BIRMINGHAM, England, December 27, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
A pensioner who fell over a broken drain cover in East London in 2009 has won compensation for her injuries from Newham Council after a two year fight for justice, but only because the current system of No Win No Fee funding arrangements was in place. Lawyers acting for the Ms Bridget Ferrick warn that the Government's planned changes to the legal system will effectively shut out older people of the justice system.
Bridget Ferrick (71) was sent sprawling when she stepped onto a defective manhole cover in Rawstone Walk in Plaistow. She sustained cuts and bruising to her face, legs and hands and has experienced daily pain in her back since the incident.
Ms Ferrick instructed DBS Law to claim damages from the local authority for her injuries.
Lawyers investigating the case found that the council had been made aware of the defective drain cover by residents after an identical incident three months before Mrs Ferrick was hurt. The council did nothing to rectify the problem.
Despite the compelling evidence Newham Council refused to accept responsibility for the accident.
Mrs Ferrick was forced to endure months of uncertain waiting and worry about the prospect of a court appearance.
It wasn't until the court date was set and it became likely that a punishing success fee would be awarded to Ms Ferrick's solicitors that Newham Council agreed to settle the case.
Mrs Ferrick's legal representative Sam Zaffar said "The tactics used by the council in this case were cynical.
It's something that we are seeing more of in personal injury cases involving older people.
The defendants play a waiting game to wear down the resolve of the elderly victims of their negligence.
"Older people already suffer from a reduced level of access to justice in personal injury cases.
They get less compensation than younger people and the defendants often use more aggressive tactics.
"For older people this situation is set to get worse in 2012. Proposed changes to No Win NO Fee arrangements will cut compensation levels as victims will have to pay legal fees from their pay outs.
Defendants like Newham Council will be incentivised to resist liability with the removal of the success fee from their costs too.
Note to Editors:
The changes to No Win No Fee funding arrangements are contained within the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.
The Bill is currently reaching the final stages in the Lords and is expected to be in force early in 2012. Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly, who is responsible for the bill, has been criticised recently for failing to reveal financial interests in insurance companies who will benefit from the changes to civil litigation funding arrangements.
SOURCE DBS Law