Scottish police warn plan to cut speed cameras will risk lives

Scotland’s top police officers have said they would be concerned if funding for speed cameras became a victim of government budget cuts.

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) spoke out toady after its sister organisation claimed lives would be put at risk as a result of UK Government spending cuts to the network south of the border.

Mick Giannasi, who leads on road policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), which represents officers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, said he was trying to persuade Conservative and Liberal Democrat ministers to protect the cameras “for the future of our road safety”.

Last month it emerged that Oxfordshire County Council was switching off all 72 of its fixed speed cameras as part of moves to save money, with other local authorities south of the border are also considering similar action. The UK Government cut £38million from this year’s road safety budget and ended central funding for speed cameras.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of road-safety charity Brake echoed the calls. She said: “We agree with Mick Giannasi that if we do see speed cameras removed on a large scale, which seems likely to happen, it’s going to be a devastating blow to road safety. We know that cameras are very effective in cutting speeding which is vital for protecting all road users.”

Having seen the devasting results of reckless driving, Bonnar & Company echoes the views of road safety expertsspeed kills.

If you or a member of your family have been involved in a road traffic accident caused by a speeding driver please contact our personal injury specialists for FREE expert legal advice and practical assistance. For a no obligation review of your claim please call freephone 0800 163 978. 

Dog attacks in Edinburgh hit record high

Incredibly, more than 100 dog attacks have taken place in Edinburgh during the past six months, including one where a 12-month-old baby was bitten, it was revealed today.

The shocking figure, which includes attacks against children, adults and other animals, is twice the amount recorded in the whole of 2009 and clearly highlights a growing and very serious problem. The figures show that only one of the dogs involved in the 102 attacks recorded since January 1 was on a lead and all but 36 of the incidents happened in public spaces such as on roads and pavements, in parks or in open fields

Last year 52 dog attacks were recorded by Lothian and Borders police. In 2008 around 43 attacks were reported. The attacks this year included 26 bites to children, 30 to adults and 39 to other dogs. Four cats and two swans were killed. A one-year-old was bitten and a toddler was also attacked but only around 12 people were charged for owning dangerous animals and only two of the animals were put down.

Scottish SPCA Chief Inspector Mike Flynn today said the number – which is the highest in at least five years – showed that people needed to drastically change their attitudes to owning and training dogs.

He said the new Control of Dogs Bill, set to come into force next year, was a much-needed change to the law and would ensure owners kept their pets under control. However, his use of the word ‘pet’ to describe for example a pit bull bred for fighting is a complete misnomer as these dogs are primarily status symbols used to intimidate and terrorise.     

At present, making a claim for compensation following a dog attack in Scotland can be difficult as the process is often hampered by the problem of identifying the owner and proving that the animal is dangerous.

Bonnar & Company believes that the passing of the Control of Dogs Bill in Scotland is a welcome step in helping innocent victims of dog attacks in Scotland achieve justice and financial compensation for their injuries because it means that every dog, every owner and every location, including previously ‘exempt’ private homes, will now be included in the provisions of the new Act, which will come into force next February.

If you or  a member of your family would like to discuss your legal options arisng from a dog attack, then please call us FREE on 0800 163 978 for a no obligation case review.

BP to offer one-off payments if claimants waive right to sue

In the hope of drawing  a line under the crisis and in an attempt to quantify total costs, BP has announced its intention to cap its liabilities from the Gulf of Mexico disaster by offering those affected one-off compensation payouts in return for them waiving the right to sue.

Tens of thousands of affected people in the Gulf, particularly those in the fishing and tourism industries, are weeks away from bankruptcy but it is very difficult to calculate future lost earnings. There is also no way for claimants to know if they can expect more compensation if they sue BP in the courts…but that, of course, would appear to be the idea.

Ken Feinberg, who was appointed by the White House in June to administer the claims process on behalf of BP, will take charge within the next three weeks. BP has committed to pay $20bn into the fund in a series of instalments over the next three and a half years. When he takes over this month, for the first time claimants will be offered a one-off sum based on their future lost earnings, provided they agree not to sue BP as the company seeks to re-build its reputation.

“The fund will offer lump sum payments in return for an agreement not to pursue claims in court,” a spokeswoman said. Claimants will also be able to receive an emergency payout to cover their lost income for up to six months without waiving their right to sue BP. Claims from those directly affected by the spill, such as fishermen, will qualify but uncertainty surrounds those more indirectly affected. For example, many owners of beach apartments in Florida – even where no oil hit the shore – face bankruptcy because holidaymakers stayed away. It seems that a scheme designed to simplify and fast-track compensation payments may not be quite so simple after all.

In our view in its highly regrettable that the media spotlight continues to be targeted at the environmental cost of the oil spill whilst the 11 workers who died in the explosion receive scarcely a single reference by comparison. Let’s hope that the fate of the wrongful death and personal injury compensation claims on behalf of the victims’ families is monitored with the same level of scrutinty as the thousands of loss of earnings claims. 

Insurance industry victimises personal injury claimants in new report

When will the insurance industry stop blaming personal injury solicitors for rising premiums?

Today’s report by the Association of British Insurers claims that the rise of a litigation or “ambulance-chasing” legal culture in Britain is playing its part in the rise of artificial claims.

The ABI’s own figures show that in 2009 a grand total of 4% of ALL claims were fraudulent and that the most common frauds were bogus or exaggerated claims on claims on household policies.

A key point worth stressing and always overlooked by the industry is that, by definition, fraudulent claims do not succeed. Or perhaps I am missing the point. Is the insurance industry really saying that it is paying out on claims known to be fraudulent?

As all reasonable people will understand, personal injury solicitors actually play an important part in identifying and weeding out bogus claims. As a firm Bonnar & Company actually receives very, very few enquiries relating to what might be called ‘dodgy’ claims. The small number of dubious claims that do come our way are quickly rooted out and the claimants are sent packing, pronto.

The fact remains that a claimant for personal injury compensation has to prove that their accident was the result of someone else’s negligence.  As accident and personal injury compensation claim solicitors, our number one job is to evaluate personal injury cases and gather the evidence necessary to support our client’s claim. It is inconceivable that we would spend a second longer than is necessary on a bogus claim when we are busy working on behalf of genuine accident and injury victims and their families.

If you have ever tried claiming on your own household policy for genuine accidental damage just imagine for a moment how difficult it can be to claim AGAINST the insurer of another member of the public or a company for pain, suffering and loss sustained as a result of an accident or industrial illness.   

So, I ask the question once more…

Where are all the successful bogus personal injury compensation claims and where are the lawyers that are making them?

If you or a member of your family would like to discuss your genuine claim for compensation with a qualified, regulated and experienced personal injury solicitor, then please call us FREE on 0800 163 978 for no obligation EXPERT legal advice.

BP rig alarm system bypassed for a year claims engineer

A chief engineer on the doomed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig has told federal investigators that fire and gas-leak alarms had been turned off for at least a year because the platform’s managers didn’t want workers’ sleep disturbed by false alarms.

The alarm system could have alerted the crew to shut down the rig’s engines to prevent triggering an explosion of natural gas that had surged up from the mile-deep well, according to Mike Williams, the chief engineer tech who worked for rig owner Transocean, which was drilling for BP. He testified to a panel from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Interior Department.

He said: “I discovered it was ‘inhibited’ about a year ago, so I inquired. The explanation I got was that from the offshore installation manager down, they did not want people to wake up at 3 a.m. due to false alarm.”

Williams said he complained repeatedly, from six months to three days before the rig exploded April 20 and sank two days later, killing 11 workers and causing the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. He said the emergency shutdown system had problems previously.

If this allegation turns out to be true, such actions reveal a truly appalling sense of priority on the part of senior management. To bet the health and safety of the rig workers against the possibility of a disturbed night’s sleep counts as a staggering dereliction of the duty of care owed to employees. Oil rigs are dangerous places and when accidents happen they are invariably very serious indeed – that is why the industry’s health and safety standards have to be very high.

Bonnar & Company specialises in dangerous workplace accident claims. Our expert legal team can be contacted on FREEPHONE 0800 163 978.