Traditionally, age brings with it wisdom – and the respect of others. But what if you’re 84 years old and you’re accused of telling lies "in court"? It's one thing to exaggerate, for example, medical symptoms caused by an accident - but to invent them? Here's an anonymised true story of a case we dealt with and how a scenario of that nature played out in practice. Our client was injured after she fell into an excavation that had been made by a national utilities company. It was right outside her garden gate. There were no warning signs in place. Our client had a registered sight impairment. She opened her gate, minding her own business, took one step and suddenly down she went. After her accident, the utilities company covered the trench with hard plastic matting so it was impossible for pedestrians to fall in. If they had done that before the accident, it could not have happened. We alleged that the utilities company had been negligent and that had caused our Continue Reading
Avoiding losing money on your personal injury claim
It makes no sense to behave in a way that any claim you have for personal injury is reduced through your own conduct.
The articles listed below deal in some way with things you can do - or should consider - to avoid your compensation damages being reduced below an otherwise "fair" level.
The default position under Qualified One-way Costs Shifting (QOCS) for personal injury compensation claimants in Scotland is this. If your claim succeeds, you will be able to recover legal costs from your opponent, in addition to the compensation agreed as payable or as awarded to you by a court. Whether you lose any of your compensation to pay a success fee will depend upon the arrangement you have with your solicitor. If your claim is unsuccessful, QOCS should mean that you DO NOT have pay legal costs to your opponent - even though the normal rule is “loser pays”. That is what “one-way costs shifting” means. There’s a shift in the usual costs rule in favour of the loser if they are claimant; but not if they are the claimant’s opponents (usually an insurance company). QOCS arrived in England and Wales (2013) before it came to Scotland (2021). To some extent, Scotland has been learning from the experience south of the Border. In 2023, there have been some Continue Reading
If you like words and plays on words, the internet is a mine of nuggets. For example, in India, “Sari” always seems to be the hardest word. If you’re looking for “alternative” definitions of words, the Uxbridge English Dictionary (from BBC Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue) has examples such as: Cardiology - the study of knitwear; andFaculty - cockney for “there’s no more Scottish Blend” Words are not always what they seem. The “plain meaning” of a word is rarely a given. The meaning of words can be twisted or ignored. In this article, we’ll consider 3 words / phrases which insurers in personal injury claim situations will avoid using if they can and will twist as far as possible if they cannot be avoided. What are these "unforgivable" words / phrases? We’ll get to them in a moment. First, we need to understand the context in which the problematic terminology arises. Your personal injury solicitor wants to achieve for you the highest level of compensation Continue Reading
In Scotland, we are used to being lumped in with England and other parts of the UK in all sorts of situations where that may be misleading or even wrong. Sometimes the law is the same in Scotland as in the rest of the UK and sometimes it’s not. Personal injury claims are usually based upon negligence of one person causing injury to another. The modern law of negligence for the UK (and much of the world) is based on the Scottish “snail in the ginger beer bottle” case of Donoghue –v- Stevenson. But some areas of personal injury law differ markedly between the jurisdictions. For example, the law relating to claims in cases of fatal accidents and payment of bereavement damages to relatives of deceased persons. Scotland has had a more ‘generous’ compensation scheme in this type of case than the rest of the UK for a long time. But one area where there has been a parting of the ways between Scotland, on the one hand, and England and Wales, on the other, has come as recently as May Continue Reading
The style of lettering you use for words can have life and death consequences. Research by the AgeLab at Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has noted how car dashboard interfaces, if designed correctly, should minimise the amount of time the driver has to spend looking at them. The longer you take to work out what's on the screen, the less time you're looking at the road. Some typefaces are rigid and uniform. Their letters and numbers can look highly similar to each other. But other typefaces have much more open spacing and varied letter shapes. These latter fonts can shave precious milliseconds off the time drivers spend looking away from the road. Getting this form of visual communication right is important because the consequences for vehicle travellers' safety could be serious. With personal injury claims, one thing you need to get right in order to avoid potentially serious consequences is the valuation of the claim. With personal injury claims, your Continue Reading
The comic strip featuring Calvin and Hobbes has many recurring themes. For example, the opinion poll results showing that Calvin's Dad risks failing to be "re-elected" as Calvin's Dad in upcoming elections (elections which never seem to materialise). Calvin: (e.g.) "You rate especially low among tigers and six-year-old white males." Calvin's Dad: (e.g.) "I take comfort in the fact that not many people would want the job (i.e. the job of being "Calvin's Dad")." Another recurring theme is Calvin's fear of maths problems. It does not help that Hobbes (his pet, stuffed tiger) helps him in class and with homework. For example, Calvin: "What's 7 + 3?" Hobbes: "73." In one class quiz, Calvin considers the following problem: "Jack and Joe leave their homes at the same time and drive toward each other. Jack drives at 60 mph, while Joe drives at 30 mph. They pass each other in 10 minutes. How far apart were Jack and Joe when they started?" Calvin stares helplessly at the Continue Reading
We've talked about Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting (QOCS) before now because it is an important topic. In Scotland, the "normal rule" whereby an unsuccessful claimant for personal injury compensation will no longer have to pay court costs / expenses if the claim fails will have various exceptions. In these situations, the claimant will lose QOCS protection and have to pay the costs of their opponent. The claimant will only be liable for their opponent's expenses in Scotland where they have: made a fraudulent representation or "otherwise acted fraudulently" in connection with the claim or proceedings;behaved in a manner which is "manifestly unreasonable" in connection with the claim or proceedings; orconducted the proceedings in a manner considered by the court to be an abuse of process. We have waited three years for the QOCS regulations to come in. They were enacted from 30 June 2021. In many respects, the regulations mirror those already in force in England and Continue Reading
Tea drinking is a national pastime in Nepal. They have all sorts of teas - sweet, butter, hot, cold, black, white. The ritual with tea is that, when offered tea, you decline it and your host insists that you have some. No matter how much you say no, they still insist that you have it. So you drink it. In other words, it's a situation with drink consumption where "no" means "yes". With personal injury court actions, as the claimant, if your opponent offers you settlement via a Minute of Tender, you want to say "no" (because you always want them to make you a better offer). Unfortunately, you might find that however much you say "no", depending on the level of offer, your legal adviser may have to insist that you say "yes" and accept it. It's one of the situations that can happen with Minutes of Tender. You think your personal injury claim’s worth £20,000 but you’ve got a formal offer (Minute of Tender) in your court action to settle at £10,000. Should you accept the Continue Reading
“The room is full of steam from the kettle but you still make the tea.” These were words of my school chemistry teacher. What was the point? That a small volume of water produces a large volume of steam. If you put water on to boil for a cup of tea but then get distracted by something else, you may return to find the room filled with steam but there will probably still be enough water left to make your brew. This idea that you can forget about something for a while, come back to it and the outcome will still be okay seems to be one that many folk with possible personal injury compensation claims have too. The problem is that personal injury claims are up against a hard deadline. In most cases, that deadline is 3 years from the date of the accident/injury. If you don’t settle your claim by negotiation within the 3-year period, you’ll have to raise a court action to keep the claim alive beyond the deadline - or lose the right to claim forever. It’s inevitable Continue Reading
"Give me 10 men like Clouseau and I could destroy the world," These were the words of Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus (Herbert Lom), long-suffering superior of the hilariously inept Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Peter Sellers) in the Pink Panther films of the 1960s and 70s. Another crucial supporting role to Clouseau was that of Cato Fong (Burt Kwouk – pronounced “Kwok”), the Inspector’s Chinese manservant, trained to spring regular surprise attacks on his boss to keep him alert and practised in martial arts. A prime example of Clouseau’s extreme destructive power is in one apartment scene where, with Cato’s assistance, he destroys not only a four-poster bed and a TV set but also inflicts structural damage on the flat below, occupied by the hysterically twitching Dreyfus. We could say that Burt Kwouk’s role was crucial in support of Peter Sellers’ performance. And, because we love a pun, we could also say that, in the context of personal injury claims, QOCS (which is Continue Reading
Water seems a rather boring substance. Ice floats in water, as you'd expect. But is that typical behaviour for substances as between their liquid and solid forms? As you cool water down, it contracts until you get to 4°C. Then it suddenly expands again and its density reduces. So, by the time water freezes to ice, you have a material which is less dense than the liquid that it’s sitting on. There is no other known molecular material which will actually float on its melt. As a comparison, if you look at the olive oil sold in a supermarket, on a relatively cold day, at the bottom of the bottle there is an off-whitish deposit. That is olive oil ice. Olive oil is a 'normal' liquid which, when it freezes, contracts. The frozen stuff goes down to the bottom. Water brainwashes us from a young age to think that when you freeze a fluid it should become a solid which goes to the surface. But water is unique in that respect. With Personal Injury Compensation Continue Reading
Personal injury claims come with stress attached. You have the strain of the pain and discomfort from the injury, the hassle of not being able to engage in everyday activities and possibly also the worry of loss of income through not being able to work. Coping with injury puts added pressure on your relationships. Particularly your closest relationships. This can lead to relationship breakdowns, whether that is splitting up with your boyfriend or girlfriend, or separating from your spouse or civil partner. Even the strongest relationships can be undermined. Personal injuries can be physical or mental, or both. As an injured person, you may develop depressive symptoms or changes in personality. In this article, we are going to look at what Scots law says about personal injury compensation in the context of relationship breakdown. We will focus particularly on financial provision on divorce or termination of civil partnership. We'll look at the situation Continue Reading