Can The Spam

Following on from a previous post here I thought it would be helpful to raise awareness of the Can The spam campaign.

When I was dealing with personal injury claims in the past, I heard case after case where people were considering not claiming as they thought we were all national companies, employing cheap staff who didn’t know what they were doing and were only in it for making money for the company rather than the claimant. I’d ask why they thought that and in most cases it was down to the cold calls, automated calls or text messages from cheap call centres. Most people have the same reaction as I do when they receive a claims company cold calling them – to hang up the phone. It just gives the impression of a poorly managed sector in the personal injury claims sector that put people off.

The fact is, from my experience, that some companies do employ cheap lead generators. They think they can call, call again and keep calling and people will give in. Or if they aren’t successful then they sell your details on to another company. Even worse than cold callers is when you run halfway through the house to answer the phone and there’s an automated message offering you the services of a claims management company. How many people listen past the first few words these days? As soon as I realize it’s an automated call I simply hang up.

Can The Spam campaign

Well back in June 2016 APIL (the association of personal injuries lawyers) launched the “Can The Spam” campaign and I am fully behind it. It’s about time! Solicitors are unable to cold call, by law, and APIL are calling for that to be a blanket ban on everyone including claims management company’s (not that they all cold call).

According to the Information Commissioner the number of cold calls and text messages doubled from 2014 to 2015 and shows no sign of stopping, so I’m saying that everyone get behind APIL to stop this practice. Even people who are using the free Telephone Preference Service, which should stop unsolicited calls to their number, are reporting the nuisance calls.

When APIL held their annual conference back in May they were lucky enough to get Lord Faulkes as their key note speaker. He said that society has a cost directly from the “substantial industry that encourages unnecessary, inappropriate, or even fraudulent claims through cold calling and other social nuisances and which increases premiums for customers.” In effect he was basically saying that the cost of insurance premiums for everyone else goes up because of wrongly claimed injury compensation.

Neil Sugarman who heads up APIL said “Cold calling for personal injury claims is exploitative, tasteless, and intrusive. Solicitors are not allowed to do it, for these very good reasons. But some claims management companies continue to hound people in this way and we want the government to put a total ban on the practice.”

What APIL want is for people to log any nuisance calls with them via Twitter or their Facebook page and give as much detail as possible, like: when was the call received, what number was it from, was a company name mentioned, was it a phone call or text message and any other relevant information you can give. APIL will then pass this on to the regulator.

APIL wants a total ban on cold calling (and I agree) but the government hasn’t taken this step as yet so the more companies that can be forced to stop by collating this information the better. The government has also linked cold calls and nuisance calling with removing the right of some claims against whiplash injuries which I think is ludicrous. If you’ve been genuinely injured then you have a genuine right to be compensated in my eyes. If some unscrupulous claims firms are inventing or helping people to claim for invented injuries then it’s got to be a good thing for everyone if APIL’s actions are successful in reducing these types of companies or reducing their practises.

In my opinion the sector should be allowed to advertise their services, should be allowed to take calls from customers and should be able to work reactively not proactively. Cold calls are usually very annoying and put pressure on the agent to make false claims or offer unrealistic amounts of money for claims which can never be achieved. The pressure on sales agents then passes down to the consumer who can be led down the path of making false or fraudulent claims that they would’ve never considered themselves before the cold caller made contact.

G Macs final thought

Call centres cost money to setup and more money to pay the staff each day, the only way that money is recovered is by making claims against insurance policies and the only way that money is earned back by the insurers is to increase the premiums that everybody pays for their insurance. I say ‘Can The Spam’ now to improve the costs of insurance for everyone.

Personal Injuries, What Can I Claim For?

I still often get asked what sort of injuries can I claim compensation for and I generally give the same response, “If you were injured, are made ill or contract a disease and it was somebody else’s fault then you can almost certainly make a claim”.

The next question that usually follows is “How much can I get?” and my response for that one is always “It varies”.

So many factors contribute towards compensation payouts that I will never give an estimate to anyone, especially friends, without full understanding what the injury was, what affect it had on the person and what negligence took place to cause the injury.

It’s very easy to look at websites that claim ‘we can get you £10,000 for your broken little finger’ but the truth is I’ve never put a price on any claim without knowing all of the details.

When looking at the types of things people can claim for I usually fit them into one of these types of claims:

  • Traffic accident

Traffic claims are one of the most common and cover a fair few types of accident. Pedestrians and cyclists involved in collisions with motor vehicles, driver and passenger injuries following collisions and motorcyclists being knocked off of their bikes.

If you’re injured as a result of the driver of a vehicle colliding with you or your vehicle then you’ve got every right to make a claim for compensation against the drivers insurance.

  • Accident in the workplace

Workplace accidents do happen and if they happen due to negligence then you can make a claim. Even if your employer has safety systems in place you may still be able to claim if another employee or manager were negligent.

Under the health and safety at work act all employers must protect employees, visitors and customers on their premises by completing risk assessments and working out what can be done to reduce the risks.

  • Serious injury

The main reason people make claims for serious injuries is because there are usually serious financial losses involved for the injured party. Temporary or permanent loss of employment and temporary and ongoing medical costs that can’t be paid for any more.

Serious injuries can involve brain injury, spinal injury or very serious head injuries amongst others.

  • Environmental health injuries

Bacterial food poisoning, carbon monoxide poisoning and conditions caused by pesticides are some examples of environmental health injuries. Exposure to chemicals or gases can also be looked into if there was a short or long term affect on your health or disfigurement of your body.

  • Accident in a Public Place

I used to see loads of accident claims for accidents in public places. Potholes and poorly maintained paths are a big reason, poorly maintained stores or slippery store floors are also common reasons for making a claim.

If there were warning signs then the case is less likely so gathering evidence (photographic) to show there wasn’t any is useful for claim evidence. In the case of poorly maintained roads if the local authority or one of it’s contractors has highlighted the defect then get evidence of that to.

  • Medical negligence (Clinical negligence)

Examples of medical negligence can include surgery mistakes, poor or misdiagnosis and injuries at birth.

You often hear of wrong parts of the body being treated reported in the press as well as leaving medical instruments inside the body of a patient following open surgery. This is quite a specialist area in personal injury compensation so you do need to deal with a specialist.

  • Product defect or dangerous products

If you have an injury while using a product and you were using within the manufacturer’s recommendations then you may have a claim.

Chemicals leaking and burning you, products setting on fire or seating which collapses are all good examples of product defects.

Try to get photographic evidence of the defect and the damage it has caused. You’ll need to document as much as possible as large companies can have legal teams that don’t want to pay out to avoid an influx of complaints of a similar nature.

G Macs final thought

Once the accident has been defined I usually look at the severity of the injury ranging from fairly minor injuries through to fatalities to work out a compensation amount.

The main thing with all personal injury claims is that it has to be down to someone else’s negligence. If you have an accident and it was just that, an accident, then there is no one to claim against.

If somebody or an organisation has forgotten to do something or deliberately chosen not to do something then they are to blame for your injury and you can claim compensation.

Thanks,

G Mac.

The Leveller Of All Men

So I was out with my wife the other morning and we’d taken a lovely walk into town. It was a really fresh morning for the summer but I like the breeze in my face on a morning stroll. When we arrived I was feeling a bit peckish so I suggested breakfast at McDonalds, but Sal wasn’t having any of it – she was here to shop but sent me on my way and suggested we meet up in an hour.

As I got in line (or queued up as you say here) for my breakfast I realised how McDonalds is a leveller. It doesn’t matter what walk of life you’re from if your hungry or want a morning tea or coffee then McDonalds is there for you, they don’t discriminate against any walk of life.

In the queue were 2 policemen, a roguish looking man who looked shady to say the least (but who am I to judge?), a very smartly dressed man in a suit worth hundreds of pounds (if not more), 2 lads dressed in basketball kit, and me. It occurred to me that I could think of no other scenario in the world where we’d all be stood together. Maybe in court I suppose, the police as prosecution witnesses, the rogue was the man on trial, the smartly dressed man the barrister but why were the basketball players there? OK, I couldn’t think of another scenario where we’d all be together again.

I sat down with my breakfast and poured the milk in to my coffee and decided to watch as people arrived through the front door.

Builders were popular as there were some roadworks just outside in the main street and bus drivers who were finishing their early morning runs. Then there was a group of school aged kids, all well behaved and even held the door open for a lady who looked like she spent the night, or a fair few nights, sleeping rough (she actually came round and asked everyone for their free coffee sticker).

I tried to imagine where in the world would this group of people share a meal together and couldn’t come up with a damn thing! McDonalds is comfortable and probably unhealthy but it’s also quick and tasty and suitable for everyone.

Then I watched one of the kids blow the paper off his straw and refuse to pick it up when one of the staff asked him to. The rest of the group laughed at the poor girl who was probably not much older than the rude boy. They stopped laughing when one of the the policeman who had seen the same as me stepped up and came towards them. He didn’t say anything but the paper was picked up and taken to the bin without a word from anyone!

G Macs final thought

Until the rudeness occurred I was lost in the moment thinking that I wish more of life was like this. Maybe one day, just maybe…

Evidence Is King

I’ve been asked recently by a friend of Sals what makes a good claim for personal injury compensation and I thought that’d be obvious to most people but realized that it’s probably not as clear cut as I thought.

The key thing, when trying to claim compensation for a personal injury is evidence. It’s very easy to appoint a lawyer or solicitor, explain your situation and then put in a claim and then to get turned away because you’ve got no evidence of anything ever happening. That’s not to say it didn’t happen but any lawyer or company dealing with your claim will want evidence before paying anything out.

It’s always difficult to try and discipline yourself at the time of an accident as you’re likely to be in pain and worried about damage to you and your property but any evidence you can gather at the time of the incident helps. So what evidence is good evidence?

Photographs of the location of the accident

If you’re able to then get a photo of the scene of the accident with everything as it is after the accident. This will show the position of items after the accident for investigators to show where things ended up. If you’re not able to take a photo at the time then go back as soon as you can and photograph the scene so that you can explain what happened. In the case of a workplace accident make a note of anything you believe has changed since the accident.

Photographs need to be clear and in context. There’s no point showing a pothole in the road if that’s all you can see, take a second photo from distance and highlight the pothole. The same is true in road traffic accidents. If you take a photo of the damage to the back of your car then take a second one further back from the scene that shows your car and the other offending vehicle (try to include number plates in the photo too).

Photograph your injuries

This can be a key document to use as evidence. Try to get photographs at the time and then more photographs over time to show how the injury has changed as the days and weeks go on.

Written reports

If the police attended the scene then ask for a copy of their report. It’ll contain independent and unbiased information on what happened. If you attended the doctors or the hospital then your medical records can be used as evidence including any x-rays showing your injuries at the time you visited.

Witness reports

If anyone saw what happened at the time of your accident then ask them for their details (name and telephone number is probably enough at the time). If you’re thinking of making a claim for compensation then ask them to write down what they saw, don’t try to influence them but ask them to state what they saw and if possible plot their position on a diagram of the scene.

If it’s a road traffic accident then show where their car was in relation to yours or for a work place accident draw a plan and show where they were placed in relation to you.

Those are the pieces of evidence I would be looking at before taking on a case, but what else? If you’re going to keep a diary I’d recommend you record:

  • What happened leading up to the accident (time of day, road conditions and weather conditions in the case of road accidents or what task you were doing in the event of a workplace accident)
  • What happened after the accident. Who did you speak to and when, who helped you and when? If you’ve needed help in the time after an accident then how long for? Who helped? When did they help you?

Other things I’d want to see to make a full claim would include any letters you receive from the other party (these should always be kept), any dash-cam recordings, any admissions of guilt and any expenses. Out of pocket expenses should be recorded and receipts provided as these are a key part of any claim. Medical costs, traveling costs and other peoples costs as well.

G Macs final thought

I know it’s not the first thing you’ll think of when you have an accident but I’ll say it again, “evidence is king” and if you can gather as much as possible at the time the accident happens then you’ll make your claim easier for your lawyer and they will be able to obtain the best possible amount of compensation.

At the end of the day if someone has done something wrong to you then it’s right that you should be compensated.

Thanks,

G Mac.

Stopping Cold Calls

Following on from my previous post I thought I would look into what can be done to stop cold calls, whether they’re from personal injury related companies or any other of the little blighters. Then I thought I might as well make a new “informational” post on the topic, so here it is.

Number 1 on the list is the Telephone Preference Service.

If you register your phone number with the telephone preference service then you should not receive unsolicited calls from companies based in the United Kingdom, and t does not cost anything for you to register with them.

You can go to their website here for more details and to register if you wish to do so.

Take note though that the telephone preference service does not stop junk calls that you might have opted to receive when you were filling out some form or another.

Number 2 is to have an unlisted phone number.

You can request that your name and phone number be excluded from telephone directories. Some cold calling companies use these directories to locate phone numbers so if your numbers not listed then it’ll be harder for them to get hold of your number.

Number 3 is to get Caller Identification on your Phone.

If you have caller identification on your phone then you can screen your calls as they come in. Cold callers trying to call you will show up on the caller ID equipment as an unknown name, or private number. Do not answer those calls that do not display the name and number of the person calling you.

Number 4 is to get an Answering Machine

If you have an answering machine you can also screen your calls. The majority of legitimate callers will leave a message for you on an answering machine. If you are close enough to the phone you can even interrupt the machine and go ahead with the call if it is someone you wish to speak with, or ignore it if it’s the mother-in-law.

Number 5 is Call Blocking

If you do not have a phone that has call blocking capabilities on it there are services you can subscribe to that will block unwanted calls for you. CPR call blocker plugs into your home phone and allow you to know who is calling before you answer the phone, and you can even get a CPR app for certain cell phones as well. Bonus!

You can also get TrueCall Call Blocker and use it in the same way.

Number 6 is to report the calls!

If you are receiving unwanted cold calls you can report the callers to the TPS. The TPS will investigate your allegation of cold calls and they will make reports to the Information Commissioner’s Office. This is especially useful against the cold caller companies that call repeatedly.

If you think the caller is trying to run a scam you can visit the Action Fraud website and make your own report. Or give them a call on 0300-123-2040.

If you are getting silent calls or other nuisance calls you can also make a report to the company that provides your phone services.

G Macs final thought

Well that’s it for today folks. But before I go, Sal and I are out for dinner tonight so whatever yall fine people are up to tonight, have fun.

Thanks,

G Mac.

Cold Callers Give Personal Injury Lawyers A Bad Rep

UPDATE:

After posting my thoughts below on cold callers and the personal injury industry I’ve just been reading this article from the Telegraph posted yesterday. Fascinating.

—————————————————-

Hey guys, it’s been just over a week since my first post and so I thought it was time to add another. The weather has been balmy lately (as Brits would say) so Sal and I have been taking advantage and went to the Lake District for a long weekend.

Anyhoo I’m finding it difficult to sleep tonight, it’s so hot, so I thought I’d spend a while writing about one of my pet hates, and that is cold callers. However, this is more about how cold callers give us personal injury lawyers and law firms in general a bad rep.

First off, I think it is important to understand that not all cold calls are a scam. However annoying they might be, companies can legitimately make cold calls as long as they abide by the laws that are in place. You can read more on that here.

Cold callers and personal injury claims

Cold callers (often known as Ambulance chasers) who call people in an attempt to get them to file a personal injury claim cause people to not trust reputable injury lawyers.

Cold callers are annoying to the majority of people, and most people feel that they are not on the up and up because the majority of the time the caller identification on the phone displays “number withheld” instead of a name and number. Most people feel that if a company were legitimate they would not mind you knowing who was calling you, and in fact recent changes in the law states that numbers now must not be withheld otherwise the company involved could face heavy fines.

Ex Culture Secretary Maria Miller announced a couple of years or so ago that the legal threshold that distinguishes what is a nuisance call should be lowered so that cold callers could be investigated more easily. I agree that these calls are annoying and can be distressing for folks receiving them. In fact more than ninety percent of people do not respond favourably to them at all.

The point that I dislike personally is that more than 42% of cold calls were regarding personal injury claims according to the Citizens Advice. You can read more here on their website, and it is a rather insightful article.

The consequences for all of the cold calls coming from people fishing for leads is it understandably causes us to distrust reputable law firms and lawyers or solicitors who are in business to assist people who were genuinely injured in some type of accident and have the legal right to file a personal injury claim.

When you create a lack of trust for any industry you can effectively damage the function of that industry and leave innocent people hurting.

Cold callers using fake names

Many cold callers give people they call fake names in an attempt to gain trust and gain access to personal information. When I say fake names it could be a name of a legit company that is easily recognizable, or one that is easy to find if you just search the name on Google. They do this because it gives the receiver of the cold call some assurance that the call is genuine, straight off the bat. Should the receiver of the call be frustrated and hang up the call almost immediately as most people do they may also instinctively blame the company name the caller gave so the caller gets away clean. Those type of calls are nothing more than a scam artist at work, period.

Cold Callers and their victims

Most people do not want to have these cold callers harassing them day and night. Most people get frustrated by the calls and they hang up on them anyway. The people that do not get frustrated and hang up on cold callers are usually elderly people who are seen to be easily taken in by scams, and crooks, because in their day a company did not work the way these cold callers do. It’s sad to say but it’s the elderly who fall prey to the majority of cold calling scams.

G Macs final thought

As I stated from the get go, not all cold calls are scams. However, for the vast majority of people they are extremely annoying. Whether a cold call about a “supposed ” accident claim is legit or not, it damages the image of the personal injury industry, and that’s not good at all.

Thanks,

G Mac.

PS. Enjoy the weather however long it lasts!

G Mac 1 Technology 0

Today is a momentous day. I have achieved a feat that anybody that knows me would say was impossible, and that is to launch my own blog. Thank you, no need to applaud!

Now I may have been one of the top personal injury lawyers in New England in my time and I may have a brain the size of Pluto (the planet, not the cartoon dog) but technology has never been my bag. Heck, I even have trouble figuring out the Tvs RCU, so figuring out how one makes a blog has been a challenge, but one that I have been determined to conquer.

So here we are. This is what we have thus far. Not much I admit but looks aren’t everything, or so that’s what Sal (my wife) has always assured me. But we have something at least, and in time I’ll be sharing with you some awesome content I’m itching to write, mainly related to the world of G Mac (me!) but I promise it won’t be as boring as it might sound.

That’s all for now folks, maybe y’all can drop by here again in a short while and see what’s cooking.

Thanks,

G Mac.