A New York volunteer firefighter, who sustained severe injuries when his car was crashed into by a Ford works vehicle, has been awarded 1.275 million dollars in compensation for car collision injuries by a jury at Oneida County Supreme Court.
Paul Tully of Utica, New York, was driving along the road adjacent to the NYE Ford facility in Oneida, New York, when his car was crashed into by a Ford works vehicle driven by Ford employee Keith Chase. Paul sustained crippling head and spine injuries which have prevented him from working since the accident in 2009 and which have cost his family a substantial amount in medical and care expenses.
During the subsequent investigation into the accident, Keith Chase admitted to not looking left into Genesee Street before pulling away from the manufacturing plant and, after seeking legal advice, Paul brought a car accident injury claim against Chase, Brian Guldy – the registered owner of the vehicle Chase had been driving – and NYE Ford.
The jury at Oneida County Supreme Court heard that an early offer of compensation for car collision injuries of 150,000 dollars had been rejected by Paul and his legal team and – as liability had already been admitted – the case had been brought to court for assessment of damages only.
After a short period of deliberation, the jury awarded Paul 675,000 dollars for past pain and suffering, 200,000 dollars for the pain and suffering he will experience due to his injuries in the future and 400,000 dollars to account for past and future medical and care expenses – a total of 1.275 million dollars in compensation for car collision injuries which will be paid in full by NYE Ford´s insurers.
Insurance firms in the UK increasing are their efforts to reduce the role of solicitors in settling personal injury claims. One of the most contentious issues is the intensification of third party capture, which involves insurance companies contacting the third party (i.e. the victim of their client) with a claim against their policyholder and making a rapid offer to settle. The objective is to stop the victim contacting a solicitor. Solicitors argue that independent legal advice is essential because of the clear conflict of interest for insurance companies, which try to keep their compensation amounts as low as possible.
The practice of third party capture has been around for several years in the UK and has also started to appear in Ireland. The Association of British Insurers is expected to publish soon a new voluntary code of conduct that specifies how to contact victims and in particular ensures that a victim’s right to independent legal advice is respected. In the UK, insurance company activities are regulated by the Financial Services Authority and are not subject to the 2006 Compensation Act. There have been calls for an administrative approach to injury compensation claims in the UK, with the systems in Ireland and New Zealand cited as examples. The Irish insurance successfully lobbied for the creation of the Injuries Board. There was an immediate drop in the amount of compensation paid to victims – and a corresponding benefit of a drop in insurance premiums and increase in insurance company profits. However, people are now more aware that they should use a solicitor with the Injuries Board for anything but the most simple personal injury claim. The injury compensation payouts in Ireland have now returned to more regular levels the interests of victims are now usually represented by solicitors. However, the Injuries Board has resulted in much faster processing of claims so its overall impact has been beneficial.