Should Radical Treatments Be Included In Costs?

In the ever evolving climate of medical science, we are finding new ways to compensate for injuries that heavy affect our life. Amputations for example have evolved from simple wooden replacement limbs to electronic and bionic limbs. Despite being expensive, we ask should these be included in personal injury claim costs?

New, expensive technology to be part of compensation?

Medical Advances

Back in February we looked at the history of prosthetic limbs. The article explored how much we’ve evolved from the first prosthetics, through to bionic devices which are now able to utilise brainwaves to move.

The newest brands of prosthetic limbs are more than simply replacements that look like the real article, they often now look to perform like the real article, and with more time and research could perform like the real article through the use of thought, just like a natural limb.

 

Prosthetics and Injury Claims

In the past, with prosthetic limbs being more primitive and easier to maintain, calculating the cost of the limb and its maintenance would be simple. With such advanced prosthetics available now, solicitors are requiring to think about demanding higher damages in order to give clients the closest possible replacement following an amputation with little to no compromise on the quality.

While the cost of prosthetics are increasing, along with the complexity of them, it is argued that no injury victim deserves compromise when it comes to attempting to put their life back as it was. With an amputation, we cannot replace the natural limb. However, we are able to try to get as close to a natural limb as possible. In the past this would be a wooden replacement. Eventually it became a lifelike plastic limb. In 2016, we have the ability to have a limb that reacts like a natural one.

In a piece for Solicitors Journal, serious injury specialist, Suzanna Trask, wrote “The compensatory nature of damages aims, as far as is possible, to put the claimant back into the position they would have been in, had the negligence not occurred. This means that it is open to the claimant to claim the cost of any available technology or development which an expert reports is likely to help them.”

“A claim should include not only the initial cost, but the price of ongoing maintenance and replacements or further necessary treatment during the life of the claimant.”

 

Is technology necessary?

In each case, the judge holds ultimate decision making power on what they feel to be “reasonable” in order to meet the needs of the injured party. They will be able to decide if a costly, high maintenance new limb is adequate compensation for the damage caused by the defendant.

Porsthetics and personal injury

In any personal injury case, what is considered as reasonable compensation is argued at length,  in order to set the injured person back to how their life was before the incident (as close as possible). With groundbreaking transplants now being performed,  including the UK’s first double hand transplant, which happened recently, we will soon be able to gauge the usefulness of the more high tech equipment and its ability to return a person to life as they knew it.

For more information on the effect of serious injury (including amputation) and what a solicitors firm such as ourselve does for our clients during a claim, you can visit our website here.

Serious injury cases require much more attention and expertise than other injuries, often requiring expert help like physiotherapists, doctors and councillors. We have spent more than 26 years building those links to help all of our clients with should they need them during their recovery.

For free advice on how we could help you or one of your family members or even a friend, call us today on 0800 092 2896 (lines are open weekdays from 9am to 7pm). Alternatively, you can get in touch using our online contact form here.

 

500 Injured in UK theme Parks in 2015/16

Statistics have emerged indicating that the UK currently holds a particularly dismal record of safety at it’s theme and amusement parks. The new figures reveal that over 500 people per year suffer injuries from malfunctioning rides leading to us to ask, is it time for the government to look into the safety records and regulations of UK parks to ensure this number drops?

 

Two major incidents

Over the last 12 months, Sincere Law has commented on two serious incidents in two UK theme parks. Last year, it was well documented the extent of the injuries suffered by those on board The Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers, when it malfunctioned and crashed, causing multiple passengers to require amputations. More recently a crash at M&D’s theme park in Scotland occurred when a car derailed causing multiple injuries to passengers which included children, many of them being kept in hospital for weeks.

In both cases, park officials were adamant that the safety standards were being adhered to and that they were freak accidents. These, plus a host of other injuries at local funfairs reported in the last 12 months, has in total led to 500 injury cases in the UK. This is up from a reported 489 in the 2014/15 season (of which around 120 were serious enough to require an investigation).

The Smiler ride required multiple riders to have amputation injuries

 

Tighter legislation?

Given the potential risks of injury (particularly among the larger rollercoasters and thrill rides) to those on board, the statistics create a worrying picture. Ideally the UK would like to have a zero injury rate but with increasing numbers year-on -year, could beg the question “do we need tighter health and safety regulation on theme parks?”.

Doing so could be problematic when dealing with small, travelling funfairs. This is because the owners of these can attempt to avoid investigation and fines easier than the static theme parks like Alton Towers, Thorpe Park or M&D’s. There is also the fact that theme parks are already subject to stringent health and safety laws.

Sincere Law’s Head of Catastrophic Injury, Chris Walker, believes that it is the tightening of safety laws AND the management of staff that could be the key to lowering the number of injured.

He pointed out that a lot of injuries are the result of faults not being picked up when checking a ride.

“Many injuries sustained at theme parks are often due to mistakes made when inspecting rides. This element of human error is the biggest risk when it comes to safety in theme parks. To lower the number of injured each year, there must be safeguards in place to hold people accountable for not carrying out proper checks and also ensure that these errors do not happen in the first place”.

Theme park accidents can cause a host of serious injuries

Will theme parks learn the lessons of the past few years and combat the rising number of injured in the 2016/17 season? Only time will tell.

Having dealt with clients facing this situation previously, Sincere Law can ensure that, in the instance that you or someone close to you suffers a serious injury at a theme park, you will receive the right level of support and care you need to recover.

For more information or to get some free advice without obligation call us today on 0800 092 2896 (lines are open from 9am to 7pm).

Alternatively you can get I touch using our contact form or arrange a for us to call you at a more convenient time using our request a callback feature.

 

Prosthetic Limbs & Personal Injury

We have seen encouraging development in the field of prosthetic limbs over recent years; a far cry from the makeshift wooden blocks once used to return an amputee into society. How though does the law view these limbs in the situation of sustaining damage negligently? As part of a person or simply property?

The History of Prosthetics

Prosthetic limbs date back to early civilisations. The oldest known prosthetic was a false leg taken from a roman burial from around 300bc which suffered the unfortunate fate of being destroyed in a World War II bombing raid. However, in 2012, a prosthetic toe was found belonging to an Egyptian which dates back to around 710bc – 950bc. Early prosthetics of the time were designed to give “fullness” to the wearer as those who suffered an amputation would want to pass through to the next life whole.

Later developments during the middle ages were made so that the limbs replaced severed appendages lost in battle, designing them so they were able to perform a simple purpose such as a hand that held a shield or a leg that easily fit inside a stirrup. One of the most notorious prosthetics of the time was the ‘Iron hand of Götz Von Berlichingen’ which made the knight quite a fierce and imposing figure on the battlefield.

Gotz Von Berlingenen Hand

During the 17th to 20th centuries, artificial limbs began to look similar to that of a natural appendage, moving closer to the real article to help wearers feel more comfortable in public. Limbs, like the first non-locking below the knee prosthesis, were introduced; allowing a user to walk normally with bendable knees.

Large strides were made following both World Wars, as for the first time in history we saw mass amounts of people require prosthetics to allow them to operate away from the battlefield. With around 67,000 German amputees and 4,000 US amputees alone in World War 1, there was a need for advances in the development of hands, arms, legs and foot prosthetics.

The most recent improvements have ranged from allowing athletes to achieve similar times to able bodied athletes, attempting to simulate touch to send signals to the rest of the body, and creating limbs that operate using signals from the brain.

 

How we went from peg legs to biotic limbs: Source

 

Personal Injury or Property?

Given there have not yet been any landmark cases in the UK regarding damage to artificial limbs, it is hard to give a definite answer when asking if a damaged prosthetic constitutes property damage or personal injury. The main talking point revolves around the ability to cause physical pain when bringing up a personal injury case. With artificial limbs rapidly improving year on year, the ability to rule them as simply property is becoming harder for all in the legal industry. Both sides give credible cases.

 

No Pain, No Personal Injury

The current legal ruling is that any damage caused by a person’s negligence to a prosthetic limb would only constitute property damage on the basis that the limbs are simply mechanical devices causing the user no pain should they suffer harm.

While there isn’t any case evidence of the legal standpoint in UK law, there have been multiple articles commentating from the United States’ point of view. All articles address the issue utilising the above point regarding property not being part of a person.

 

Assimilation Makes Damage Personal

The alternative argument for prosthetics being included in a personal injury case, is the degree to which the user feels the limb is a natural part of their body. If somebody uses their artificial hand, arm, leg or foot regularly, and feels it is a part of them, that limb could potentially be considered as integral a body part as any natural part.

While originally limbs were cruder in design and served a very functional purpose, the advance in their integration into the body could see them viewed in future as important as the rest of their limbs. With newer prosthetics able to read nerve responses and be controlled via brainwaves, a newer amputee may begin to feel as though that limb is the same as it was previously except made from a different material.

Amputation injury, prosthetic leg

Setting Precedents

While this area of law would currently still favour the accepted notion that prosthetics are “property” due to the previous nature of these limbs being purely functional, the rapid advance in technology could open up future debate regarding their connection to the person they are part of.

Sincere Law Catastrophic Injury Partner Chris Walker spoke to us regarding the issue, stating “Currently the law favours the stance that artificial limbs operate outside the body, hence being property. It also accepts that no harm or pain comes to the person if damaged. However; it can be feasible to think in the future, that new technology could bring that theory into question. Anything is possible in science and we are continually seeing strides made in this field. As injury solicitors, we always strive to return a victim to how their life was before an accident. With artificial limbs approaching biotic integration, it is becoming easier for us to achieve this as we get to see our clients happy that life is not as drastically affected as first feared.

Will we ever see a further movement to produce prosthetics that are more biotic than robotic? The future is (as usual) unclear, and despite the strides towards helping amputation victims regain as much of their former self as possible; the law will continually need to take stock as to whether the devices attached to them are still simply property, or eventually become part of a person’s natural body.

 

Sources:

Götz Von Berlichingen Hand – commons.wikmedia.org

Amputee Cyclist – commons.wikimedia.org

 

The 5 most common work accidents and injuries

Workplace injuries are commonplace in the UK. While we often have training, risk assessments and dedicated staff in place to reduce the number of incidents, they do still happen. Being a serious injury specialist, Sincere Law deals with these kinds of injury cases on a daily basis. What however, are the most common accidents found within the workplace? We’ve put together the top 5 most common accident type to help you stay alert and avoid serious injury while at work.

1. Slips, trips & falls

Slips, trips and falls are by a long way the most common cause of serious injury to UK workers. In 2014 the number of combined serious slips, trips and falls reported by employees reached just over 27,500.

What’s interesting about this number reported by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was that all these reported accidents included only incidents resulting in a more than 7 day absence from work. According to statistics, 57% of major injuries to UK employees were the result of a slip, trip or fall on duty.

This type of injury can seriously damage somebody; from slipping on a wet floor and fracturing bones, to tripping over poorly placed objects, causing a fall and potentially risking severe damage to not only bones but the brain if the fall is particularly bad. Negligence is quite often the reason for these accidents, with incorrect equipment, unsafe environments and poor direction being the main causes.

2. Manual handling accidents

With over 18,500 workers injured by manual handling incidents in 2014 (accounting for nearly a quarter of reported injuries) these accidents make up a large number of serious injuries at work each year. Of those injured, 9 out of 10 of 2014’s manual handling accidents involved a longer than 7 day period away from work.

Handling injuries can be incredibly detrimental to the long term health of an employee, even risking their future. The most common injury caused by handling is strain and damage to the back, spine and neck. Spinal injuries can result in permanent trouble with movement, requiring lengthy spells of physiotherapy and possibly forcing early retirement if the person affected cannot perform manual tasks following injury.

Common causes of spinal injuries due to handling are overburdening of a staff member by asking to move something around their workplace and not providing proper training on how to lift and carry. Heavier loads usually require apparatus or machines to move. Proper equipment/machinery should always be provided to avoid injury.

serious injury while at work - Sincere Law

3. Car collisions

Driving is big business in the UK. Thousands of people drive each day in company cars to and from meetings alongside those using the roads keeping our logistics network running strong, be it in a van or a heavy goods vehicle (HGV).

In 2014, 1,504 employees were involved in collisions that resulted in a stay away from work longer than a week. Road traffic accidents can obviously stem a range of injury problems from whiplash, giving the driver back, neck and head problems, to the most severe lacerations, amputations and even fatalities.

4. Burns

Burns at work can come in the form not only as burns from fires; electrical burns can badly scar a person just as much as direct flames. Other burn types include exposure directly to harmful substances like acids or other corrosive materials. The result can be anything from large sections of skin peeling to permanent disfigurement.

Burns as a result of exposure accounts for just over 1,000 serious injuries per year according to HSE statistics. The riskiest environments involve employees who deal with fire or corrosives on a regular basis, working with open flames or handling chemicals for example. The aftermath of burns can be long lasting and have detrimental effects on the victim’s self esteem in later life if they have been disfigured as a result of their accident.

5. Electrical accidents

Everybody is aware of the danger electricity can cause. According to statistical analysis, there are around 1,000 cases of electric shocks in the workplace each year.

Even the lowest voltages such as a 50v plug can apply enough electricity to block signals between brain and muscles, risking the heart stopping, prevention of breathing or intense spasms. Electrical accidents are commonly caused by a failure to identify a risk of electrocution due to exposed wires, faulty equipment or lack of PPC.

Electrical damage can be extremely severe with serious, long lasting, even life changing effects. These include disfigurement and burns from skin contact, loss of function in limbs and long term damage to nerves/nerve endings as well as fatality if the voltage has caused the heart to stop beating properly or affected body function.

Sincere Law - Accidents at work

Be Aware!

With thousands of injuries at work each year, severe and minor, we all need to be aware of risks of our particular workplace. Our advice would be to be proactive and actively challenge managers should you be given incorrect equipment or dangerous instructions and to move any objects likely to cause falls or clean up spillages. Reducing risk is the number 1 priority in workplace safety and in an ideal world everybody will do their part to help not only themselves but their workmates too.

If you have unfortunately suffered as a result of a workplace injury that wasn’t your fault, make sure you call us today for free advice and a no hassle conversation on 0800 092 2896. Alternatively simply fill in our contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Amputations – The long term effects  

Amputations (of any body part) are a major change in a person’s life, almost intrusive on a personal level. Usually they occur when a body part is majorly injured or infected. In simple terms they are described as the “surgical removal of a body part”. In the UK, over 5,000 major limb amputations are thought to be carried out each year according to the NHS.

This past month, a news story has been circulated around many of the main media outlets regarding the unfortunate incident involving a teenager (Leah Washington)  requiring an amputation to her leg following a ride malfunction at the popular theme park Alton Towers.

The incident took place on a ride which has been plagued with problems it’s entire working life, The Smiler. Serious injuries on rollercoasters are thankfully not a common occurrence due to the strict testing each one must go through to ensure any thrill seeker on board is as safe as possible. Unfortunately however, amputations occur in all manner of circumstances elsewhere in life. Some of the more common causes include:

  • Road traffic accidents
  • Industrial accidents
  • Work accidents
  • Clinical negligence cases
  • Serious infections
  • Cancers
  • Diabetes

In all instances, including Leah’s this summer; they can have very serious consequences.

 

Amputations, Serious Injury, Sincere Law, Solicitors, claims

The Smiler was the cause of the accident resulting in Leah’s amputation

 

Instant Aftermath

Amputations are instantly life changing ordeals. After living your entire life with full function, that normality is completely thrown into disarray. As soon as they leave the hospital, an amputee may suffer emotional scars as they see themselves without a body part. This can cause serious self esteem problems.

At the same time, it’s a steep learning curve requiring to adapt life and everyday situations to not having that body part, be it an arm, hand, leg, foot or even fingers or toes. Upon arriving home even basic tasks could turn into a drawn out, laborious process. An amputee may have trouble performing tasks such as:

  • Walking up stairs
  • Moving around the house
  • Opening doors and cupboards
  • Holding regular household objects

The time required to get used to this has to be rapid as the affected person will never be able to perform those tasks the same again. Thankfully, due to advancement in scientific development, we are much better able to simulate having these limbs now, but even that isn’t a replacement for the damage caused.

 

Long term scarring

It’s not unusual for an amputee to be forced to leave their job depending on the physical strain required, or adapt their role to allow them to continue. Thankfully in the UK those suffering from an amputation are currently entitled to disability benefits in some capacity; however, this is unlikely to match potential earnings an amputee could have with a long, prosperous career.

After her Alton Towers ordeal, Leah will likely have to adapt her future life around what she is and isn’t physically able to do. This is the case for most negligence victims with amputations, and this will not only affect her, but her family too. Not being able to fully enjoy physical activities the same will be a lasting side effect alongside taking longer to travel on foot, requiring more time planning.

The cost of life could increase with an amputation as alterations to housing could have to be made or equipment purchased to make life easier. In Leah’s case she may require a prosthetic or a wheelchair when out of the house to assist with movement. This also is a common long term after effect of an amputation.

 

Serious Injury Claims, Sincere Law Solicitors

Dramatic lifestyle changes may be required following an amputation

 

Options following surgery

If you or a loved one were to suffer an accident resulting in amputation, you or they would almost certainly need to alter your lifestyle and living conditions in some form. If the amputation was caused as a result of somebody else’s negligence, then there would be scope to be able to recoup the damage caused and allow you or your loved one to secure themselves financially following the injury. While full recovery will never be a possibility, the financial burden of requiring lifestyle changes due to somebody else’s fault can be eased.

Nobody should be left to carry the burden for the cost of an amputation caused by another (mentally as well as financially). Leah will now have to live without the lower half of one leg due to an accident as the result of a defect that, all being well, could have completely changed the events of that day.

Sincere Law has been dealing with serious injuries like Leah’s leg for over 20 years, with many cases involving amputated limbs during that time. We’ve learned the importance of life after amputation and if it was ever to happen to yourself or a loved one, you need to know what you can do to get life back to normal, including claiming compensation. If you or your family member ever suffers from misfortune as a result of another’s negligence, please call us on 0800 092 2896 or contact us via www.sincerelaw.co.uk to see what we could do for you.

Serious Injuries – Life and care following an injury

 

A man from Bognor Regis recently received compensation following a life changing brain injury as the result of a car accident. Included in the payment was the sound knowledge that the care he will need for the rest of his life will be covered. The article resonated with us at Sincere Law. We feel one of our most important jobs when fulfilling a claim is that everybody, including the family of the claimant, feels confident they won’t be financially insecure in the future as a result of care costs.

Dealing with serious injuries including brain injuries, spinal injuries, road accident victims, burn victims, amputees and others, we have a wealth of experience of what aftercare may be required. Changes to lifestyles of victims and their families are often needed depending on the circumstances of their injuries. Some are wheelchair bound, some need changes to the home environment, and some may need carers to assist them throughout the day. What’s important to them is that they need not panic over costs affecting them in later life.

 

Life after injury

As serious injury specialists, we’ve seen many cases where lives are changed significantly and the person affected needs assistance to live a comfortable, full life. At the basic level, aftercare allows you to run a home, live cleanly and feed themselves with no pressure of running into financial problems.

In the more severe injury cases, we have ensured all affected were able to fulfil future development aspirations such as going to college or university, giving access to learning at a local facility, regardless of the injury suffered. Having to radically change your life due to an accident that wasn’t your fault can be extremely stressful and worrying. With Sincere Law, we try to take away all of that and let you or your loved one fulfil those goals no matter what has happened.

Depending on circumstances, extent of injuries and the changes needed to be made to living conditions following injury; victims can often feel under strain; suffering symptoms of depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. All those conditions must be treated with extreme care. Ensuring full recovery from mental health problems is a top priority. Previously we have ensured care was provided to deal with the prevention of:

  • Suicide
  • Sectioning
  • Being sent to prison
  • Children going into care
  • Family break ups
  • And others.

The effects of serious injury can be devastating for all concerned; to get back to normality as soon as possible is a must. The above examples are some of the most severe cases. Having your life dramatically changed can have untold effects that can harm a person and their personality. We aim to assist so that none of these situations would ever have to arise, and that you and your family can enjoy a healthy, full life after injury.

 

Expert Opinions

During any claim, it’s important the person involved is well looked at by medical professionals and the extent of damage is reviewed. Immediately following a serious injury, there are medical and court costs. Only looking at the present however could lead to a person and their family struggle to deal with the extended impact of possible care and alternative living arrangements needing to be made for years to come.

We asked Chris Walker, Sincere Law catastrophic and serious injury partner about aftercare in cases relating to Sincere Law, he told us:

“Without properly assessing the future needs of a serious injury claimant, it’s almost a fruitless venture to go ahead with the claim at all. Short term, the benefits of their compensation are good for them, but many people forget the financial and emotional burdens of having to deal with the lasting effects of these injuries in later life.”

 

Aftercare – What to expect?

Anyone who has suffered from a serious injury and wants to make a claim through Sincere Law can expect the same level of commitment towards their future as Josh has. It’s essential that we employ highly qualified experts in all fields of serious injury. That’s exactly what Sincere law can provide and will provide for all claimants. The claims process is much more than a simple compensation ruling and payout, it’s about how somebody with a serious injury will move on and continue to live their life as best they can under often very testing and difficult circumstances.

If you, a family member or anyone else has suffered from serious injury and you would like more information on our medical assessments, aftercare or would like to know if you are able to make a claim, please contact us on 0800 092 2896 or get in touch here.

 

What is Serious Injury? Making a Claim

Making a claim for serious injury, whether it be for you, a partner, family or other, can be a daunting task. Often the results of serious injury claims can last for an extended period of time, long after the initial accident that causes it. Before any claims are made, it must be understood, what exactly IS serious injury considered to be in the UK and what process is involved when making a claim?

Serious Injury Defined

At its most basic level, and using clear terms, serious injury is classed as “an injury which results in a person being detained in hospital as an in patient”. In addition to this dictionary definition, there are types of injuries also included as “serious”. These are:

  • Fractures
  • Concussions
  • Internal Injuries
  • Crushing
  • Burns (excluding friction burns)
  • Severe Cuts
  • Severe General Shock (requiring medical treatment even if not resulting in a stay as an in-patient.)

What’s the difference?

Personal injury and severe injury claims are to be handled separately as not all personal injury claims are serious injury claims. The major difference between the two are that non serious injuries are the opposite of the above definition, with minor injuries judged to be largely treatable at the scene of the accident. These include:

  • Sprains
  • Bruises
  • Minor Cuts
  • Slight Shocks

Sincere Law & Your Claim

As specialists in Serious Injury, and being the UK’s leading claims handlers, Sincere Law has all the knowledge needed to make a successful claim and help the process of rebuilding following a serious injury.

Treatment following the injury is a crucial part of a claimants post accident care. Sincere Law thankfully has some of the best and most qualified medical specialists in the UK. Our team consists of specialists in the fields of:

  • Head & brain injuries
  • Spinal injuries
  • Amputations
  • Severe burns
  • Chronic pain
  • And others

More than simply getting through a claims process, we offer a thorough and complete service that allows seamless movement for a claim from beginning to end, including treatment and advice during the claim. With over 27 years of experience behind us, we have the in house, expert, legal knowledge you will need carry a claim through.

Aftercare & peace of mind

Making a successful claim simply isn’t enough when it comes to serious injuries. Many cases go further than a compensation payout and will have lasting effects on not only the person involved but immediate family too. Depending on the type of injury, lifestyle changes may need to be altered; changes to living arrangements including house and car developments could be required or in more severe cases, carers needing to be in place to assist in the long term.

 

Aftercare and support from Sincere Law is something we pride ourselves on. We want to go further and make the lives of those affected as comfortable as possible following serious injury. After making a successful claim, to make a real difference to those affected, there must be adequate plans in place to prepare for life after the injury.

 

Our team works tirelessly to get the very best outcome for all affected, making definite the time; not only immediately following the injury; but the long term (sometimes the rest of the affected persons life), is as easy and comfortable as it can be for all involved.

Making a Claim

From start to finish, enquiring, making and carrying through a claim with Sincere Law is simple, stress free and reassuring with the knowledge that, at every stage, you will be looked after by our large, experienced team of claims specialists. Initially, all you need to do is get in touch with us by calling our claims centre. A description of the circumstances is all that’s initially required to help us advise and decide on whether you have a good claim and are eligible to proceed. At Sincere Law we try to give you peace of mind when any client decides to proceed; with that in mind, our solicitors work on a No Win No Fee basis.

If you think that either yourself, a family member, partner or spouse has suffered a serious injury and would like to find out more information or make a claim, please contact us here or call us on 0800 092 2896.