Category Archives: Personal injury

No Win No Fee solicitors services in Ireland

If you or a member of your family has been injured in an accident or suffered from any form of injury or illness due to an act of negligence or a lack of duty of care, we could help you to claim the compensation that you deserve.

Our guarantee is that if there is no win, then there is no fee, so in the unlikely event that we do not succeed with a personal injury claim, there will be no cost to you.

We provide personal injury and medical negligence advice in Ireland. We will deal with your personal injury claim in an efficient, effective and sympathetic way so you receive the best compensation settlement possible. We are extremely proud of all the wonderful feedback we have received from our clients in the past. We will do what it takes so the feedback continues into the future.

A No Win, No Fee agreement is an arrangement between you and us who are your personal injury Solicitors which means that if unfortunately, your compensation claim with us is not successful, we, your no win no fee  Solicitor at http://cli.re/gA3YQ5 will not be paid for the work we have done. If you win your claim, we, your Solicitor is paid our fees by the other party, typically an insurance company.

The No Win No Fee agreement covers both our fees and costs and applies to Road traffic accidents, which cover accidents with cars, Lorries, motorbikes, bikes and pedestrians; it also covers slips and falls and of course, works accidents and injuries. Where there is a lack of duty of care in a medical established then we also offer No Win No Fee agreements.

A no win no fee claim is a conditional agreement between you and us your Personal injury solicitor. We fully agree that if your case is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay the fees or costs to us. If your case is successful, on the other hand, your personal injury solicitor’s fees and costs are paid out by your adversary. That means, win or lose, it will not cost you anything upfront to make a personal injury claim.

No win no fee claims mean an opportunity to seek accident compensation without worrying about the serious financial risk involved. Many people who suffer personal injuries in Ireland turn to no win no fee claims for two key reasons;

  • No financial risk for you in going down the No Win No Fee route
  • It focuses our mind on winning your Personal injury claim for compensation as if we lose we are out of pocket!

You should know that in Ireland we, your personal injury solicitors and indeed all solicitors in Ireland are not allowed to charge clients a percentage fee for winning a case. Only work performed can be charged.

The insurance industry is very critical of No Win No Fee agreements as they claim that it fuels the Personal injury industry, but we believe that No Win No Fee makes justice available for all.

Personal injury solicitors design new site for Ireland

PISD help people to contact the best legal representation for those who have been injured in an accident or by a medical intervention either physically or mentally due to the negligence of an individual, company or another party. In short, it is their job to prove that the negligence of a third party or parties caused your injury. They work mainly on a No Win No fee basis which makes personal injury claims easy to access for all. No Win No Fee solicitors are the way to go.

Their experienced personal injury solicitors at http://cli.re/gzKzbm have specialist expertise in all areas of personal injury and medical negligence law. If you have been injured or suffered medically because of someone else’s negligence, they will guide you through the process of making a personal injury or medical negligence claim for compensation against the individual or organisation responsible for your injury.

Following any such injury from an accident or medical intervention, it is important to contact a personal injury solicitor as quickly as possible. Although by law, those injured in such incidents are allowed up to two years (unless you are a minor) within which personal injury claims must be commenced, they would always recommend commencing your claim as soon as possible so that all the necessary information can be documented as accurately as possible while your recollection and that of any witnesses of the accident remains fresh.

Personal injury may be defined by injuries suffered because of an accident that was not your fault and could involve road traffic accidents, slips, and falls and work accidents and injuries. Road traffic accidents may involve, cars, Lorries, buses, motorbikes, bicycles, and pedestrians.

Medical personnel have what is called a “duty of care” to their patients. Doctors, Surgeons, Consultants, dentists, and nurses may define medical personnel etc. When there is negligence and the duty of care is not provided then the patient may take a Medical Negligence claim out for damages due to the harm, loss of income and quality of life etc.

Personal injury solicitors may seem like an expensive option just to make a personal injury claim for compensation for what could be a minor injury, but when you consider the experience and knowledge they bring to the table, opting to hire a solicitor like them is simply a no brainer. On top of that, they are also No Win No Fee solicitors and that makes life easier.

Their Personal injury solicitors love their job not only because of the money they can earn but from the satisfaction they get from helping those that very often are in a situation when they need it, and their team are no exception.

If you need an expert, then contact us today to find out how they make a serious difference in helping you. They have a team of personal injury solicitors with many years of experience in successfully claiming compensation for clients, mainly on a No Win No Fee basis.

Whiplash claims reform to benefit insurers most

RTA UK 2 CC license

In early January of this year, the UK’s Ministry of Justice closed a consultation on soft tissue injury claims, or whiplash, reform after a seven-week response period. During that time, interested parties were given an opportunity to analyze the significant impact the proposed changes to the claims process relating to whiplash after road traffic accidents would have. The reforms, coming only a short three years after similar measures benefiting large insurers, purport to address the perception of an excessive compensation culture throughout the UK, focused on fast cash for claims that burden the insurance companies and ultimately, raise premiums for motorists.

Within the proposal for reform, the government offered four substantial changes to how claims are handled currently. The first change hones in on the need to reduce fraudulent claims made by dishonest motorists or cash-hungry whiplash victims by altogether taking away compensation paid for pain, suffering, and loss of amenity (PSLA). An alternative to completely dissolving the opportunity for compensation is to cap the total amount paid to no more than £400 per incident. In addition, the reforms propose a denial of any whiplash claim brought against an insurance company that does not come with medical evidence to support it, and an all but forced small claims track for personal injury claims after road traffic accidents.

The combination of these reforms is, according to the proposal, intended to reduce the frivolous soft tissue injury claims and starkly reduce the average amount of a claim, currently at an estimated  £1,850. The reduction to compensation amounts, increased maximum for small claims court, and requirement of medical evidence of whiplash is all meant to deter individuals from making claims that may not be substantiated. Although the reform for soft tissue injury claims processes is spun under the guise of saving safe, honest motorists some money each month in insurance premiums, the true motivating force behind the potential changes is clearly an industry interested in higher profits.

The case for insurers

No altruistic driver is apparent in the insurance industry, despite the narrative of wanting to create a more honest, claim-wary population. Instead, insurers have created a story of a growing epidemic of fraudulent whiplash claims, pointing to the detriment erroneous lawsuits cause for the vast majority of motorists. In the opening letter of the reform, the government cites that an increase in whiplash claims has taken place over the last ten years, to the tune 50%. In addition, individuals filing soft tissue injury claims tack on costly attorney fees in addition to pain, suffering, and loss of amenity, creating a substantial blow to the insurance companies and the road users who rely on affordable coverage.

The reality of the soft tissue injury claims issue is not nearly as excessive as insurers might hope to promote. Instead, the cost of claims have fallen steadily for the last five years, and the associated cost to the insured population has experienced a 30% decline since 2010. Yet insurance companies have raked in more than £2.5 billion in profits by slowly increasing insurance premiums since 2013. The rise in cost to motorists can’t be directly correlated to an increase in fraudulent soft tissue injury claims, nor the cost of paying for substantiated claims. Motorists are required by law to hold insurance – the insurance companies have taken that mandate straight to the bank, and now are on the path toward limiting the benefits they provide to road users throughout the country.

A missing piece

Insurers claim to be on the right side of the reform, touting a reduction in premium costs to the insured population by putting an end to abusive whiplash claims. The unfortunate truth is that, while some motorists will be afforded cost savings by way of lower monthly premium payments, others will continue to be left out in the cold. A representative from a personal injury firm dealing with motorcycle accidents in the UK states, “The vulnerable 1%, including motorcyclists, pedestrians, and bicyclists, should be protected from the potential impacts of the proposed reforms, but they stand to be adversely affected instead. Motorcyclists represent just 1% of road traffic but account for 19% of all road user deaths. Given that accidents involving vulnerable road users are often more complex and more severe, the proposed reforms have the potential to keep them from receiving just compensation when they need it most.”

The soft tissue injury claims reform is a singularly focused method to reduce the number of fraudulent claims against insurers. Unfortunately, the perceived benefits of the reform put a heavy burden on the individuals who turn to their insurance companies for the financial assistance they are entitled to after a road traffic accident, especially road users who are more vulnerable to injury. Insurers are standing firm in their narrative that abusive claims work to drive up costs for the average motorist, but the data points to a driving force produced by the need to increase profit margins. The potential £40 savings possibly passed down to safe, honest road users hardly offsets the handcuffs placed on their ability to receive compensation from insurers after a road traffic accident occurs.

What is a personal injury trust fund?

A personal injury trust fund is a type of trust fund set up using the compensation payout that is awarded from a personal injury claim. You may also come across the terms ‘personal injury trust deed’ or ‘special needs trust’ – but they are all the same thing.

The aim of a personal injury trust fund is for you to keep your compensation money even if you have to claim some kind of state benefit, either immediately after being awarded compensation, or further down the line. Having a trust fund in place is the only legitimate method for you to do this.

What are the benefits of a personal injury trust fund?

As mentioned above, the main benefit of setting up a personal injury trust fund is that you will receive your full compensation payout, without any means-tested benefits that you may be receiving being affected. These means-tested benefits include:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Benefit
  • Disabled Person’s Tax Credit
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Employment and Support Allowance

The reason any benefits that you claim could be affected is that you will be regularly reviewed and assessed, and if you have more than £6,000 in your bank account, benefits you receive could be reduced or suspended. In addition, if you have more than £16,000 in your bank account, your benefits could be stopped altogether.

For this reason, a solicitor may advise you to set up a personal injury trust fund, rather than have your compensation payout paid directly into your bank account.

Another benefit of having a personal injury trust fund set up is that if you were to go into residential care, the cost of your care cannot be paid out of the compensation sum in your fund.

Do I need a personal injury trust fund if I’m not receiving benefits?

If you are not currently receiving any benefits, no, you don’t need to set up a personal injury trust fund.

However, it is still a good idea to set up a trust fund – and a solicitor will often give you this advice, as you never know what the future holds and you could end up claiming a benefit, whether it be months or years down the line.

What can I do with the money in my personal injury trust fund?

The good news is that there are no longer any restrictions in place to limit how much of your compensation money you can spend, and what you can spend it on. So you, and any ‘trustees’ that you appoint, can use the money in your personal injury trust fund however you like.

It is always recommended that if you are in receipt of any state benefits, you use this money for what it is intended for – so day to day life; bills, food etc… and then use the money in your trust fund for bigger purchases that your usual benefits wouldn’t cover – such as house deposits, buying a new car, going on holiday and so on.

At the end of the day, the money in your personal injury trust fund is your money – it has been awarded to you. So you can spend it however you see fit.

What money can I put into my personal injury trust fund?

A personal injury trust fund isn’t like a bank account. You should not make any deposits of any other sums of money whilst you have it open. The only money that should be in the fund is the money that was awarded to you from your personal injury claim.

Can I have trustees for my personal injury trust fund?

When setting up a personal injury trust fund, one of the requirements is that you appoint at least one other person to act as your ‘trustee’. People tend to choose a family member as their main trustee, such as a partner/spouse, mother, father or child. As long as the trustee is someone over the age of 18, it is entirely up to you.

However, choosing who to have as your trustee is very important, as they will have a say in how the compensation money is spent. So if there is a family member who you feel ‘should’ be your trustee, but you know this could cause problems in the future between you both, you probably shouldn’t appoint that person.

Most law firms will act as a trustee to your trust fund, but as you would expect, this comes with a fee. However, it may make sense for you to pay this charge and have someone completely impartial in the role.

You should also note that you do have the power to change your trustees at any time. So whoever you choose when setting up your fund is not ‘set in stone’. If you find that things aren’t working out with your trustee, and that there are too many disagreements regarding the money in the fund, then you can of course make a change.

Will I need to inform the benefits agency about my personal injury trust fund?

If you are receiving any benefits then yes, you are required to inform the agency about your personal injury trust fund, although this is something that your personal injury solicitor will do on your behalf.

The only information you will need to provide to a law firm is your National Insurance number and the address and contact details for your local benefits agency.

When can I take money out of my personal injury trust fund?

As soon as your compensation payout becomes available in your trust fund, you have access to it. However, in order to make a withdrawal from the fund, any trustees that you have appointed must sign the cheque or cash withdrawal form. As this is required for you to access your money, it is important to choose the right trustee to avoid any conflict.

Luke Glassford writes on behalf of Liverpool-based personal injury solicitors CL Legal, who specialise in accident and industrial disease compensation claims.

4 of the UK’s most dangerous jobs

The most recent statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), reported that 23.5 million work days were lost in 2013/14 due to work-related ill health. In that same period, an additional 4.7 million days were lost due to workplace injuries. What’s most interesting though, is the list of jobs that the organisation reported as Britain’s most dangerous.

Think about the riskiest careers that could cause harm to employees and require time off. Did you imagine that roles such as bomb disposal expert, stuntman, or even chef (all those sharp knives and hot ovens) would top the list? Believe it or not, there are plenty of surprising additions, with one of the most risky occupations apparently being a librarian!

As an employer, it’s important to have a thorough understanding of occupational health and safety, and how best to protect not just your staff, but also your business. It’s also imperative to understand what to do if a workplace incident or accident occurs, and if an employee makes a personal injury claim. In order to be prepared for issues and to help prevent them, read on for the rundown on some of the UK’s most dangerous jobs.

1. Librarian

LibrarianWho would have thought that being surrounded by books could be so risky? Although it is generally seen as a very safe career path, becoming a librarian does tend to involve lots of time spent on ladders or near heavy piles of books.

The occupation made the list of Britain’s most dangerous jobs, with the HSE report mentioning 46 major but non-fatal injuries last year across venues such as libraries, museums, and archives. On top of that, one fatality was also reported for this career type in the year studied.

2. Teacher

Another occupation that you might not expect to see on the list is teaching. Although, perhaps those in the profession who work with children day in and day out might not find it so remarkable!

According to the HSE report, this sector is actually the most injury-prone. In the last year more than 1,700 teachers reported major injuries caused by slipping or falling, while a further 190 educators were struck by an object.

3. Mechanic

Often seen as one of the dirtiest jobs going around, working on or with cars also happens to be one of the most dangerous. Those in the industry have to be wary of things like malfunctioning equipment, and cars and other heavy objects falling down. Other potential injuries, like sprains and muscle issues, could stem from working lying down or in awkward, cramped positions for many hours per day.

According to the HSE report, those working as car salespeople are also at risk of injury in their jobs. The study reported that there were eight deaths and around 300 major injuries in the “car handling” industry in the last recorded year.

4. Miner

It should come as no big surprise that mining regularly tops the list of the most dangerous jobs in the United Kingdom (or around the world, for that matter). Although there are actually only three deep-pit mines still operating in Britain, employees working in them faces many hazards each day. While there have been many safety improvements in the industry over recent years, being underground is always going to remain risky business. Miners, rig workers and tunnellers face a variety of hazards on the job, including fires, cave-ins, explosions, and flooding, as well as issues with heavy machinery and volatile substances. There is also the potential risk of developing lung disease in later life due to prolonged exposure to dust down in the mines.

According to HSE research, there were two fatalities in the mining sector in the last recorded year, and around 150 major injuries. Due to the fact that the industry has a very small workforce, with only three pits still open, the number of casualties is much lower than it could be. Indeed, being a miner is statistically a very deadly profession, with 9.6 workers killed, on average, per 100,000 personnel.

Still, working in the UK is relatively safe

While it’s obvious that things can go very wrong in the workplace from time to time, there are some positives still to be seen. There is a general trend towards less fatal injuries per year, indicating that health and safety regulations are making a difference.

In addition, the average “standardised incident rate” is less than one person in 100,000 dying at work. This puts the UK high up the list when it comes to safety in the workplace. In fact, in the 26 countries on HSE’s evaluated list, the UK ranks second, only beaten by Slovakia when it comes to safety on the job.

Personal Injury Solicitors Stockport launch new website

This week the Personal Injury Solicitors Stockport website underwent a design re-vamp and re-launch.  For the last few years the website had not been updated to reflect the new management and new services on offer, but that’s all now addressed with the re-launch.

The new website design has been completely re-vamped to include a more user-friendly navigation, plus easy to access information on the various forms of accident claims that they cover.  They are specialists in car accident claims, accidents at work, and clinical negligence and now have new pages dedicated to those types of enquires meaning prospective clients can understand how they work, and on what basis.

The team specialise in personal injury claims in the Stockport area, and work on a no win, no fee basis, seek to obtain the maximum amount of compensation for their clients who have been injured in accidents as a result of negligence.

Because Personal Injury Solicitors Stockport work on a no win no fee agreement it means people in the town can get access to the justice system regardless of their financial situation.  You can read more about how they operate on their no win no fee claims page which can be seen here.

Choose local Stockport personal injury lawyers?

Their team of friendly customer service advisors pride themselves on being open, friendly and available to clients at all times. Their phone lines are open 24/7 for clients to get in touch, and they understand that at such difficult times you need support from your legal advisors at a time that is convenient for you.

They will work for you and aim to be flexible to your needs, meeting you at your place of work, home, our local Stockport office, or even the hospital. They also understand that not everyone is a legal expert and will make sure that you are involved and understand the ins and outs of your claim.

If you need a personal injury solicitor and you live or work in Stockport then visit their website today and start a claim.  They cover the whole Stockport and Greater Manchester area.

NHS staff sue NHS Grampian for stress after injury from used needles

Twelve NHS staff workers have sued NHS Grampian claiming compensation for the stressed caused to them and their families having sustained injuries when handling used needles.  Staff waited for months not knowing if they had suffered from HIV or other illnesses such as Hepatitis C following their injury. Details on the case can be seen the Press and Journal website.

Compensation awarded

The workers took legal action due to the stressful nature of their injuries. NHS Grampian confirmed that compensation was awarded due to the stress that workers had to endure when they waited for their results.

Despite all staff being given the all clear regarding any long term effects from the injuries, the NHS confirmed that compensation had been awarded. While the NHS take as many precautions as possible, accidents still occur and people get injured by used needles. Strict precautions are in place to dispose of used needles. However if any are misplaced or disposed of in the incorrect fashion it can lead to lasting issues.

The stress and worry caused can be life changing, and we believe that if this is the case you should be rewarded compensation. Indeed, if you are injured in your workplace or suffering from stress and anxiety as a result of a workplace accident, we believe you have the right to claim compensation.

Needlestick injuries

Not only does the injured victim have to suffer the superficial injuries of being pricked by a needle, but they need to go through the worry of waiting to find out if they have contracted any other illness.

Cleaners, health staff and many others are at risk of needlestick injuries, which are often caused as a result of needles not being disposed of properly. Worryingly, however, needles can be found in many places from public toilets to bin bags with almost anyone at risk of needlestick.

There are ways to prevent needlestick injuries, such as the introduction of hypodermic needle and special needle only bins. Furthermore, employers are expected to offer the correct training to ensure the safe disposal of needles. No one should be expected to get rid of a needle unless they have been trained or properly informed of the procedure. While needlestick injuries are thankfully not too common, they do provide a large amount of risk to certain workers, especially in the health service.

What can you claim for in the workplace?

It is imperative to know what you are entitled to claim for in the event of an accident, as your employer’s duty of care extends to many aspects of work.

Not only are employers supposed to ensure you are safe in your workplace in regard to working conditions and safety equipment, but they also must protect you in regards to training. If your work environment is unsafe, or if you are undertrained for your role and injured as a result, your employer is failing in their duty of care, and you may be able to claim compensation.

While many injuries occur immediately after an accident, employers can be held accountable for any other injuries that you sustain as a result of your employment.

If you are unable to work because of your injury, you have the right to hold your employer to account. They will not be able to dismiss you as it would result in an unfair dismissal that you could also take legal action against.

Whether it be sick pay or a loss of income, if you have been involved in an accident in the workplace, our team of personal injury lawyers will strive to get you as much compensation as possible. If your work has been responsible for injuring you and you are missing out on employment, as a result, can you really afford not to claim compensation?

This article was written by by Personal Injury Solicitors of Leicester.

If you live and work in Leicester and would like to make a personal injury claim then please visit their website on: www.personalinjurysolicitorsleicester.co.uk

Anyone can claim compensation if they have been injured in an accident in the workplace that was not their fault. Regardless of whether it is the stress of whether an illness has been transmitted having been the victim of a needlestick injury, or if it is injury through a fall from height or use of dangerous equipment, if your employer failed in their duty of care, we can seek the compensation you deserve.

Car and road safety declines as children death rates rise

Statistics from the Department for Transport show that the number of child deaths and serious injuries on roads have risen for the first time since 1995 (view statistics). The figures indicate that the number of children under 16 killed or seriously injured (KSI) rose by 3% in the 12 months from September 2013 to September the following year.

Alarmingly, the figures did not point to a one-off, freak incident for the growth in the number of deaths and serious injuries on the road, but rather a rise in every quarter of 2014 in comparison to the previous year.

Was 2014 the roads’ most dangerous year?

The latest figures show a worrying trend for road users, with the vast majority of dangerous incidents on the rise in the UK. The total number of child casualties rose 6% with the total deaths of all road users rising by 1% to 1,730, whilst the number of slight injuries rose 5%.

The statistics also revealed dangers for other road users with the total number of cyclist casualties up by 8% and motorcyclist casualties rising by 6%.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) stated that the rise in the number of road and car accidents may be due to a lack of public spending and a reduction in the number of traffic police on the roads in the UK.

In a statement, the IAM said: “These figures reflect our view that cuts in visible policing and road safety spending has had an impact.”

The figures have been met with concern from road traffic safety groups and roadside organisations. The RAC said it was “alarming to see that years of progress on road safety appears to have come to an abrupt halt.”

Road safety charity Brake also criticised the figures stating that the casualty increases were “the tragic result of a failure of ambition.”

Bob Wilson of Personal Injury Bristol was equally despondent about these figures as he highlighted a rise in car accident claims that had personally come through to his own team.  He said “we have seen a spike over the last 24 months in car accident and road crash claims in Bristol.  Whilst this is a core aspect to our business, from a personal perspective it’s a very worrying trend if it’s also reflected on a national basis”.

First rise since 1995

The Department for Transport said: “These increases have now resulted in the first rise in rolling-year comparisons in child KSIs since the year ending March 1995.”

Transport minister Robert Goodwill said KSIs fell last summer compared with summer 2013 and felt that it was difficult to work out exactly why there had been a rise in the figures. He said: “Britain’s roads are still among the safest in the world and there are 40% fewer road deaths per year than a decade ago.

“There remains a significant long-term decline in casualties.”

Goodwill also stated that through cooperation with other agencies, and local police units, the Department for Transport would strive to reduce the alarming figures and promote better road awareness for all road users.

If you are involved in a road or car accident

Despite the vast amount of traffic on Britain’s roads, the UK has one of the best health and safety records in Europe. Whiplash and other road traffic injuries are one of the main causes of personal injuries in the UK, with some accidents having lasting effects.

If you are involved in an accident on the road it is imperative that you take note of as many details as possible in order to allow your personal injury solicitor to build the strongest possible case. Details such as where, when and how the accident occurred are essential.

Whiplash is one of the most common injuries to receive in a road traffic incident and usually occurs when one vehicle crashes into the back of the other. Whilst whiplash gets a typical negative press, it is still a serious injury that can cause damage to tendons and significantly reduce movements.

If you have the misfortune of suffering from an injury following a road traffic incident it is important to seek medical support, not only does this back up your claim if you make a personal injury claim, but by seeking the support and advice of a specialist, you will ensure that you get the best treatment for your injuries.

Article Written and Supplied by Personal Injury Bristol.  If you have suffered from a road or car accident in the last three years, then call their team today by calling 0117 911 4862 or by reading more about how they work on a no win no fee basis.  All of their solicitors and lawyers work on no win no fee agreements and specialises in road and car crash claims in the Bristol area. 

High Court ruling positive for mesothelioma sufferers

In 2013 the legal market in the UK changed dramatically after the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) was brought in. The act brought about changes to how personal injury and industrial illness claims could be funded, removing the ability for claimants to recover the full cost of bringing a claim from a defendant. Solicitors were also stopped from claiming a success fee from the defendant, with this cost being passed on to the claimants.

The new rules have been in place since April 2013, but one exception to the rule was made for those bringing mesothelioma compensation claims. The act maintained that mesothelioma claimants could still recover all of their costs from the defendant.

In 2014 the UK Government looked to remove the exemption, citing that a review had shown it was no longer needed. The mesothelioma victims support group fought the challenge and were successful, with the Judge stating that the review had not been properly conducted.

For the time being the compensation awards of thousands of people who have been impacted by mesothelioma following asbestos exposure have been safeguarded. It is clear though that the government believe the exception should be removed.

The rise of the machines and UK traffic accident claims

On 30 July the Business Secretary Vince Cable announced the that UK government has given the go ahead for the country to be among the first in the world to allow for testing of automated, driverless cars on its roads. The study will take place over a one year period within the next two years, as it is thought by 2020 it will be too late to compete with international players.

Under the scheme which is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Transport in association with the Technology Strategy Board three cities will share a £10 million fund to host the trials of the technology. Likely candidates are Liverpool, Milton Keynes, Bristol, Newcastle, Southampton, Leicester and York who all sent council representatives to the ‘Shaping a Driverless Car Pilot’ meeting in February 2014, who along with other representatives of industry, government and academia met to discuss the details of the study. The driverless car trials will begin in January 2015 and will last between 18 and 36 months.

International legal issues with driverless cars

So far there have been similar schemes established in California, Nevada and Florida in the US as well as in Japan and Sweden, who will are allowing up to 1000 driverless cars on its roads by 2017. However, Sweden’s flagship automotive manufacturer, Volvo tested its Safe Road Train for the Environment (SARTRE) system on the roads around Barcelona, Spain in 2012, so although there is a rush on to advance the technology there are some obstacles to it been implemented in certain countries.

A reason for this can be found in the 1968 United Nations Convention on Road Traffic, also known as the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. This convention set international legal standards for road traffic, such as vehicle registration, identification, technical requirements and driver certification and was signed or acceded to by most countries. A key part of the convention which has held back the progress of live driverless car research is the legal restriction which states, ‘every driver shall at all times be able to control his vehicle’; totally appropriate in 1968 when such things were in the realm of science fiction, but now a restrain on progress.

This explains why a Swedish firm conducted its tests abroad, as Spain along with the US and UK amongst others signed the treaty, but never ratified it into state law.  Countries with a strong motoring heritage such as Germany, France and Italy all ratified the treaty therefore placing a legislative block on the development of the autonomous cars by their manufacturers in their own countries. This may be a contributing factor to Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Nissan stating that they don’t believe totally autonomous cars will appear before 2015, or even before 2020.

The UK has made allowances for this in its launching of the scheme as there will be trials of both fully autonomous vehicles which don’t have a driver at all and semi-autonomous ones which have a driver on board. However, the prospect of vehicles on the roads without any driver, or without them being in fully control poses some interesting questions to a member of a road traffic accident solicitors firm like the one I work at.

Road traffic accident compensation claims of the future

The formulation of the legislation to govern driverless cars on UK roads will require the consultation of many groups such as insurers, highways agencies, local and national government as well as the law society, so at the moment we can only speculate on what the law will be. It is worth noting the views taken by the insurance industry on the matter, particularly after their influence on legislators in the introduction of the LASPO act as well as for whiplash claim reform.

The 1988 Road Traffic Act which governs UK road laws applies to ‘persons using’ a vehicle rather than them being, ‘able to control his [their] vehicle’ as the Vienna Convention states. This gives the government some room to manoeuvre in legislating for both fully and semi-autonomous vehicles. As the market is likely going to be filled with all manner of autonomous, semi-autonomous and traditional vehicles it is likely that there will need to be stipulations for the different types, which would entail their own regulations.

The law for drivers in traditional vehicles would likely remain the quite similar to that which exists currently, though the procedure following an accident would need amending to include interactions with non-humans or persons within a semi-autonomous vehicle.  With robotised vehicles having an array of sensors and black box type recording equipment large amounts of data from an accident will be available for one side and not the other. This may necessitate traditional cars having more event sensors and recording equipment on board to provide evidence.

In cases where there is a fully automated vehicle which is involved in an accident the liability under the current legislation would be theirs as they were ‘persons using’ the vehicle at the time even if they were not in control of it. This would need to be revised and it is likely that the liability for an accident under these circumstances would fall on the manufacturer of the vehicle as a product liability claim. This could create a situation where two passengers are in different vehicles are injured, with say a whiplash injury in an accident and both of them claim against the manufacturers of their vehicles.

Product liability would also be likely to be aspect of an accident compensation claim after an accident involving a semi-autonomous vehicle such as the convoy systems such a Volvo’s SARTRE. However, in these cases human fault could also be the reason for an accident and they could be liable for claims. There is a possibility for such cases to be very complicated, involving both the vehicles data and the evidence from humans involved as well as on-lookers. This could mean producer liability, human user liability or a combination.

The adoption of automated vehicles has also raised the possibility that our notions of vehicle ownership change, which would have legal repercussions. There is speculation that driverless cars may result in the pooling of vehicles by people, who have access for periods in the day, rather than outright ownership. In this scenario vehicles could be operated by vendors or hire companies, who would be liable should their vehicles be responsible for an accident.

The idea of driverless cars still seems like pure science fiction, straight out of the pages of Philip K Dick’s The Minority Report, but with the government using 2020 as a deadline for this technologies launch a futuristic world is nearly at hand. No doubt some of the issues I have examined here as well as many others will need much consideration and legislating for, which is great news for firms such as Paul Rooney Solicitors for whom I work.

As a keen motorcyclist I look forward to the rise of robotic cars, whose sensors and human error free systems should mean safer roads on which to ride; I don’t expect there to be any autonomous motorbikes any time soon though.

This article was written by personal injury compensation specialist solicitor  from Paul Rooney Legal.