Month: August 2020

August marks Road Victim Awareness Month

The month of August marks National Road Victim Month, a campaign set up by national charity RoadPeace to raise awareness and remember the people who have tragically lost their lives as a result of road traffic incidents.

 

The charity selected August as the month of remembrance to memorialise the lives of Princess Diana, who lost her life in a road traffic collision on 31 August 1997, Bridget Driscoll, the first person to be killed by a motor vehicle in August 1896, and over half a million people who have been killed on Britain’s roads since Bridget’s death.

 

HOW IS ROAD VICTIM AWARENESS MONTH MARKED ACROSS THE COUNTRY?

 

The annual day of remembrance was set to take place on 31 August 2020 at Liverpool Cathedral, but due to COVID-19, the service will instead be available to watch on YouTube from 2pm. A Justice for Crash Victims Webinar, also made by RoadPeace, explores how the justice system affects crash victims, and is available to watch here.

 

HOW MANY PEOPLE SUFFER FROM ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS EACH YEAR?

 

There were 1,748 reported road deaths in the UK 2019, and 153,315 casualties of all severities in reported road traffic incidents, which marks a 5% improvement on the previous year.

 

However, Niamh Wilson Head of Civil Litigation at Hampson Hughes explains that whilst these figures are positive, we shouldn’t become complacent: “Whilst these overall figures show a step in the right direction for road users and pedestrians alike, we are also seeing an increased number of vehicles such as bicycles and electric scooters navigating Britain’s roads, and quite often without proper knowledge of the highway code.

 

“With inexperienced road users, we’re unfortunately likely to see a rise in future road traffic accidents, and over the years we have worked with so many cases that highlight the devastating impact road traffic incidents can have the lives of everyone involved.

 

“The service that RoadPeace offers in supporting affected families is invaluable, and Hampson Hughes is supportive of National Victim Awareness month.”

 

At Hampson Hughes, our personal injury team work tirelessly to successfully claim compensation for victims who have suffered as a result of road traffic accidents. Over the past 10 years, we have settled over 37,000 road traffic accident cases, helping families achieve the financial support they deserve.

 

Recently, we settled a claim for cyclist, Pat, from Bootle. While cycling home from work, he suffered a collision from a car who hit him due to the driver failing to give way to him as he travelled straight across a roundabout. Sadly, he suffered a fractured skull, dislocated right shoulder, broken ribs, fractured collar bone and skin abrasions. Fortunately, he made a fantastic recovery and was fully healed within two years of the accident.

 

Following a court case, we settled his claim for £25,000. This covered his costs for physiotherapy post-accident, as well as for his bike plus further compensation for damages.

 

Another of our clients was awarded £14,891 last year after she was hit from behind at high speed whilst stationary at a pelican crossing, causing her to be shunted into the vehicle in front. As a result of the incident, our client suffered a squashed vertebra, fractured upper lumbar spine, and soft tissue damage to her back, neck and shoulders.

 

HAVE YOU BEEN INJURED IN A ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENT?

 

If you’ve been injured on the road due to an accident that wasn’t your fault, then you could be entitled to claim road traffic accident compensation. Whether you’ve suffered a minor injury or something more serious, our Road Traffic Accident Solicitors can help you to claim the compensation that you deserve.

Call 0800 888 6888 or send an email to info@hampsonhughes.com.

Britain’s Bike Boom: Do you know how to stay safe on the road?

The government has committed £2bn to boost the number of people cycling across the country over the next five years.

 

As part of its ambitious plans to “build a healthier, more active nation”, it has pledged to overhaul the Highway Code and enforce quality control on new cycle lanes in an effort to make UK roads safer for cyclists. While it clearly recognises that public safety is a key priority, more education is needed among drivers and cyclists to address these safety concerns.

Lockdown encouraged millions of us to take to our bikes and it’s no wonder the government wants to continue this upward spiral – cycling alleviates pressure on crowded public transport systems and congested roads and switching from cars to bikes is one of the easiest, cheapest ways to cut emissions. But, there are still fears among cyclists about the lack of cycling infrastructure and a poll in 2009 revealed that almost 60 per cent of people are put off cycling by the idea of sharing the road with lorries or reckless drivers.

As more and more novice cyclists take to roads up and down the country, we ask how strong is their knowledge of the Highway Code now they’re on two wheels?

 

SO, WHY DO WE NEED TO KNOW THE RULES OF CYCLING?

With the Prime Minister actively encouraging more bums on bicycle seats, we can expect to see the number of cyclists on our roads continue to increase as we ease out of lockdown.

This is a potential issue for a few reasons, though. While the Highway Code is tested for car drivers, no test is required to if we want to pick up a bike and get cycling. This, in turn, could mean a high number of new cyclists who have little knowledge of their rights on the road.

Not only that, but many of these new cyclists will have enjoyed travelling on previously very empty streets in the midst of lockdown. How will they fare when moved to busy roads and faced with congested junctions, and how will drivers cope with more people on the roads?

The government has promised to set out plans that will force local authorities to build new high quality cycle infrastructure – with a strong preference for segregated lanes. It has even revealed plans to give cyclists the right to ride in the wrong direction on one-way streets and proposed to reduce ‘unnecessary motorised freight’ like lorries and vans in UK cities and towns, by shipping freight to out-of-town depots. Our Head of Litigation Niamh Wilson was recently quoted in the Daily Mail exploring these topics in more detail.

Overall, these measures are welcome, but they will take time and even with these in place there needs to be more education and clearer messaging around safety awareness, so cyclists and drivers are fully aware of the rules of the road and the severity of the potential consequences if they are not followed.

 

COULD WE SEE AN INCREASE IN ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS?

With inexperienced cyclists, we’re likely to see a rise in road traffic accidents, sadly. We already see huge numbers of road traffic accidents involving cyclists, where both the cyclist and car user have been at fault.

Recently, we settled a claim for cyclist, Pat from Bootle. While cycling home from work, he suffered a collision from a car who hit him due to the driver failing to give way to him as he travelled straight across a roundabout. Sadly, he suffered a fractured skull, dislocated right shoulder, broken ribs, fractured collar bone and skin abrasions. Fortunately, he made a fantastic recovery and was fully healed within two years of the accident.

Following a court case, we settled his claim for £25,000. This covered his costs for physiotherapy post-accident, as well as for his bike plus further compensation for damages.

 

DO YOU KNOW THE RULES OF THE ROAD?

While many of us should, hopefully, be very aware of the Highway Code for drivers, just how good is our knowledge of the rules for the road as a cyclist?

With conflating public opinion on cycling issues like, can you cycle on the pavement, do you legally have to wear a helmet and more, we’re putting the question to the public – give it a go and let us know how you get on…

Help us find out how well you know the rules of the road with this quick, fun quiz.

Have you been injured in a Road Traffic Accident?

If you’ve been injured on the road due to an accident that wasn’t your fault, then you could be entitled to claim road traffic accident compensation. Whether you’ve suffered a minor injury or something more serious, our Road Traffic Accident Solicitors can help you to claim the compensation that you deserve.

Call 0800 888 6888 or send an email to info@hampsonhughes.com.

Medomsley Detention Centre – Compensation for Abuse Victims

Medomsley Detention Centre in County Durham was a correctional facility for young male offenders, operating from 1961 until the late 1980s. It was created to provide an alternative prison for boys and young men aged 17-21, with the aim of deterring inmates from committing more serious crimes later in life.

 

WHAT HAPPENED AT MEDOMSLEY?

 

Reports of physical abuse started to emerge in 1967, when David Watkins MP raised concerns about the treatment of inmates at the facility, after hearing claims from a mother that her teenage son was subjected to repeated beatings. The victim spent five weeks in hospital receiving treatment.

 

Mr Watkins took his complaint to the then Home Secretary but was told the claim was unsubstantiated. The matter was not pursued.

 

However, in 2003, prison officer Neville Husband was convicted of raping inmates throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He was suspected of operating as part of a paedophile ring and further investigations led to the arrest of Leslie Johnson, a storeman at Medomsley.

 

In 2013, Durham Police Force launched ‘Operation Seabrook’ to investigate allegations of sexual and physical abuse, primarily in the 1970s and 1980s. To date, 1,848 men have come forward to police to report allegations of abuse while detained at the centre.

 

Both Husband and Johnson have since died in prison of natural causes, and further cases have been brought against other staff members working at the centre.

 

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MEDOMSLEY VICTIMS?

 

It is believed that hundreds of boys and young men suffered at the hands of abusive staff at Medomsley, with a ‘short, sharp shock’ policy implemented to steer offenders away from a life of crime. However, the regime was, in fact, described as brutal and violent.

 

For some, the ordeal stretched to sexual abuse, with victims being raped ‘almost on a daily basis’.

 

Victims later told how their experiences there have had a major impact on the rest of their lives, with some reporting they hadn’t slept well for more than 30 years due to the severe anxiety and stress it caused.

 

HOW HAVE VICTIMS BEEN COMPENSATED?

 

It is estimated that In excess of £3 million has been awarded in out-of-court settlements to the victims of physical and sexual abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre.

 

Those who were physically abused can apply for between £1,750 and £5,000 subject to the amount of time served in Medomsley and permanent nature of injuries sustained.

 

Among those who suffered is victim Gary Wallace, who told the BBC that some wardens were “definitely sadistic”. He said: “If they did go a bit over and give you a black eye and you were due a visit they would cancel the visit by saying you weren’t too well, or you didn’t want to see them.”

 

WHAT TO DO IF YOU WERE A VICTIM AT MEDOMSLEY?

 

At Hampson Hughes, we have a team of highly experienced legal experts, who have acted for many victims of physical and sexual abuse, including those affected by the traumatic events at Medomsley Detention Centre. We recognise the trauma survivors have to deal with on a daily basis and handle all cases in a sensitive and confidential manner.

 

We are here to listen, advise and support you every step of the way. We provide access to the support services you need and ensure you achieve the compensation you deserve, so you can start to seek a sense of justice and closure.

 

For further information and free, no-obligation advice, contact our team on 0800 888 6888 or find about more about our work supporting victims of criminal injury and sexual abuse.

E-scooters: are they safe enough for our roads?

They’ve been hailed by some as the answer to both the climate change issue and the spread of Coronavirus, but are we really ready for electric scooters and, importantly, are they safe?

The UK’s first-ever pilot scheme of e-scooters was launched last month in Middlesborough, with hopes of getting people off buses as we battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

 

SO, WHAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH E-SCOOTERS?

The vehicles, which can reach speeds of 12mph, were given the go-ahead by the Government in July, but a second trial period in Hartlepool was abandoned following the mis-use of 50 e-scooters in Middlesborough.

Incidents included teenagers riding them on busy, 70mph roads and underage users zooming through shopping malls, putting pedestrians at risk.

It had originally been the plan to start with 50 vehicles in Middlesborough and Hartlepool, before increasing this number to 1,000 across the wider area, according to The Independent. However, the vehicles have since been labelled by a local MP as “useful as chocolate fireguard”.

And, recent mis-use could also have a knock-on effect to insurance premiums for drivers, with claims set to soar to between £200 million and £2 billion a year, according to the Motor Insurer’s Bureau.

In the UK, the insurance industry pays for all incidents involving uninsured vehicles, not just cars. It means they are also liable for collisions involving golf buggies, ride-on lawn mowers, quad bikes and e-scooters.

As such, motorists could expect to be paying up to £50 more for their annual insurance policy.

 

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE BEFORE E-SCOOTERS ARE ROLLED OUT?

With e-scooters being a very new way to travel and still in trial periods, we need to consider the impact they’ll have on both motorists and pedestrians, as well as those riding the scooters.

Our head of civil litigation, Niamh Wilson, said: “Before e-scooters are rolled out any further, we need more clarity on the rules of their usage. While we need to consider the safety of those using e-scooters, as well as pedestrians, we also need to think about the impact they could have on motorists’ safety.

“While they’re not meant to be driven any faster than, say, 12mph, there are clear examples of people flouting this rule and putting themselves and others at risk of injury.

“Questions around whether e-scooter users have to obey the Highway Code need to be addressed and communicated properly to all road users, with strict measures in place to ensure people adhere to the rules.

“Of course, there are many benefits to using e-scooters and we’d welcome their correct usage, but we certainly need clearer messages.”

 

If you’d like to know more about claiming for a road traffic accident, get in touch with our experts or call us on 0800 880 7862.

My journey to becoming a qualified solicitor

Potentially the biggest step in your legal career when striving to become a solicitor is the final stretch; completing your training contract.

Lisa Kane, who works on our medical negligence team officially entered the roll in July 2020. We spoke to her to find out more about her journey into law and what comes next for her as a fully qualified solicitor.


Congratulations on qualifying! How are you going to celebrate?

I plan to take a trip home to Ireland once the travel restrictions are lifted to visit family and friends where we will have a celebration (socially-distanced of course!)

 

What are you most looking forward to now you have qualified?

I am looking forward to providing excellent client care to those who suffered life-changing injuries as a result of medical negligence. I have always had a keen interest in this areas of law. I feel I can make a real difference to people’s lives by helping them settle their claim and draw a line under that difficult part in their life.

I hope to continue my career in the clinical negligence industry and look forward to gaining more exposure to a wide range of different cases, whilst improving my existing skillset with the support of my wonderful colleagues.

 

What challenges did you face during your training contract?

One challenge I faced was transitioning between departments to enhance my exposure to different legal areas. I have also faced difficult emotional conversations with clients who have experienced family bereavements or severe medical trauma, however, I have successfully dealt with these conversations with excellent feedback. This has helped to improve my interpersonal skills and build relationships with clients, which is vital for case progression.

I have always embraced challenges and feel they have made me a more versatile solicitor who is happy to apply my knowledge from these experiences to any new challenges that may arise.

 

Why did you choose Hampson Hughes to complete your training contract?

I began my employment at Hampson Hughes in July 2015 as a paralegal and I immediately felt at home with my team, who helped me settle into the role straight away. My colleagues also supported me throughout my studies over the following years and were always on hand to offer guidance during my progression in the firm.

Hampson Hughes is a leading name in the legal world with a focus on client care, so I knew that the firm was the right place for me to obtain my training contract!

 

What is your greatest achievement at Hampson Hughes?

My greatest achievement to date as a trainee solicitor was successfully challenging a provisional assessment costs award where the defendant, a Grade A Solicitor with over ten years’ experience, had made an application to strike out a default costs certificate as he had failed to comply with the relevant practice direction.

I had to draft a series of lengthy written submissions to the court based upon the Civil Procedure Rules, case law and the defendant’s conduct. During the application hearing, the court ruled in my favour and awarded my costs of the action in addition to enforcement fees totalling around £12,000 for the firm.

I was very pleased with this result as my opponent was vastly more experienced than me, yet I was able to successfully demonstrate to the court that his conduct was improper and the outcome was a great victory for the firm.

 

Finally, what piece of advice would you give to aspiring solicitors?

My best advice would be to try and gain as much exposure as possible to a variety of different areas of law during your training contract. This will provide you with a better understanding of which area you want to pursue once you are qualified, whilst also giving you the opportunity to learn new skills and broaden your knowledge of the legal industry!

 

Want to find out more about our team? Check out our blogs for the latest from our staff whether they’re writing about ongoing cases, or sharing advice to those aspiring to begin a legal career.