Fatal accident news

 

Is the Boyes Turner personal injury team right for you?

When someone has suffered a personal injury it is essential that they pick the right solicitor to assist them with their claim.

Carefully selecting the correct solicitor will ensure that you have:

  1. Access to up to date legal advice.
  2. Advice from a large network of specialists that we work with, such as medical experts, barristers, financial and welfare benefit advisors, employment and educational experts, housing and conveyancing specialists, and more.
  3. Access to specialist care and rehabilitation providers to assist you in your recovery journey.
  4. A speedy conclusion of your claim.
  5. Peace of mind that you will receive the compensation you need to secure your future.

No two claims are the same, even if the injuries are similar or if they were injured in the same accident. Thankfully Boyes Turner’s team of dedicated personal injury specialists are able to advise on all types of personal injury claims from minor injuries right through to life changing injuries such as brain injuries, spinal injuries and amputations.

Below we give you a quick introduction to the partners in the team and the specialisms they hold.

Kim Smerdon

Kim Smerdon leads Boyes Turner’s highly regarded personal injury team. A specialist in catastrophic injury cases, Kim acts for clients with acquired brain damage, spinal injuries and serious orthopaedic injuries.

Kim has extensive experience of all types of personal injury cases and has acted for clients who have been injured in road traffic accidents, in the workplace, as a result of defective products and criminal injuries.

A keen charity fundraiser, Kim recently completed the 3 Peaks Challenge, climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon in 24 hours to raise over £35,000 for The Debbie Fund, a charity set up to raise funds for research into cervical cancer.

Kim is a member of the Law Society’s Personal Injury Panel and an accredited senior litigator and brain injury specialist with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). She is an associate member of the Child Brain Injury Trust, and a member of the Brain Injury Social Work Group, Headway and Spinal Injuries Panel Solicitors. She is a Headway Life Member, a trustee of Headway Thames Valley and trustee of the Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust, a charity committed to saving young people’s lives by promoting safer cycling and benefits of using a cycle helmet. 

Claire Roantree

As a partner in Boyes Turner’s highly regarded personal injury team, Claire acts for clients with life-changing injuries, such as mild to very severe brain injury, spinal cord injury, amputation, severe burns, complex orthopaedic and musculoskeletal injury, chronic pain and PTSD. 

Claire works closely with the defendant insurers, using the Rehabilitation Code and securing interim payments to provide her injured clients with the treatment, care, facilities and support that they need to get their rehabilitation underway straight away, without losing valuable recovery time whilst waiting for final settlement at the conclusion of the claim. Working with experts in a variety of medical and therapeutic disciplines, professional case managers and carers, the client’s immediate needs are prioritised – recovery and rehabilitation – whilst the claim is quantified to make maximum provision  for their future needs for ongoing care, support and financial security.

A keen charity supporter and fundraiser she has used her love of running and walking to fundraise for The Children's Trust, Tadworth. She has run events for Headway SW London for whom she was a trustee for six years. She is a trustee for Cycle Smart and supports the charity’s campaign to raise cycling safety awareness and reduce road traffic accidents. 

Claire is a member of the Law Society's Personal Injury Panel, APIL (Brain Injury Specialist Interest Group), Headway and ABIL (Acquired Brain Injury across London).

As you can see there is no type of claim that the team cannot handle and together they are confident that they can assist you in achieving the best recovery possible as well as the justice and compensation you deserve.

If you would like to speak to our specialist personal injury team please do not hesitate to contact us for a free no obligation advice on 0118 952 7137 or email piclaims@boyesturner.com.

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week - RCOG call for increased screening uptake

During Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, Boyes Turner welcome the FSRH (Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare of the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists) and RCOG’s call for urgent action to increase cervical screening attendance rates.

If you’ve been following Jo’s Trust’s campaign #SmearForSmear you’ll already know the importance and the benefits of regular cervical screening in reducing your risk of cancer. However, NHS Digital have reported that attendance for free, NHS cervical screening during NHS Cervical Screening Programme 2016-17 was at its lowest in 20 years. Whilst increasing numbers of women are being invited for screening, the uptake in the highest risk age group of 25 to 49-year-olds was only 69.6%.

Suggested reasons for the low attendance rate include local authority budget-driven cuts reducing the number of local settings in which cervical screening is offered, such as SRH clinics. Meanwhile, overburdened GPs are missing opportunities to catch those who have missed out by offering opportunistic appointments for screening at their surgeries.

These additional barriers are simply compounding the problem already encountered with existing barriers (such as fear, lack of awareness) which charities like Jo’s Trust are working so hard to overcome, making it more important than ever to raise awareness of the life-saving benefits of attending your appointment and having your smear.

Early detection of abnormal cells is the key to the avoidance of cervical cancer, along with HPV vaccination among pre-teen and teenage girls.

When left undetected and untreated, cervical cancer not only causes death, but leaves its survivors with lifelong physical, emotional and psychological injury.

Join us and Jo’s Trust, this Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, in urging female friends and family to #ReduceYourRisk and join us in promoting cervical cancer prevention by posting your lipstick #SmearForSmear selfie. For details on how to get involved, click here.

Should cohabitees receive bereavement damages

This was a question recently faced by the Court of Appeal after Ms Jakki Smith took the Secretary of State for Justice to Court for breaching her human rights.

Who can claim bereavement damages?

The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 gives rise to the right to claim bereavement damages. The Act allows the wife, husband or civil partner of the deceased to claim damages for their bereavement. Payment is also made to the parents of the deceased where the deceased was a minor. The current payment for bereavement damages is £12,980. At the time that Ms Smith’s partner, John Bulloch, died it was £11,800 and this was the amount she was seeking.

Does a cohabitee get anything?

Unlike the payment for bereavement damages, which a cohabitee is not entitled to claim under the Act, a cohabitee can claim for a financial dependency on the deceased. This claim is possible where the deceased and his partner have been cohabiting for at least 2 years before the death and have been cohabiting as husband and wife.

What was Ms Smith’s case?

Ms Smith argued that by excluding her from those people entitled to claim bereavement damages the Government was breaching her Human Rights. The Court of Appeal agreed with Ms Smith and found that section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 was incompatible with Article 14 in conjunction with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Unfortunately, although Ms Smith’s case will set a precedent for other unmarried cohabiting partners to seek bereavement damages, she will not benefit from the decision. This is because although the Secretary of State was acting in a way which was incompatible with Ms Smith’s convention rights, they could not have acted differently due to the provision of the Fatal Accidents Act which does not allow cohabitees to claim bereavement damages.  

How does this affect mesothelioma and asbestos claims?

In giving his judgment Sir Terence Etherton MR commented on the declining “popularity of the institution of marriage and the increase in the number of cohabiting couples”. According to the Office of National Statistics in a report on “Families and Households” in 2015, “cohabiting couples continues to be the fastest growing family type in the UK, reaching 3.2 million cohabiting families”.

This decision can be used as a precedent to persuade defendants that bereavement damages should be paid to cohabitees in line with financial dependency claims under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. 

Bereavement damages frequently form a part of mesothelioma and asbestos claims and therefore this is a decision which will benefit a number of our clients. However, the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 has not yet changed to allow a statutory entitlement to bereavement damages for cohabitees and we look forward to seeing a change to the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 in the near future.
 

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week - Reducing the Risk of HPV

During Cervical Cancer Prevention Week Boyes Turner are supporting cervical cancer charity, Jo’s Trust, in raising awareness about cervical cancer. The theme of this year’s prevention week is “Reduce Your Risk”, and that of those you care for, by understanding how this devastating condition can be recognised, treated and prevented. 

We now know that the vast majority of cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV, or the human papilloma virus, an infection passed on by any form of sexual contact. So, let’s be clear about a few facts at the outset:

  • 80% of people will be infected with a genital HPV infection at some time in their lives.
  • Your first or only sexual contact with anyone at all can put you at risk.
  • HPV infection does not imply sexual promiscuity or infidelity.

The problem with HPV is that, whilst it is very common, it is a symptomless infection. It can go undetected in the body for many years. Some people’s strong immune systems enable them to clear themselves naturally of HPV. It is not known why some people’s bodies can and others’ can’t. In those who clear the infection, it can take about 12 to 18 months. Smoking is also known to inhibit the body’s ability to clear itself of HPV. When most people with HPV are unaware that they have been infected, it is not surprising that the infection is so widespread. It should be noted that merely having HPV does not in itself warrant treatment, but the silent yet prevalent existence of the infection makes screening for cervical cancer all the more important.

Most forms of HPV are harmless but some high-risk strains can cause changes in the cells of the cervix which, if undetected and treated, will ultimately lead to cervical cancer. If a smear test reveals abnormal cells and high-risk HPV you may be recalled for further examination.

Jo’s Trust estimates that 70% of cervical cancers are caused by just two high-risk types of HPV, both of which can now be prevented (in people who have not previously been infected) by HPV vaccinations which are currently available to girls on the NHS. In 2008 the NHS introduced free, routine HPV immunisation for girls aged 12 to 13, in the hope of protecting them from HPV before they become sexually active. Offered in schools but also available through GP surgeries, the vaccines are over 98% effective in preventing cervical abnormalities associated with the two high-risk HPV strains in women who have the full dose, and in preventing infection with new strains or reinfection of a cleared HPV. They are not effective where the person is already infected with HPV, which is why the NHS is offering immunisation to girls at such a young age.

With research indicating that the HPV vaccine could prevent two thirds of cervical cancers in women under the age of 30 by 2025, assuming 80% take-up of the vaccination, which is now being consistently achieved, there is good reason for optimism that we will succeed in overcoming this devastating condition.

Join us and Jo’s Trust, this Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, in urging female friends and family to #ReduceYourRisk and join us in promoting cervical cancer prevention by posting your lipstick #SmearForSmear selfie. For details on how to get involved, click here.

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2018 - Join us in supporting Jo's Trust's awareness campaign #SmearForSmear

From 22nd to 28th January Boyes Turner will be joining cervical cancer charity, Jo’s Trust, in urging women to #ReduceYourRisk - the theme of this year’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week campaign - support the campaign by sharing your #SmearForSmear lipstick selfies to raise awareness.   

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35, with 3,000 new cases diagnosed and 800 deaths from the disease in the UK each year. That’s two women dying each day from a disease that could be prevented in 75% of cases by cervical screening that is routinely available on the NHS for free.

A smear test only takes a few minutes once every three years for women aged 25 to 49 who, by virtue of their age, are most likely to develop cervical cancer, and every five years for women of 50 to 64. For women over 65, routine screening is only available to those who have had abnormal previous tests or who haven’t undergone screening from the age of 50. Every woman who is registered with a GP should be invited for screening. Yet the NHS reports that more than 1.2 million women could be risking their lives by not having a smear test, as attendance for cervical screening has dropped in the last year, leaving test rates the lowest that they have been for two decades.

Whilst the smear test only takes minutes, the impact of cervical cancer can last a lifetime - leaving partners and children bereaved and its treated survivors devastated by side-effects, such as infertility, premature menopause, impaired bowel and urinary function, painful sexual intercourse, fear of recurrence, pain and psychological damage.

Join us and Jo’s Trust, this Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, in urging female friends and family to #ReduceYourRisk and join us in promoting cervical cancer prevention by posting your lipstick #SmearForSmear selfie. For details on how to get involved, click here.

60 seconds with a medical negligence lawyer

Over the following year we will be sharing a series of question and answer articles about our day-to-day lives in the medical negligence team. This week, it’s Rachel Carey's turn, a solicitor in the team.

Rachel qualified in April 2016 and joined the Clinical Negligence team at Boyes Turner in November 2016. Rachel’s clients have suffered obstetric and gynaecological injuries, Erb’s palsy, pressure sores, disability resulting from delayed diagnosis and treatment of cancer. She acts for the bereaved spouses and children of patients who have died as a result of negligent medical care.

What made you choose a career in clinical negligence?

The driving force behind my decision to study law and specialise in claimant clinical negligence work was my desire to help David, rather than Goliath. I have a keen interest in medicine and enjoy using my skills and expertise to help our clients get back on their feet or live a more fulfilling and stress free life following a medical accident. I find it incredibly satisfying to be in a position which allows me to guide clients through the legal process which I know many will find daunting and overwhelming.

Which personal skills does it take to succeed at this type of work? 

It is really important for a clinical negligence solicitor to have empathy, be able to show understanding and have the ability to remain calm in stressful situations. As the majority of the medical accidents we deal with cause life changing injuries which devastating consequences to our clients and their families, I ensure that I always bear that in mind and treat them sensitively and patiently.

What is the most rewarding part of your work? 

I recently met with a young client’s Mum on a case where the hospital had admitted liability. She told me how relieved she was to know that, as a result of the compensation, her son, who has cerebral palsy, would be looked after and taken care of for the rest of his life when her and her husband were no longer able to. She was excited to be able to move into a more appropriately sized and adapted home which could cater for her son’s needs. I could see how much that meant to her and to know that the work I had been a part of had helped was incredibly rewarding and made me realise even more how important the work we do is for people.

Santa's little bikers need safety advice under the tree to go with their new wheels

Children are cycling on our busy roads at a younger and younger age, many from the age of five, according to new research from local child cyclist’s safety charity Cycle-Smart

With the Christmas peak in bike and helmet sales now upon us, the charity - as part of its #FiveSs campaign - is visiting schools across the Thames Valley to increase parent's and children's awareness of the need for properly fitted helmets and safer cycling practice - to mitigate risk of serious injury or death if new bikes and helmets are not accompanied by more effective, simple guidance on head protection and road safety. 

The national research from Cycle-Smart surveyed over 1,700 children in England aged 5-9, and found:

More than one in seven (15%) of 5-6 year olds now cycle on roads where there are cars;

The figure rises to 37% of 7-9 year olds;

Amongst boys in the 7-9 year old  44% were more likely to cycle on the road compared to 23% of girls;

Only 70% even own a helmet, and only 47% wear them every time they use their bike.

The last 6 months of road data (January- June 2017) shows a 24% increase in serious child cycling casualties compared to same 6 months last year.

Boyes Turner is proud to have sponsored a video for Cycle-Smart, released today, which gives simple to follow tips on helmet fitting and cycle safety.   

A snap-survey conducted last month by Cycle-Smart volunteers of 350 children, including 120 in the Reading, Newbury, Slough and wider Berkshire area, has revealed a worrying failure of children to wear properly fitted helmets:

Over 60% of under six-year-olds did not have straps secured properly under the chin or with the Y-shaped straps fitted correctly around the ears;

Over a quarter of under six-year-olds did not have the helmet positioned correctly on their heads.

For 6-14 year olds, over 40% didn’t have straps positioned and secured correctly, and 18% didn’t have the helmet positioned correctly on their heads.

Angela Lee, Founder and Chief Executive of Cycle-Smart, says:
"A lifetime of happy, healthy cycling is one of the greatest gifts parents can give their child. But a bike without a well-fitted helmet and the common-sense advice and training necessary to share the road with cars, vans and trucks could lead to unnecessary anguish. We're urging parents, bike shops and those responsible for educating our children to use the roads safely to come together to make sure this Christmas's bike bonanza leaves a safe and happy legacy in the New Year."

Claire Roantree, Trustee of Cycle-Smart and Partner at Boyes Turner LLP, says:
"Thousands of new bikes will be under the tree this Christmas. They're gifts that will create happier, healthier, more independent kids. However, it is an unavoidable fact that some of these bikes will lead to accidents. The risks shouldn't stop kids getting freer and fitter on their bikes. But it would be reckless if a major part of the gift wasn't parents, bike shops and schools coming together to ensure helmets are always well-fitted and advice is provided to the ever-younger kids sharing the roads with cars. We urge all parents of child cyclists to watch the Cycle-Smart video."

Croydon Tram Crash

The tram that derailed in Croydon on 9th November resulted in the death of seven people. It is known that the tram was travelling at three and a half times the speed limit when it approached a curve in the track, causing it to derail. In addition to those who died, eight people were taken to hospital with serious or life-changing injuries, including amputated limbs.

The Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) said the tram, which was carrying 60 people, was travelling at 43.5mph in a 12mph zone. Initial inspection showed the driver did apply the brake after coming out of the tunnel but only enough to reduce his speed from 50mph to 43.5pmh. It was stated in RAIB’s report that there was no evidence of any track defect or obstruction on the track.  The investigation also found no malfunction of the braking system. The driver was subsequently arrested and is on bail on suspicion of manslaughter.

Transport for London (TfL) has offered to pay for the funerals of those who died but came in for criticism after it was revealed the families had not been told about it in person. It is expected there to be significant number of claims by people who were injured, and families of those who died in the accident. However, investigations are currently ongoing and the British Transport Police has appealed for witnesses. Solicitors for some of the families have called for the inquiry to be made public, saying TfL and the tram operator’s parent company First Group should move swiftly to accept blame and offer pay-outs. They have also said, if the insurance companies are proactive, payouts could begin as soon as the cause of the crash has been determined. However, if the insurance companies decide to fight the claims then it could be years before the victims or their families see any money. Depending on the outcome of the investigations, compensation to the victims will be provided by either TfL or First Group.

Tram accidents on such a scale have been rare in Britain, with the last passenger death in a crash having occurred in 1959. But since the crash MPs have called for the RAIB to consider whether safety systems that exist on national rail and tube networks, such as automatic braking, should be implemented for trams or light rail too.

Zarqa Rasab, of specialist personal injury firm Boyes Turner LLP, comments:

“This is an exceptionally tragic incident which could have been easily avoided. As a commuter myself, I do put my safety in the hands of others on a daily basis and rightfully expect to be safe. The driver, along with TfL & First Group owed a duty to take such care of its passengers and to ensure they were safe. It is clear that this duty was breached, leaving a devastating result”.

"We had never heard about Sepsis. Perhaps if we had, we would have spotted the signs..." - Matthew's story

Sepsis is a life threatening condition.  It causes 44,000 death per year in Britain.

The UK Sepsis Trust is committed to raising awareness about the signs and symptoms of #Sepsis both with the public, and with medical professionals.  We are supporting The UK Sepsis Trust in the work that they do, and are honoured to have recently been asked to become a corporate partner of the charity.

Who knows how things might have been different for Matthew and his family, if they had been aware of the symptoms of #sepsis…

Failure to diagnose sepsis

In August last year, Matthew Parkes and his wife were in Majorca with their four year old daughter when Matthew fell ill.

Matthew, a 39 year old former competitive swimmer, developed a sore throat the day after arriving in Majorca. By the following day, Matthew had pain all over his body, and his wife took him to a local public hospital.

Matthew was already displaying some of the tell tale signs of sepsis including shortness of breath, chills and a fever. Although with hindsight Matthew should have been given antibiotics to fight the infection, he was sent away with diazepam. Matthew had in fact developed pneumonia, triggered by a streptococcus infection, and it started to invade his lungs.

Matthew’s pain got worse and he developed pain in his stomach, chest and back.  He recently told the Daily Mail about his experience, reporting a common feeling in sepsis survivors, he felt like he was dying. Matthew’s stomach became badly distended and his skin was purple and blotchy.  His breathing remained rapid and he had a high temperature.  These are all typical signs of sepsis.

Delay in sepsis diagnosis

Matthew’s wife was so worried she took him to a nearby private hospital, who immediately identified that Matthew was suffering with sepsis.

Matthew was transferred into intensive care in a hospital in Palma for emergency kidney dialysis.

Matthew was then placed into a medical induced coma, and was unconscious for seven weeks.  During that time he was transferred back to Manchester, and admitted to the Wythenshawe Hospital. When Matthew came round, his wife had to break the news to him that both legs would have to be amputated approximately seven inches below the knee.  Matthew also had to have a further operation to remove nearly all of the fingers and a third of the palm of his left hand.

Both Matthew and Pamela had never heard of sepsis before Matthew was taken ill.  Speaking to the Daily Mail recently they said “..if we’d known then what we know now, perhaps we’d have spotted the signs and asked doctors to check for it”.

Matthew has recently added his voice and his story to that of Melissa Mead, whose one year old son William tragically died from sepsis in 2014.

Asbestos and the Olympian - A wrestlers battle with mesothelioma

The Olympic games in Rio are in full swing and everyone from around the world is enjoying watching World and Olympic records being broken and their home nation Olympians bringing home medals.

What is not known by many is that a famous Olympian unfortunately suffered from pleural mesothelioma, an asbestos related disease which led to his untimely death.

The Olympian was Terry McCann, the American wrestler.

Terry McCann’s wrestling career

Terry was from Chicago, Illinois and had a fantastic wrestling career which included  winning three consecutive AAU National Championships and posting the only undefeated international record of his time, as the only man to go undefeated against the Russians.

Terry McCann flipping his opponent on his way to yet another victory.

Terry was first selected for the 1956 Olympic Team but did not go because he was in school and wanted to complete his education.

Terry then begun to suffer from knee problems and was at risk of not being selected for the 1960 Olympic games in Rome.  The American Olympic Committee however were keen to enlist Terry as they did not want to lose medals to the Russians and Terry was eventually awarded a place on the 1960 American Olympic team.

Terry lost his first match on points but went on to win a succession of matches including against his Russian rival and received a 1960 Olympic Gold Medal for Wrestling.

Terry’s mesothelioma

Terry McCann with his Olympic gold medal

In 2004 Terry begun to suffer symptoms of chest pain and breathlessness.

Terry had a successful career in surfing and also in wrestling coaching.  Both activities kept Terry extremely fit and because of this he initially refused to acknowledge his symptoms and simply dismissed them as being due to age.

Sadly in 2005, Terry was diagnosed as suffering from malignant mesothelioma of the pleura.

Terry was able to recall working in an oil refinery in the late 1950’s for a few weeks whilst training for the Olympic games so he could support his young family.  Terry stated he would come home from work in the evening with fine silvery dust in his hair and clothes which he later found out was asbestos.  Terry had no idea this asbestos dust would cause him to suffer from a terminal disease.

Terry went on to become an outspoken critic of the asbestos industry and CEO’s of the American corporations that mined asbestos, that manufactured asbestos products and that imported or exported asbestos products.

Terry said, “They knew it would kill, but they sold it anyway, and made money. There’s a word for that. Eventually, the bad guys will be tried by the highest court, and they will pay.”

Terry sadly passed away as a result of his mesothelioma in 2006.

The 2016 Olympic games in Rio

Asbestos is now more controlled in most countries, though sadly not in all.  It is hoped that Terry’s recent asbestos related death combined with the Rio Olympic games may cause the asbestos industry to reflect on the dangers of working with asbestos and result in stricter asbestos working guidelines, or perhaps even a complete ban on the use of asbestos, something Boyes Turner would support.

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Boyes Turner client

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