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Personal Injury Law Journal: September 2014

Bill Braithwaite sets out the need to be cautious when dealing with insurers in rehabilitation cases

I’ve been writing and lecturing about rehabilitation for 20 years, and it is still interesting and important. Surprisingly, it is not common, in my opinion, for someone who has sustained catastrophic injury to receive top-quality, long-term rehab. Nowadays, an increasing trend is for insurers to become involved early, if they can, and to give the appearance (sometimes genuine) of wanting to support proper rehabilitation. If they are genuine, that is the best possible approach, because it means that both sides have to see the other’s point of view. The claimant and his or her family want the best package, and the insurer wants to avoid pouring money into a bottomless pit, with no measurable goals and targets. If the insurer is not genuine, they use it as a lever to manipulate the claimant into an unfavourable position. The difference over the last 20 years is that there are more genuine insurance companies in this field of work.

Suzanne Farg gives guidance on pursuing clinical negligence claims for ‘wrongful conception’ and ‘wrongful birth’

The essential characteristics of reproductive and antenatal medical treatment are such that negligence in these areas will often have further reaching implications for the patient and his or her family, than negligence in other areas of medicine.

Charles Dougherty QC and Isabel Barter offer a practical guide to the Consumer Protection Act 1987

Part 1 of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 (CPA), which implemented the European Directive of July 1985 (the directive), introduced a measure of strict liability into the product liability arena. It applies to any products supplied after 1 March 1988. This practical guide provides an overview of the key issues that arise in product liability claims under the CPA.

Paul Jones considers the risk factors the court will take into account

With the growth of fixed success fees and, indeed, the new rules regarding non-recoverability of success fees at all, one does not now often come across a decision which deals with the reasonableness of a success fee from first principles. The recent case of Bright v Motor Insurers Bureau [2014], however, did consider this issue and provides a helpful reminder of how the court considers risk as it relates to the reasonableness of a success fee.

Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992; breach of duty

In this case the Court of Appeal considered whether Mrs Recorder Stocken had correctly dismissed a claim for damages for personal injuries suffered at work based on a breach of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992.

Meningitis claims present very considerable challenges to clinical negligence lawyers. Julian Matthews looks at a recent decision which illustrates the difficulties, and the importance of clear evidence and analysis

Meningitis is a disease that is widely feared, particularly by parents of vulnerable children, teenagers and young adolescents, but is a disease that can affect anyone, and may not have severe consequences. The meaning of the term is simply inflammation of the meninges. The meninges are the three layers of tissue that surround the brain and spinal cord. The middle layer is called the arachnoid, below which cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) circulates. Meningitis occurs when infective agents (usually bacterial) cross into the CSF and lead to irritation or swelling of the membranes, and can lead on to inflammatory swelling of the brain itself (encephalitis). This process, if not interrupted, can lead (in some cases very rapidly) to neurological impairment, damage to the brain, and ultimately death. Everyone is familiar with the stories of extremely healthy babies and teenagers who have died or been left with severe neurological impairment as a result of meningitis after a short course of illness. Parents are taught to look out for the cardinal signs of meningitis in babies and children to try and minimise the delay between onset of symptoms and treatment. Given this it is inevitable that where there has been a serious outcome from such an illness and the medical services have been engaged but have not picked up that the illness is present at the first opportunity, the focus of attention will turn to whether a claim can be made for compensation in respect of any delay in diagnosis, referral or treatment.

Richard Partridge concludes his advice on representing interested parties, in the second part of his article on the coronial process

The first part of this article looked at preparation, expert witnesses and applying for adjournments when the coronial process is triggered. This part concludes with advice on advocacy, coroners and witnesses, and dealing with conclusions and reports.