5 personal injury myths

As members of APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers), we are committed to helping injured people receive the justice and compensation they need to get their lives back on track. APIL’s vision is for a society where needless accidents never happen. They promote safety standards and alert the public to hazards, but there are many myths surrounding personal injury law. These are the top 5 as chosen by APIL: –

  1. Schoolchildren are not allowed to play conkers in the playground as schools fear being sued

A small minority of schools practise this but it usually has more to do with the fact that these schools may not have enough playground supervisors available to ensure the children’s safety while playing games such as conkers. Many more schools allow and encourage children to play the game and one headteacher in a primary school in Cambridge holds lessons on how to properly play a game of conkers. The Health and Safety Executive says the risk from playing conkers is very low and not worth worrying about.

  1. Off-duty healthcare professionals are not allowed to step in and help in case they make a mistake and they’re sued

How awful to think that a medical professional, even when off duty, would not help someone who needed their assistance for fear of being sued. Thankfully, most doctors are aware that only proven negligence can result in a successful clinical negligence claim. This myth was so strong that the Government introduced a Bill to exempt these ‘helpful heroes’ from the law even though they were not under threat in the first place and judges had long considered the person’s good intentions when such cases arise.

  1. A woman successfully sued McDonalds for millions of dollars after spilling coffee on herself

Although this one isn’t a myth, the final settlement figure has never been revealed and there were many misconceptions surrounding the case, which had a significant impact on the public’s perception of personal injury claims. When the 79-year-old woman successfully sued them, it was not revealed that McDonalds had already received over 700 other complaints that their coffee was dangerously hot. Many people thought that she was driving when the accident happened but she was a passenger in her grandson’s car. It was also reported that she had suffered minor burns, but in fact, she was permanently disfigured by 3rd-degree burns and partially disabled for 2 years after the accident. She had initially sought to settle her claim for $20,000 but when McDonalds refused, a jury awarded her $2.7 million, although this was later reduced by a judge to $480k even though the judge had found McDonalds to be ‘reckless, callous and willful’. The case was eventually settled for an undisclosed sum.

  1. Homeowners can be sued if they clear snow or ice from the front of their properties if someone slips on it and hurts themselves

For a successful claim, it must be proven that someone was negligent. Using hot water to melt the snow would not be common sense as it may re-freeze and create a dangerous situation, but most people know that using a shovel and putting down grit or salt is the standard solution. We are not aware of a claim of this type being brought and a homeowner would have had to be extremely reckless for a personal injury lawyer to consider taking this on.

  1. If someone falls over, it’s their own fault and they should look where they’re going

There are many stories which evoke this reaction but that may be because all the facts are not known. An example is a 44-year-old man who sued a florist for £1.5 million after he slipped on flower petals in front of the shop. It emerged in evidence that there had been many and repeated complaints that there was a risk to the public because of spilt water and fallen petals from the displays. The court found that the shop owner had no system in place to remove the hazards and was in breach of their duty of care. The resulting injuries from this accident were 6-months of hospitalisation, temporary paralysis and assistance to walk. The man’s life was turned upside down and he couldn’t do the things he used to do. Headlines give a first impression but it’s only when the facts are known that it becomes clear an innocent person was harmed by another’s negligence.

If you want to find out more about APIL and the work they do, follow the link here: – https://www.apil.org.uk/about-apil.

We are lawyers specialising in personal injury compensation claims. If you think you may have a claim, contact us on 01425 275555, email info@simpkinsand.co.uk or complete the form on our website https://www.simpkinsandco.uk/contact-us/. Initial consultations are free, we do no win, no fee and we have Polish lawyers to assist our clients from the Polish community.

We also specialise in medical negligence claims, employment law and family law.


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