, Wiggins is somewhat of a role model. Many of us aspire to be like him and do what he does in the saddle and outside of it.
His magnificent victory for Britain has again raised the question of whether the roads in this country are safe for cyclists. Other road users may be adequately protected but it is clear that cyclists are not. Bradley Wiggins like other cyclists, is not immune to the unpredictability of lurking dangers of what can potentially happen on the roads.
There is no doubt that cyclists are a different kind of ‘animal’ to motorists in terms of their attitude to the environment, personal fitness and social responsibility. I also see a difference between the groups when it comes to each party’s propensity to claim compensation for a cycling injury.
Car drivers and passengers exist in a world where they now claim compensation for the slightest injury whereas cyclists appear to be of ‘hardier’ stock – They contend with multiple dangers, scrapes, falls, knocks, potholes, extreme weather but when compared to car drivers and passengers, they rarely claim compensation for a cycling injury. Should they now start to do this and is this what is needed to force other motorists to take more care around cyclists? I guess the question that I am asking is that if Bradley Wiggins claimed compensation for a cycling injury, would this encourage other cyclists to do the same and in turn force other road users to take more care around cyclists?
Cyclists know of the hidden hazards of being on the open road, from the danger of rear end shunts, car doors unexpectedly opening, cars overtaking without looking in their mirrors; turning lorries and buses. In fact many injured cyclists who end up claiming compensation for a cycling injury are painfully aware of the vulnerability and exposure they face on a daily basis on the roads. There are still comparatively few claims for compensation by them as their culture doesn’t encourage it.
Although road safety campaigns seem to have focused on pedestrian and car user safety, recently there has been a drive by the government to encourage us to ‘get on our bikes’. Whilst this is a bonus for reducing road traffic congestion it has not in any way reduced the number of cycling fatalities and serious injuries.
On the darker side, insurance companies continue to maintain budgets when it comes to dealing with victims who are claiming compensation for a cycling injury, but the number of cyclists suffering injuries is on the increase.
In my many years of private practice advising those who have suffered injuries on the road, I have found that the increasing number of injuries is a proven fact, despite concentrated road safety campaigns and this is finally starting to lead to an increase in accident victims claiming compensation for a cycle injury.
Recently in the news it was announced that there has been a stark 33% rise in pedestrian deaths in just one year and the “highest number of cycling injuries” for a decade. Coincidently the number of cycling fatalities has been on the up since 2005 and at its highest level since 2006.
Although Transport for London have indicated that they are now reviewing cycling safety policies, sadly for a lot of cyclists out there it is a case of “too little too late.” In 2011 there were 3730 cyclist killed or injured on UK roads. Compare this to 2010 when then the department of transport reported 117 cycle deaths alone on British roads.
When victims are claiming compensation for a cycling injury, there are a number of tactics which insurers and Defendants use in order to try to reduce or negate any compensation payable. They will place extra emphasis on whether or not the cyclist was wearing a bicycle helmet, whether appropriate protective footwear and lighting was being used etc… Interestingly, the Highway Code itself does not insist on all these forms of protection being used by a cyclist so these tactics should not put us off from claiming compensation for a cycling injury. Please note that I am not advocating cycling without a crash helmet or alternate protective equipment but asking you to look at the reality of the situation.
Think about it. What difference would the style of helmet used by a cyclist make in the event that he suffers a serious leg injury? Common sense tells us that it is irrelevant. Yet it is a question that insurance companies will still ask. In my experience, lack of helmets or safety wear is the number one argument used by insurance companies to withhold payment of damages when cyclists attempt to claim compensation for a cycling injury.
Insurance companies all too often attempt to use their usual reasoning that a victim who is claiming compensation for a cycling injury, must have caused or contributed to their own pain and suffering by not wearing appropriate safety equipment. It should be remembered that in high speed impact cases, correct use of safety equipment makes little or no difference to the injuries suffered.
Injury claims arising out of cycling accidents are therefore on the increase despite the fact that in many cases, criminal prosecutions are abandoned because of a reluctance to blame car drivers for the injuries.
This can be a complex area of fact and evidence gathering but when claiming compensation for a cycling injury, if one can establish that there has been a degree of negligence by a driver, then more often than not, financial damages will follow. Success in claiming compensation for a cycling injury depends very much on seeking legal advice very quickly. Securing the evidence early and fact gathering is vital as is the choice of experts.
As we live in an era where there are constant articles in the press about injury management companies, lawyers and victims of cycling accidents, quite often victims feel there is a lack of confidence or uncertainty about whom to approach when they start claiming compensation for a cycling injury.
High quality expert forensic and engineering evidence may be needed to determine the precise cause of an accident. Often this is not appreciated by the accident victim so it is vital that they get correct legal advice from the start.
If you are a cyclist and are contemplating claiming compensation for a cycling injury, at Saracens, you will always receive quality legal advice from specialist personal injury lawyers with extensive experience in personal injury.
When claiming compensation for a cycling injury during the course of adventure cycling events organised, for example by a school or employers or by a cycling club, the issue of who is liable (particularly if there are various parties involved) needs early speedy scrutiny. There are technical regulations in place concerning health and safety and you should remember that every effort will be made by whoever it is that you are claiming against to avoid compensating you.
When you are claiming compensation for a cycling injury, professional legal advice will keep you on the right track. Don’t be embarrassed to stand your ground and make a claim. It is your legal right.
That is why although I don’t wish injury upon him, I do believe that someone like Bradley Wiggins, a high profile cyclist making a claim for compensation would send out the right signals to us cyclists and encourage us to do the same. Hopefully it would make the streets of London a safer place for us all.
Last Saturday, amidst a spontaneous snow storm, I was amazed as to how long it took me to get home. A trip that would normally take 30 minutes took almost three and a half hours. It may seem absurd, but unfortunately it seems that as soon as the white stuff lands, the entire infrastructure breaks down.
Is this normal? Do the people in Finland cease to operate for the entire winter? Of course not… This is just one peculiarity that makes life in the UK so unique.
One of my thoughts, as I trekked home that night was the number of likely slips and falls among the public at large. In particular if anyone being so unfortunate would know what to do with regards recourse, including employees who were also out that night earning a living.
One would have thought that the best way of avoiding such slips would be for the government to distribute (in advance) grit on each and every road. The government’s answer to this is that the cost is so immense that the public purse would suffer hugely. Given the current economic climate and of course, if you are not the one who has fallen, one could sympathise…
Most local authorities currently grit around 40% of the main local roads. This in theory means it could cost the government over £1.5 million to grit an estimated 96,000 miles of roads in England.
Adverse weather conditions always bring in a raft of enquiries at the firm, from people suffering injuries after a fall on untreated paths and public places. Most of these claims are directed against owners of private land, employers and local authorities.
This seasonal increase following the slips and falls from adverse weather means that all employers and owners of property have an increased duty of care. They must be astute / alert to ensure their premises and work places are safe.
If a proper risk assessment has not been taken, as we say in law ‘let the owner beware’. If you are an owner of a private business, it is important that you now urgently review your risk assessments. The adverse weather change means you should be aware that there is a higher than normal chance of claims being made by people just outside your premises or even within it should snow or ice accumulate in passageways.
If you are an owner of private land, it is not necessary to clear snow or ice from the highway, which is outside your land, even if part of a local authority highway or road or pavement goes over some of your land. If you decide to shovel snow into a public path (assuming a person claiming knows you have taken such steps) and someone is injured, you may find yourself liable in negligence or nuisance. It is regarded as a public nuisance if you jam up the pavement in front of your property by brushing away the snow accumulations from your property on to a public highway.
The local authority on the other hand does have more responsibility.
It took the case of Goodes v. East Sussex County Council  1 WLR 1356, to bring in some clarification of the law. In this case “Goodes” held that section 41 of the Highways Act did not include a duty to prevent or remove the formation of ice and snow. However, as the law was not clear, the law-makers decided to insert Section 41(1A) into the Highways Act, following on from the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003. The local authority is therefore responsible for clearing ice and snow from the public highway and pavement and to ensure that a safe route along the highway is not put in danger by snow or ice.
However, due to tight budgets, the local authority, can and do prioritise the roads and pavements which they consider should be cleared first. If you are considering a claim of this type please note, the local authority will generally rely on a standard defence that they are not liable, especially where they can show they have prioritised. It will be up to the individual making a claim to prove any negligence.
Thankfully, given the reduced volume of snow in England there have not been any further cases so it is difficult to assess which way the courts would rule in similar scenario’s, but is certainly worth consideration.
If you are an employer, you need to be on alert. You should make sure that you have a system in place for removing risks by clearing any snow and ice particularly from entrances and exits. You must also make sure that you prevent it from becoming slippery again. In short, get your gritting systems sorted out if you haven’t done so already (!).
If you feel that there is a risk to your workers you may be best advised to go back to basics with a shovel and clear the path way of snow / ice. Make sure that the landing and stairs are also clear. The law is likely to otherwise find if your employee walks or passes regularly to access the work place that this is also treated as a part of the work place. Further information on health and safety guidelines may be seen at http://news.hse.gov.uk/2007/01/24/slips-and-trips-in-icy-conditions/
Whilst some dream of snow, by the time you know it people are at risk of being injured. Unless appropriate systems are in place, it is going to be the local authority, the owner or employers insurers who foot the bill.
Ignore the regulations and you do so at your peril!
We live in a litigious society, in a recession and so for this reason, check your household liability insurance for coverage to include injuries to members of the public using your personal footpath.
Clear away the white stuff as soon as and as quickly as possible during the day or prepare in advance at night time if you know of the weather warnings. A refusal or failure to follow what can be termed as this “ice code” may mean that you could end up personally picking up the tab for any slips.
Head of Personal Injury
Photo Credit: Kevin