Archive for the ‘News & Views’ category

Police reject scheme to crack down on drivers overtaking cyclists too close

October 12th, 2017

We filmed a close pass which shows Hugh’s bike physically shake with the speed of the car which overtakes him too closely. You can watch the video below:

We have been informed by Greater Manchester Police that the offending driver in our video should now be booked onto to a Driver Awareness Course, which would be the first option for someone committing a due care and attention offence, if they have no points for the same offence in the past three years. Although this remains unconfirmed after we since followed up the incident with GMP, we hope he has been reprimanded in some way.

The initiative which sees undercover police posing as cyclists to catch drivers who overtake dangerously close has reduced the amount of cyclists killed or seriously injured by 20% over the last year.

Plain-clothed police officers radio the details of ‘close-pass’ drivers to colleagues to pull over by a police car and also wear body cameras to capture any offences to record the evidence.

Operation ‘Close Pass’, which was introduced by West Midlands police last year, was put into practice in Manchester earlier this year. Police have pulled over 178 drivers and made more than 350 prosecutions using camera footage since 2016.

However, one police department has rejected the scheme arguing it would cause motorists to slow down behind cyclists meaning they would be unable to overtake.

Cambridgeshire Police also rejected operation ‘Close Pass’ as it would mean drivers would have to move into the opposite lane to overtake the cyclist, adding how the roads in Cambridge city are narrow and often very congested.

Cycling campaign groups have argued how the the city’s narrow streets make the need to crack down on close passes even more important and would rather maintain the speed and flow of traffic than the safety of vulnerable road users.

Hugh Potter, Partner and Head of personal injury at Potter Rees Dolan, said:

Think again Cambridge Police. You’re promoting potentially dangerous overtaking to avoid precisely what? Car drivers slowing down!

Hugh Potter is a personal injury solicitor with Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about the issues raised in this article and wish to speak with Hugh or any other member of the team please contact us on 0161 237 5888.

Amazing recovery for man who had plasma transfusion after motorcycle accident

October 4th, 2017

gnaas.jpgOur client became the first patient to have plasma transfusion by northern air ambulance just days before its introduction.

John Beaumont suffered spinal fractures and brain herniation when he was involved in a collision with a car when riding his motorcycle in Kendal.

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) treated John at the side of the road and was put into a medically induced coma.

Just days before, the charity launched a trial of the pioneering pre-hospital treatment whereby plasma is administered at the scene.

John was the first person to receive a unit of plasma which no doubt helped his amazing recovery as it was used to preserve the blood flow and prevent ongoing brain damage.

As well as his spinal and brain injury, John also suffered multiple orthopaedic injuries including a fractured collar bone, broken shoulder blade and a broken leg as well as nerve damage.

John spent four weeks in a coma after being flown to Royal Preston Hospital where he staggered doctors with his impressive recovery.

After recently visiting the GNAAS with his young family (pictured) where he personally thanked the paramedics, John said:

Doctors didn’t know if I would survive. Many people are flabbergasted that I did with the amount of injuries I sustained. I have no doubt that I wouldn’t be here without GNAAS. It’s phenomenal.

Helen has acted for many seriously injured motorcyclists including settling a claim for hundreds of thousands of pounds for another young man who suffered serious orthopaedic injuries. She said:

The timely input of the GNAAS, to include the innovative lifesaving plasma, clearly helped John to be able to survive his multiple life threatening injuries. Due to the complexity & severity of John’s injuries, he still needs ongoing rehabilitation, where he continues to give 100% in his determination to expedite his ongoing recovery.

Helen Shaw is the personal injury Senior Litigation Manager here at Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about motorcycle accidents, personal injury issues or indeed any other aspect of this article and wish to speak to Helen or any other member of the team please contact us on 0161 237 5888 or email Helen directly.

Concussion to be diagnosed by app that records pupil changes

September 19th, 2017

concussionc.jpgA new smartphone app measures the change in pupil size to identify concussion and other brain injuries.

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed the app, called PupilScreen, which looks into the pupil using the phone’s video camera.

The changes in the eye’s response to the flash on the camera are then recorded as the change in pupil size has long been used to assess severe brain injury (known as pupillary light reflex).

During the study, brain injuries were identified almost perfectly accurately using the new app and researchers hope it will be made commercially available within two years.

Amy Wilmott, personal injury solicitor at Potter Rees Dolan, said:

This ground-breaking discovery has potential to positively improve the lives of people who suffer concussive head injuries, whose symptoms are often difficult to diagnose and, at times, are missed.

Concussion can cause an array of debilitating symptoms including; severe headaches, dizziness and cognitive difficulties and so the ability to identify this condition at an early stage would ensure that the affected person has early access to treatment for the best possible outcomes. In civil litigation, this would also seek to reduce costs in investigating this complex issue.

There is currently no certain way to diagnose concussion so this app will be able to determine whether someone has sustained a concussive brain injury.

With around one in three adults over 65 suffer at least one fall a year in the UK, the app will be particularly useful to identify concussion in the elderly who have suffered a fall.

We’re experienced in helping our clients who have suffered from post-concussional syndrome gain the compensation they deserve. Our solicitors, who are committed to providing the best possible legal advice and client care, will deal with your case in a sensitive and effective manner.

Read more about post-concussional syndrome and personal injury claims for brain injury here.

Amy Wilmott is a personal injury solicitor with Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about the issues raised in this article and wish to speak with Amy or any other member of the personal injury team please contact us on 0161 237 5888 or email Amy.

Car-dooring: time for a new approach?

September 12th, 2017

Image result for car-dooringA campaign to raise awareness of “car-dooring” is needed to save lives on Britain’s roads, Cycling UK has said.

The campaign group says cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians are being injured and killed by drivers and their passengers carelessly opening doors.

It wants the Dutch reach, a method which involves opening doors with the “wrong” hand, forcing them to turn and see if anyone’s approaching, to be taught to new drivers.

Government figures from 2011-2015 show that eight people died from carelessly-opened car doors. Of these deaths five were cyclists knocked off their bikes. In total 3,108 people were reported hurt but Cycling UK believes the true figure is probably much higher.

Pete Rogers, Director of Like A River is a recent victim of car-dooring. He said:

Car dooring!! Been there and it’s a constant worry. Mine was an inside lane passenger who just didn’t look, took me out and apologised, bent forks injured shoulder and ripped kit. One of the many 1000s that go un-reported.

As a daily commuter and experienced cyclist the way to ‘try’ and avoid car dooring is two fold. Cyclists – ride away from the cars and be aware, however when in a cycle lane (which are generally narrow), you do really have to slow down and be even more aware, especially being on the inside. Motorists – Look behind you. It’s not rocket science but education.

Elderly woman flung from wheelchair due to pothole in the road

August 28th, 2017

 

ivy.jpgA pothole covered by leaves left a disabled old lady with injuries after she was catapulted from her wheelchair.

Seventy five-year-old Ivy was being pushed along the road in Moss Side by her husband when the wheel was caught in the pothole and she fell from the chair.

She was taken to hospital with a broken finger and bruising to her face where she stayed overnight for treatment.

The great-grandmother, who previously suffered a stroke, is still in pain following the accident.

Hugh Potter, partner and personal injury solicitor at Potter Rees Dolan, said:

A horrible pothole in Moberly caused me to crash off my road bike. I broke my collar bone in three pieces and smashed my helmet. I needed to have an operation and was off work. I am suing the local authority.

I have my own claim ongoing against Macclesfield for its failure to repair dangerous pot holes promptly so I have a vested interest but the roads are in a poor state, particularly those given low priority. It would have been far better for me and cheaper for everyone if the road had been safe.

Manchester City Council have since filled in the pothole after Ivy’s accident and have recently announced a £100m road repair scheme.

Read a blog on the dangers of potholes for cyclists from Jeremy Smith, personal injury solicitor, about a cyclist who won a claim against the council after he crashed due to a pothole.

Hugh Potter is a personal injury solicitor with Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about the issues raised in this article and wish to speak with Hugh or any other member of the team please contact us on 0161 237 5888.

Potholes, the injuries they cause and claiming compensation

August 10th, 2017

Potholes are an issue we have discussed in the past and they are certainly something Hugh Potter is well aware of after breaking his collarbone when his bicycle crashed due to the damaged road.

We read today how a pensioner sadly died after falling from his bike on a road ‘notorious’ for potholes. The skull fractures he suffered resulted in a severe brain injury. Many residents in the area are now concerned over the state of their roads.

But what happens when someone injures themselves; whether as a pedestrian, runner or cyclist? Who do you make a complaint to and can you claim compensation?

One Friday afternoon, a member of the public called Barnsley Council to report they had noticed a deep pothole on a ‘local access road’ which was logged and forwarded on to the highway inspectors.

However, the complaint was stored on the system over the weekend and so nothing was done to fix the pothole that day or the next which would usually be the case on any other weekday.

On the Saturday evening, another local resident was out jogging when he stepped on the pothole, causing him to lose his balance and he fell. He suffered an injury to his ankle on which he couldn’t bear weight for 10 days.

By Monday morning, the highway inspector noticed the complaint made on the Friday and the pothole was repaired the following day.

However, when the injured man claimed negligence, the council denied liability and so he issued proceedings.

This story highlights the need for highway inspectors and the council to have systems in place for responding to reported potholes, especially for hazardous defects such as this.

Having limited resources, as shown in the above example, is no defence when considering a compensation claim.

Hugh Potter, partner and personal injury solicitor at Potter Rees Dolan, said:

I have my own claim ongoing against Macclesfield for its failure to repair dangerous pot holes promptly so I have a vested interest but the roads are in a poor state, particularly those given low priority (often quieter routes favoured by cyclists).

Last year, we reported how the government confirmed an investment of £50 million to repair hundreds of thousands of potholes on the UK’s roads.

Read a blog on the dangers of potholes for cyclists from Jeremy Smith, personal injury solicitor, about a cyclist who won a claim against the council after he crashed due to a pothole.

 

Hugh Potter is a personal injury solicitor with Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about the issues raised in this article and wish to speak with Hugh or any other member of the team please contact us on 0161 237 5888.

The dangers faced by cyclists….even on designated pathways

July 19th, 2017

One thing you probably wouldn’t expect when cycling along the Fallowfield Loop is a motorbike to careen past you in a flash, but that’s what Hugh Potter caught on camera this week.

The off-road cycle route south of the city is allocated for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders only between Chorlton-cum-Hardy through Fallowfield and Levenshulme to Gorton and Fairfield.

Motorbike barriers were previously in place on the Fallowfield Loop in an effort to prevent over-sized bikes from using the pathway after the community showed concerns for the safety of path users.

However, the barriers were were recently removed as they also could prevent people in wheelchairs or those with towing child-trailers from accessing the Fallowfield Loop.

And it seems this has now enabled motorbikes to use the route alongside cyclist and pedestrians which reduces the safety of the other users.

Hugh Potter, head of personal injury at Potter Rees Dolan is a keen cyclist and films our Mug of the Month videos to and from our offices. He witnessed this motorcyclist and said:

Contrary to the views of at least one rider, motorcyclists are not allowed on the Fallowfield Loop….

Watch the video here which shows Hugh signalling for the motorcyclist to slow down but, presumably due to the speed of the bike, blink and you’ll miss it! So we’ve captured a still image below too.

#

Hugh Potter is a personal injury solicitor with Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about the issues raised in this article and wish to speak with Hugh or any other member of the team please contact us on 0161 237 5888.

 

How accessible is Manchester city centre to people with disabilities?

June 19th, 2017
Do you know how accessible Manchester city centre is for people with disabilities? We spent the afternoon with one of our clients, who is a wheelchair user, to expose just how inaccessible our city really is…

Manchester is a modern, vibrant city that is constantly evolving. Areas such as the Northern Quarter, attract trendy young professionals with their quirky art galleries, and exciting food, music and cultural events. There is no denying it is an attractive place to live or visit. But swept under its slick, urban appeal lurks an age-old problem that excludes a considerable percentage of the population; large parts of the city are still inaccessible for disabled people.

When we invited our client, Sara, a wheelchair user, to come and join us for an afternoon of filming around the city centre to raise awareness of accessibility barriers for disabled people, she was initially apprehensive.

She explained to us that to travel from her local train station in a Greater Manchester suburb, she would have to contact the train company at least 24 hours in advance to arrange assistance because it is not readily provided at the station. Last minute trips are simply not an option for her on public transport.

sdadsdadasdasdd.jpg

She also expressed anxiety at the thought of being in a busy city centre. Sara has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS), a condition that affects the body’s connective tissue and causes her joints to dislocate from simple actions such as picking up her handbag. She explained that she typically avoids city centres because she does not feel entirely safe.

Despite this, she bravely agreed to drive into the city centre in her specially adapted car to meet us for an afternoon of filming. This is what we uncovered…

Problematic public transport

We decided to pay a visit to one of the city centre train stations. Upon arrival we were greeted by a set of stairs, at the top of which was a sign pointing to an accessible entrance. This wasn’t very helpful, as there was no lift nearby.

Eventually, we went outside and navigated to a different entrance of the same train station – the accessible one. However, the poor signage in and around the station made it difficult to find. Sara doesn’t visit the city centre often, so we had to show her where the accessible entrance was (using prior knowledge), she said she would have been very confused and anxious if the same scenario had unfolded if she was alone.

We then ventured to another popular city centre train station to see if it was more accessible. While a step-free exit was much easier to find, it still posed a challenge. The station is located at the top of a steep hill and Sara did not feel comfortable navigating down the slope safely. She pointed out that her wheelchair is a high quality powered chair (which she only acquired after joining a long waiting list), and that other people using manual, less sturdy chairs would really struggle navigating down the hill. Loose flags and cobblestones further added to her distress. With EDS, going over a cobblestone too quickly can result in her dislocating a joint.

It’s understandable that some older buildings are harder to modify and make accessible, but broken flags on a steep hill leading to one of the city’s most popular public transport stations is simply unacceptable.

Inaccessible ‘disabled’ toilets

addddddddddddddd.jpg

Inside one of the city’s train stations, we investigated a public access toilet marked with a wheelchair sign, indicating that it is disabled-access friendly. Sara unlocked the door using her universal disabled access key fob.What was inside shocked all of us.

The door opened to reveal that the allegedly disabled-friendly toilet was being used as a storage facility… for a motorbike! The bike made it much more difficult for Sara to navigate in her wheelchair. The floor inside the tiny toilet cubicle was also wet and slippy, and Sara mentioned that if she were to attempt to use the toilet and fall, it is highly likely that she would suffer a serious injury.

Disabled toilets are supposed to be a safe place for people with disabilities to use the toilet – a basic human right. Employees who abuse their purpose and use them as a storage (or parking!) facility should be disciplined.

Regular checks of disabled toilets should be enforced, to make sure that they are safe and usable. What we witnessed could not even be classed as meeting basic safety levels. Are we going to accept this treatment of disabled people in our society?

Small obstacles add to larger frustrations

We even encountered obstacles while navigating pavements on main and side streets that an able-bodied person wouldn’t even consider to be a problem.

A lamppost erected in the middle of the footpath, and a traffic cone that had been moved from the road to the footpath, both presented challenges as Sara’s only real option was to venture out into the road in her wheelchair to get round the obstacle.

dddddddddddddddddddddddd.jpg

Getting onto the road from the footpath presented a challenge itself, as Sara would have to go back on herself to access the road safely over a dropped curb.

Understandably, this left her feeling frustrated. She mentioned to us that it made her feel like disabled people are treated as an ‘afterthought’, as all the small frustrations add up to make her feel like she doesn’t belong in the city centre.

If there was just a moment that people took to think “would a wheelchair fit through this space?” the city centre would be a much safer and more accessible place. Disabled people are not invisible, they should not be an afterthought.

What message does this send?

Although attitudes towards disability have definitely improved in the 21st century, there are still serious issues in our modern city centres that present huge physical and mental barriers for disabled people. With the construction of more modern infrastructures and buildings comes better accessibility, yet all this hard work is being undone by forgetting the little things like dropped curbs and keeping the pavements clear of obstacles that could prevent a wheelchair user from accessing them.

Disabled people are a huge and important part of our society, and we need and want them in our city centres. To encourage a more accessible and inclusive city, please share our video to raise awareness and put pressure on local councils and businesses to make the city centre a safe and welcome place for people with disabilities.

Should you have any queries about making a clinical negligence or personal injury claim and wish to speak with a member of the team, please contact us on 0161 237 5888.

‘Do not disturb while driving’ on iPhones thanks to new update

June 14th, 2017

iphone.jpgNew ‘do not disturb while driving’ feature is to be included in the next iPhone update software, the iOS 11.

Due later this year, the function is designed to prevent distractions when driving after the new higher penalties for mobile phone use were introduced.

When activated, the software blocks calls, texts and social media notifications when it senses the user is driving.

An automated text response can be sent by the user to notify the person trying to contact them that they are currently driving and unable to talk.

Nicola Mepstead, personal injury solicitor at Potter Rees Dolan, said:

Despite higher penalties for those who are caught using their phone while driving, there still seems to be far too many people who do just that.

We often see the tragic results of drivers being distracted, even if only for a moment, so hopefully upgrades such as this will help it become more difficult and socially unacceptable for people to be distracted by their phones while they should be paying attention to what is going on around them while they are driving.

The new software will also make it impossible for the user to access the phone homescreen when driving to open apps.

If the user is connected to their car via Bluetooth, the new feature will assume the user is driving and will use the car’s WiFi antenna to sense when the car is moving at speed.

There is also a feature for the user to disable the feature by overriding the software marking themselves as ‘not driving’ through the power button.

The announcement from Apple was welcomed by Brake and the RAC who is encouraging motorists to take a personal pledge not to use their mobile phones when driving with their #BePhoneSmart campaign.

Nicola Mepstead specialises in serious personal injury claims with Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about the issues raised in this article and wish to speak with Nicola or any other member of the team, please contact 0800 027 2557.

Many seriously injured clients unhappy with legal system

June 7th, 2017

A recent article in the Law Gazette highlighted the results from a survey which found the legal system is failing them.

The article notes how the legal system should be more compassionate to the individual’s situation and focus on the vulnerable people.

The clients who were happy with their legal representatives felt their team was knowledgeable, experienced and communicative.

As an SIA Accredited firm, the specialist solicitors at Potter Rees Dolan have vast experience and knowledge in such serious injuries and we have commented recently on the issue.

Helen Shaw has specialised in dealing with cases involving spinal cord injury for in excess of 25 years and is Senior Litigation Manager at Potter Rees Dolan.

She said:

I share the concerns expressed by the Spinal Injuries Association which highlight the importance of individuals having access to experienced specialist lawyers who have been accredited by the SIA, with the result that their claims are dealt with more efficiently, expeditiously and with appropriate interim funding being secured throughout the life of the case, to meet their ongoing needs e.g. for appropriate accommodation, care, equipment and relevant therapies

Helen Shaw specialises in serious personal injury claims with Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about the issues raised in this article and wish to speak with Helen or any other member of the team please contact us on 0161 237 5888.