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Personal injury news roundup

Insurer chalks up legal ‘first’ in NIHL dishonesty case


The first ‘fundamental dishonesty’ ruling has been made on a noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) claim, with insurer Allianz recovering costs as a result, according to an article carried by Post magazine.


Allianz investigations revealed that contrary to the claimant’s allegations, he had been supplied with protective equipment throughout his employment. His Honour Judge Gregory ruled on appeal that the ‘fundamental dishonesty’ test had been met.


Stephen Croston, at law firm Keoghs which represented Allianz, said: "This is an important decision for the market, providing much needed guidance in an emerging area of the law."


Supreme Court ruling raises concerns over major claims cost rises


A key Supreme Court ruling that means insurers could face substantial rises in claims costs for fatal accident cases.


In Knauer v Ministry of Justice, The court unanimously agreed that the correct approach is to assess the multiplier for fixing damages for future loss claims at the date of trial. Commenting on the ruling, law firm Kennedys was quoted as saying the mathematical outcome of the decision is that fatal accident damage claims “will rise” in most cases.


Axa presses on with reform agenda while motor revenues hit double digits


Meanwhile, Axa’s announcement of a hike in motor revenues at the insurer of 11% to £900m, generated significant coverage from both insurance industry and legal titles.


According to a report in Post, the insurer said the revenue rise was partly down to premium increases of more than 30% in the Republic of Ireland, following increases in personal injury awards. Further insurers including RSA and AIG subsequently came out in favour of Axa’s stance on matters in the Republic, with reports suggesting the Injuries Board had “lost its way”.


Assessed costs trump fixed costs, says Lord Dyson


In another high profile article, The Law Society Gazette reported that claimant lawyers will welcome a Court of Appeal ruling that claimants who do better than their own Part 36 offer are entitled to more than just fixed costs.


In two linked hearings concerning minor RTA claims, master of the rolls Lord Dyson said assessed costs should trump fixed costs if claimants obtain more than they had offered to settle for. ‘The starting point is that fixed costs and assessed costs are conceptually different,’ said Dyson.


MoJ bids to cap PPI claims management fees


A consultation launched in February saw the Ministry of Justice propose to cap fees charged by claims management companies dealing with mis-sold payment protection insurance claims.


The MoJ wants to limit maximum completion fees to 15% and restrict overall charges for claims worth more than £2000 to £300, according to reports.


Soft tissue injuries damages issue provokes hard-line response


Elsewhere, there were reports that three legal organisations are jointly opposing an insurance industry-backed initiative to remove general damages from soft tissue injuries which will be part of a government consultation document.


The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, the Motor Accident Solicitors Society and the Law Society have teamed up to counter plans which they insist is ‘a red line issue’.


RTA collisions are assessed by ‘Wild West’-style ‘experts’


And finally, low speed impact claims became a key topic during February as engineering experts GBB UK classed, the reliability of expert witness evidence as “akin to the Wild West”. Brian Henderson, managing director of the forensic collision investigation firm said: “The true facts of a collision are too rarely investigated and expert testimony is frequently provided by insurance assessors who draw on a working lifetime of valuing vehicles and repairs, not on research or an understanding of the physics involved.”