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Personal injury news roundup – September 2016

Driverless Vehicles Could Become Weapons

Chinese hackers were able to take control of a Tesla electric car recently, potentially harming driver and passengers, or other road users. Solicitor Kurt Rowe at Weightmans, sees problems ahead for the insurance sector,

“Two things stand out from this hack; first, the distance involved was 12 miles and secondly, the way hackers could take full control of the vehicle, away from the driver,” he told Post Magazine.

The real issue following any type of accident would be liability of course – how could the driver prove the vehicle had been hacked? Would the car software developer or manufacturer be liable for making their systems vulnerable?

Lots of questions ahead then, as we move to a driverless future.

Government Plans to Limit Whiplash Claims Are `Unworkable’

Sue Brown, chair of the Motor Accidents Solicitors Society believes the government proposals to put a time limit on whiplash claims are essentially unworkable and unfair. Sue points out that stopping people claiming who have been genuinely injured in an accident is no way to tackle the problem of `crash-for-cash’ fraud.

The same topic was discussed at the PI Futures Conference in September, where keynote speakers called for the PI industry to work with the government on agreeing solid guidelines for processing claims, whether they were soft tissue, or something more serious.

Does `Collateral Lies’ Judgement Change Anything?

The Supreme Court decision to rule that a collateral lie did not affect the validity of a ship insurance claim, changes nothing, according to Steve Crystal, who blogs in Post magazine.

Crystal says that `gilding the lily’ is nothing new in claims, and points out that insurers and loss adjustors must always check claims in great detail. The industry `doesn’t need to apologise for acting this way,’ he said, adding `the majority of customers want fraudulent claims to be investigated.’

Justice Jackson Calls for Fixed Fee County Court System

Lord Justice Jackson, who worked on a government review of the Legal Aid system, has published a book (a snip at £79) criticising the shift in court costs from State to litigant. Lord Jackson says County Courts play an important part in social order and fixed fees should be introduced to help those with limited means gain access to justice.

Lord Jackson’s work on the 2013 Legal Aid Review for the government helped to raise fees and change the rules so that working people were unable to qualify for legal aid in many family and civil cases.

Scotland to Gain Parity with England & Wales on Legal Aid Reforms

The Scottish Parliament is expected to broadly follow the English changes to Legal Aid, with new legislation coming into effect in 2017. The Scottish Executive believes the changes will still allow many people to access Legal Aid in the future, but the details regarding parity with the system south of the border, will have to be worked out before the Bill becomes law.

New Medical Settlement Protocol in Scotland

The legal system differs in Scotland of course, and a new protocol for settling medical insurance claims comes into force on 28th November 2016.

Pre-medical offers will be permitted, but ONLY in claims where the claimant has not sought medical treatment. A response to a settlement offer must now be delivered within 14 days and reasons for rejecting said offer listed. There’s a further 14 day cooling off period before litigation can commence, which gives both sides time to consider various options. Costs for settling claims between £1500-£6000 will also decrease slightly. One of the main benefits to the industry will be that both parties in say, a typical whiplash claim, will be encouraged to set out the points of disagreement fairly early in the process, which should bring about speedier resolutions.