LIFE BITE : APIL encourage motorists to ‘back off’ this winter

apple-150579_1280Needless injuries and deaths on NI roads could be reduced this winter if motorists keep their bad habits in check, say campaigners.

The national average number of people killed or injured in snowy, icy and wet weather in Britain is 81 for every 100,000 people according to new figures obtained by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

“Some injuries could have been easily avoided had it not been for bad habits such as driving too close to the car in front,” said APIL president Neil Sugarman.

“According to the Highway Code the average stopping distance, when driving at 30mph on dry roads, is six car lengths. In wet weather this doubles and when it is icy it is ten times longer. Taking care to avoid bad habits like ‘tailgating’ could make a big difference in preventing injuries, and even deaths, on our roads this winter”.

In a recent online poll of motorists, APIL found that two-thirds (67%) do not know how much to space to leave between the car in front when travelling in ice and snow.

This year, the message from APIL is a revival of the anti-tailgating “Back Off” campaign, encouraging a reduction in needless injuries by stopping collisions from happening in the first place

APIL will be sharing safe driving tips and information on their ‘Back Off’ Facebook page and tweeting on the @APIL account all week.  You can find the ‘Back Off Facebook page  here

APIL is a non-profit campaign organisation which has been fighting for the rights of injured people for over 25 years. For more information on the organisation, click here
If you have been involved in a road traffic accident and would like more information on your rights, please feel free to contact us below or email us 

Holiday Insurance When Travelling Abroad

summerhols

It’s the holiday season and we are all no doubt eager to escape the grey skies of Northern Ireland and head abroad for a week or two of tropical sunshine and relaxation.

While giving careful thought to what factor of sun lotion to bring, you may also want to ensure you have good holiday insurance in place.

It is important to make sure that you are aware of local laws and customs when you travel, to avoid invalidating any insurance policy you have.

Jonathan Wheeler, Vice-President of The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (‘APIL’)* has said:-

“Just because you have insurance cover does not mean you don’t have to be responsible for your own behaviour. In fact you could unwittingly invalidate your insurance if you break the law or are disorderly,”

“Many travel insurance policies carry exemptions if you do something illegal. Jaywalking for example, isn’t illegal in the UK but it is in some overseas countries,”

“If you cross the road when the light is on red, you face a fine – which you could do without on holiday.”

“But in the worst case scenario, you could be knocked down by a car and find that your insurer is not obliged to cover you for medical bills, or to get you home, or to pursue a case for compensation if someone else is negligent and injures you”.

Jaywalking is an offence in most US states, and destinations popular with hen and stag parties such as the Czech Republic and Poland.

The sun-seekers out there should be aware that Greece also has some strict laws relating to taste and decency, which can carry hefty fines. Even some fancy dress costumes may be regarded as offensive and violate the law.

In Mallorca and Barcelona, sunbathers who leave the beach still stripped to their swimwear could be fined as much as £500. And driving penalties in Spain can be much tougher than in the UK – just 1km per hour above the speed limit can result in a fine of around £400 for a tourist.

“If you’ve had a run-in with the law while you’re overseas, however small, it might be held against you if you need to make a claim for something,” adds Jonathan.

“It’s easy to throw caution to the wind when on holiday but it’s worth knowing the local laws and customs before you set off.

Be responsible for yourself and show respect for your foreign hosts”.

Happy Holidays!

MHannaBy Martin Hanna

Partner

Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors

For more information on this area, please feel free to  contact Martin by email at mhanna@fhanna.co.uk or alternatively please leave us your comments below
*APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) is a not-for-profit organisation whose members are dedicated to campaigning for improvements in the law to help people who are injured or become ill through no fault of their own.

Hitting the slopes this Ski Season? Ensure you’re Insured!

snow-mountains-winter-sportIt seems like only a moment has passed since Christmas yet here we are at mid-term break again. As the school break conveniently coincides with European ski season, many of us may take the opportunity to go ‘off piste’ by heading to the ski slopes for long weekend of snowboarding and après ski.

Whilst we do not wish put a damper on the fun and enjoyment gained from skiing, it is important to be aware if you are heading to the slopes this year that if you fail to take notice of standard safety rules and mountain etiquette whilst skiing, you could find yourself held liable for injuries that may be caused as a result.

Following Michael Schumacher’s accident in December 2013, there has been increased awareness of ski safety and much higher numbers wearing ski helmets.  Still, statistics from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office show that 40% of skiers and snowboarders have been injured at least once and almost one-third of those have suffered a significant injury, such as a broken leg.  It is one thing injuring yourself, but what if your actions cause injury to someone else?!

Deborah Evans, chief executive of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyer (APIL)* explains;   “Over-zealous skiers and snowboarders who put speed before safety and disregard standard rules, such as giving priority to skiers in front, risk causing serious injuries to others.”

Deborah has likened skiing collisions to road traffic accidents and calls for those travelling abroad to ski this season to ensure that they have the appropriate insurance cover in place;-

“Ignoring the rules of the mountain, like the road, could make you at fault if you collide with a fellow skier. Assuming you’ve taken out the appropriate winter sports cover, your insurer should cover the help and assistance the injured person needs, such as medical bills and repatriation if it happens abroad. That doesn’t alter that fact that you still will have caused unnecessary suffering which could have been avoided.

If you are in a collision, you need to treat it in the same way as you would if you were driving – call for help and swap insurance details”.

So before you pack the hats, boots and goggles (not to mention skis!) it is both sensible and advisable to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance over in place to protect yourself against any potential legal action in the event of an accident. And if you are injured as a result of someone else’s actions make sure that you get their details at the time of the accident.

For more information on this area, please feel free to contact us by email or alternatively please leave us your comments below
*APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) is a not-for-profit organisation whose members are dedicated to campaigning for improvements in the law to help people who are injured or become ill through no fault of their own.

LIFE BITE: DOJ announces increase in amount of Bereavement Damages

apple-150579_1280Today, the Northern Ireland Department of Justice has announced that bereavement damages available in Northern Ireland are to be increased from £11,800 to £14,400.

This follows the consultation launched by the Department in October 2015 about whether the level of compensation payable to families whose loved ones have been needlessly killed in Northern Ireland should be increased.  The DOJ consultation paper stated that any increase in the bereavement damages should either bring Northern Ireland in line with England and Wales at £12,980, or with the level of inflation, estimated at £14,339.

After consultation, the Department has agreed that bereavement damages in Northern Ireland will be increased by inflation, rounded to the nearest £100, and will be adjusted every three years. Northern Ireland will now have higher bereavement damages than England and Wales.  The system in Scotland remains that each case is judged and evaluated on its own merits.

Martin Hanna, NI representative of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and partner in Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors says:

“This is a fantastic result for Northern Ireland citizens who up to now received less bereavement damages in Northern Ireland than anyone else in the United Kingdom. Whilst no amount of money can ever replace a loved one, bereavement damages do at least acknowledge that a death has been caused needlessly.  The level of payment previously available was woefully inadequate and so the DOJ announcement of this increase is a step in the right direction.”

For more information on bereavement damages, feel free to contact Martin at mhanna@fhanna.co.uk or contact us at Life Law Ni here

LIFE BITE: Bereaved NI families lose out in compensation ‘lottery’

apple-150579_1280Compensation for families whose loved ones have been needlessly killed in Northern Ireland is ‘wretchedly inadequate’, say lawyers as they urge for the level of payment to bereaved families to be increased.

 

On Monday 5th October 2015, the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched a consultation about whether the level of bereavement damages, which currently stands at £11,800, should be increased.

Martin Hanna, NI representative of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and partner in Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors says:-

“Bereft families deserve better from the justice system when their loved ones’ deaths could and should have been avoided. As it stands, the payment is wretchedly inaccurate, so we welcome any progress on rectifying this”.

“Bereavement damages in the UK are a lottery based on where the death happens. The level of payment is at its lowest in Northern Ireland at £11,800, and is nearly £1,200 more in England and Wales. In Scotland, the system is much fairer, with each case judged and evaluated on its own merits.” 

The DOJ consultation paper says that any increase in the payment should either bring Northern Ireland in line with England and Wales at £12,980, or with the level of inflation, estimated at £14,339.

Mr Hanna added:

“No amount of money can ever replace a loved one, but bereavement damages do at least acknowledge that a death has been caused needlessly. This issue with the level of payment is not about replacing what is lost, but about looking after those left behind,”

The DOJ consultation closes on 30 November 2015

If you would like to learn more about the consultation paper, it can be found at http://www.dojni.gov.uk/index/public-consultations/current-consultations/bereavement-damages-consultation.pdf

For any further information on you and your family’s legal right to bereavement damages,  please feel free to contact us below or alternatively , email us at kconnolly@fhanna.co.uk