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Posts by: Charlotte Farrell

Common Cycling Injuries and How We Can Help

This entry was posted in For you on by .

Cycling is a fantastic way to get and stay fit. Regular cycling can also help you lose weight, and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. People who cycle regularly in adulthood typically have a fitness level of someone ten years younger, and a life expectancy two years above average.

Yet, over half the people questioned in a survey carried out by YouGov, commissioned by RoSPA in March 2015, said that they don’t cycle, with the main reasons being ‘concerns around the safety of road cycling’ and ‘concerns about driver’s treating them badly.’

In 2015, 18,844 cyclists were injured in reported road accidents, including 3,339 who were killed or seriously injured.

 

Common cycling accidents

  • Drivers pulling out into the path of a cyclist
  • Drivers turning across the path of a cyclist
  • Drivers failing to see cyclists when turning or changing lanes
  • Vehicle doors opening in front of an oncoming cyclist
  • Potholes and other road defects

Around 80% of cycling accidents occur in the daylight. The most dangerous hours for cyclists are between 3.00pm-6.00pm and 8.00am-9.00am on weekdays. However, cycling accidents in the dark are more likely to be fatal. More cycling accidents occur during the spring and summer months than in autumn and winter. However, the casualty rate in terms of miles travelled is higher over the autumn and winter period.

 

Common cycling injuries 

  • Soft tissue injuries to the neck, shoulders and back
  • Fractured collarbone
  • Wrist injuries
  • Fractured pelvis and coccyx
  • Fractures to the legs, ankles or feet
  • Head injuries
  • Psychological injuries

 

If you have been involved in a non-fault road traffic accident as a cyclist and sustained an injury as a result; you may be entitled to compensation. Our Personal Injury team will be able to advise you on your prospects of success and we may be able to act for you under a Conditional Fee Agreement, on a no win no fee basis.

 

Please contact the Personal Injury team at Donald Race & Newton Solicitors on 01282 433241 to speak to our friendly Personal Injury team, or email info@drnlaw.co.uk.

 

 

What to do if You’re Unhappy with Your Holiday

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Most holidays don’t go perfectly to plan. A slightly delayed flight, a bit of sunburn, a long queue at check in or a bad meal can be minor frustrations and are commonplace. But what happens when there are more serious issues that needs to be resolved? What if you’ve had the holiday from hell and you feel you deserve some compensation? Maybe you arrived and your luxury hotel was closed and they put you in a motel, maybe someone in your party suffered serious illness or injury as a result of the hotel’s negligence, maybe your flight home was cancelled and you had to pay for another…

Well, here is our step by step guide on how you can handle the situation and seek to resolve it:

 

1.) Have perspective


After a long day of travelling and minor delays it can be easy to see every little inconvenience as a nightmare. Think about the big picture, perhaps you are feeling more aggrieved than you normally might, look at the situation objectively. Don’t ruin a potentially great holiday before it starts by looking at everything with a negative mindset before you’ve had a chance to digest it.

 

2.) Speak to your tour operator


If you booked a package holiday you will likely have more chance of a quick resolution and of successfully claiming compensation should the dispute get that far. A package holiday company will have designed the whole holiday for you and made promises that they should have delivered on. Speak to them in the first instance, be reasonable and objective and they may well be able to resolve the situation there and then.

Do make sure you speak up quickly, give them chance to rectify the problem quickly, this will also put you in good standing should you try to claim later.

If you haven’t booked a package holiday, take the same approach with the specific operators you have a grievance with. This could be the airline, hotel, an excursion agent/operator or a transfer operator.

 

3.) Gather some evidence


Should your problem not be resolved to your satisfaction, gather some evidence. Take photos, videos, copies of communication and contact details of witnesses, if relevant. This is crucial should you want to progress your claim to court. It will also put you in a strong position should you present a case for compensation directly to the operator.

 

4.) Act on your evidence


You’ve arrived home, nothing has been done and you feel like you want to take the matter further in your quest for compensation. Collate all the detail you have and speak to a solicitor.

 

5.) Call DRN


Call our team of experts in cross border claims and over seas litigation. Led by director Matthew Finley they can be contacted on 01282 433 241.

 

6.) We will evaluate your case


We will provide you with a free initial assessment, advise you on the best legal course of action and the likely result of any claim. We will also advise whether we can pursue your claim under a ‘no win, no fee’ premise.

 

7.) We will proceed your claim for you


If instructed we will proceed. Whether you are looking to claim against loss of value, loss of enjoyment, out of pocket expenses, or as a result of minor or serious injury, our team has vast experience in managing travel claims, giving you the best chance of a successful outcome.

Most holidays aren’t quite perfect but that doesn’t stop you having a great time, which is certainly the case for the majority. However, if you are part of the unfortunate few and you’ve had a holiday that has left you wishing you had stayed at home, please do contact us today on 01282 433 241.

Too young to die

This entry was posted in Road Traffic Law on by .

Young drivers are involved in a huge proportion of road crashes, due to a combination of inexperience and a tendency of many to take risks.

Less than one in 12 licence holders is under 25, yet one in five fatal and serious injury crashes involve a driver this age. Often the victims are young people themselves: road crashes are the biggest killer of young people in the UK and worldwide.

What needs to be done?

To help young people be safer as drivers and passengers, we need a better driver training and testing system and compulsory road safety education. That’s why Brake call for graduated driver licensing (GDL), a system that allows new drivers to develop skills and experience gradually while less exposed to danger.

There are a number of variations on graduated driver licensing, but Brake calls for a system that includes a 12-month learner period, an initial test, and then a two-year novice period when you can drive independently but with restrictions – such as a late-night driving curfew. It’s used in other countries and it’s predicted it would prevent 400 deaths and serious injuries a year in the UK. We also call for better access to affordable public transport for young people, so fewer need to start driving in their teens.
As well as calling for government action, Brake works proactively with schools, colleges and emergency services to educate young people about staying safe on the road.

If you have been involved in a non-fault road traffic accident and suffered an injury as a result, Donald Race & Newton Solicitors are here to help. We offer a no win no fee service and our helpful and friendly team will deal with your personal injury claim quickly and efficiently. Call Charlotte Farrell or Hayley Pickles on 01282 433241 or email Charlotte cf@drnlaw.co.uk or Hayley hp@drnlaw.co.uk

Carrying out a Redundancy Exercise

This entry was posted in News on by .

On behalf of Matthew Finley

Here’s an overview of redundancy and of the steps employers must take to get the process, and their decisions, right.

What is redundancy?

Redundancy is essentially where you:

(a) close your business;

(b) close a workplace;or

(c) need fewer employees to do a certain type of work, or to work in a certain place.

Many employers use the word ‘redundancy’ to describe a redundancy where someone’s performance is drifting off a bit, or because they think if they call it ‘redundancy’ then they don’t need to go through the procedures they know exist for misconduct issues. But that can cause problems, because if the dismissal isn’t technically a ‘redundancy’ – as defined above – or you don’t follow the correct redundancy process, you can end up struggling to defend an employment tribunal claim.

So you need to get it right. This begins by getting to grips with the situation in which you find yourself, and understanding what redundancy means. Employers can come unstuck when they assume that they are in a redundancy situation when they’re not, and vice versa.

If any one of the three situations above apply, you’ve passed first base. You can begin the redundancy process. But the rules on how you should go about this, and the steps you need to take, are strict. Even if you are clear that you have a ‘redundancy’ reason for dismissing staff, the dismissal can quite easily become unfair if you trip up at any of the stages.

Remember that redundancy rules only apply to your employees. They do not apply to agency workers, or self-employed contractors, for example.

There are also special rules which apply if you’re thinking about making more than 20 people redundant within a rolling 90-day period. They include notifying the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, and holding consultations with a union (if you don’t recognise a union, you have to hold an election for employee representatives). These rules are demanding, complex, and carry serious financial consequences if they’re not followed. Please speak to us if you are concerned that you might be making more than 20 people redundant within a rolling 90-day period and we’ll help you through the process.

Think through the process

Plan the redundancy before you start. Map out the steps, the timings and the people from within your business’s management that you will need to involve. Remember to take and keep good, written records of what you’ve done and how you reached your decisions. There really is no substitute for this.

Factor into the planning process your contracts and policies. Check to see what they say about redundancy, both in terms of company procedure and redundancy payments. You must comply with your policies (or have a very good reason for departing from them). You will also need to underpin every aspect of your planned redundancy process with ‘reasonableness’, since tribunals are ultimately looking to see if you’ve acted reasonably in every aspect of the dismissal process. In the redundancy context this broadly means letting staff know where they stand; listening and taking on board suggestions; being fair in who you select for redundancy; looking hard for suitable alternative jobs within your business for people who are facing redundancy; and offering a meaningful appeal against dismissal.

There are different ways of going about this and if you are making only a small number of redundancies, there’s no rigid regime that you must follow. There are rules and pieces of guidance to follow but you have some freedom to design a redundancy process around your business and its circumstances.

Define your pool

You may have heard about ‘redundancy pools’ and ‘pools for selection’. These are terms for the groups of people identified as being potentially redundant. Not all will necessarily be made redundant. You will select from these pools the employee or employees who you’ll take through the remainder of the process and who you might, ultimately, dismiss for redundancy.

Sometimes it will be easy to decide which employees should make up a pool. There may be just one person whose role has disappeared, in which case they alone can form the pool and no one else need usually be involved. It’s less straightforward if you have people whose roles cross departments, specialisms, projects or contracts, and locations, for example.

Once you have defined the pool, write to the affected employees and tell them that they are at risk of redundancy. It’s quite common for employers to meet with these employees collectively. Explain why you’re doing what you are doing and invite ideas about ways of reducing the number of people who might ultimately be made redundant, or about ways of avoiding redundancy altogether.

And follow up on suggestions; there could be options available to you that you hadn’t thought about. This doesn’t mean you have to follow your employees’ suggestions – far from it – but you do need to have a credible reason as to why it doesn’t make business sense to follow their suggestions. One of the most common reasons why redundancy dismissals are held to be unfair is that the employer can’t establish that it followed up on suggestions about avoiding redundancy.

Select

You need to have fair selection criteria, against which you can ‘score’ employees in the pool (and those with the lowest scores will be those whom you select for redundancy).

What sort of selection criteria should you use? Length of service, attendance, experience & skills, disciplinary record and performance (where it can be measured objectively) are fairly standard, but it’s up to you to decide the categories that matter most. You are free to give different weightings to different criteria, but be clear and consistent in how you do this.

One of the biggest rules around selection is to avoid anything that requires you to make a subjective assessment. Your opinion of how reliable an employee is, for example, isn’t a valid criterion. You should be able to show how you arrived at the score you did, and that it’s backed up by records you hold – appraisal notes, for example.

Be careful to avoid straying into the realms of discrimination. Selecting an employee for redundancy because you think they’re too old, or too young, will be direct discrimination. Dismissing someone because they are pregnant or on maternity leave will be automatically unfair. But there are less obvious discrimination traps too. Tread carefully where you are using ‘last in, first out’ (‘LIFO’) as a scoring mechanism. It may seem like the fairest way to select staff, but it can be tainted with age discrimination (and sex discrimination too), so you would be risking an unfair dismissal and an indirect discrimination finding against you unless you combined LIFO with other objective criteria.

Scoring people on their attendance, too, can cause difficulties where the employer doesn’t take account of the reasons for an employee’s low score. Maternity leave and disability-related absence are common reasons to bear in mind.

That said, people with a protected characteristic (age, sex, disability, religion/belief, sexual orientation etc) are not immune from selection for redundancy. You will, however, be expected to not treat them any less favourably than their colleagues. The same applies to part-time workers, who have a right to not being treated less favourably than full-timers. So it is unwise to focus on part-time employees, or those who have flexible working agreements, as those to be dismissed during a redundancy process.

Consult

As a pre-cursor to consultation, it is usually worth asking whether any of the employees in the pool would be interested in applying for voluntary redundancy. Remember that if you ask for volunteers, their dismissal will still be for redundancy and so they’re entitled to the usual payments and other terms.

Treat compulsory redundancy as the last resort. You should allow plenty of opportunity for people within your organisation – including the employees directly affected – to come up with ideas of ways to avoid redundancy dismissals. (Don’t forget to consult with those who are absent from work.) Sharing information with employees and inviting them to give their views can sometimes lead to solutions that reshape the proposed redundancy. Perhaps part-time working, salary sacrifices or adjusting your use of agency workers, for example, could provide solutions.

We mentioned earlier that there are specific rules that apply if you are proposing to dismiss 20 or more employees within 90 days. If the number is lower than 20, you still need to consult, but it’s not governed by legislation in the same way. Don’t take that to mean that consultation can be skirted over in cases of smaller-scale redundancies; it’s regarded by tribunals as a really important part of a fair redundancy process.

Write to the employees you’ve provisionally selected for redundancy. Tell them that dismissal is a possibility and that you would like to meet with them individually to discuss:

– their selection – their selection score

– any ideas they may have for avoiding redundancy

– alternative roles you may be able to offer them.

You don’t have to allow employees to be accompanied at these meetings unless your contracts or policies say so, but if they ask to take a colleague or a union representative along, you should allow it.

Show the employee their selection score and explain how you arrived at it. They’ll probably question aspects of this, so be prepared to explain your reasoning and even to adjust your scoring if need be. You won’t usually be required to share with the employee their colleagues’ scores, but it can sometimes help to resolve concerns. The best course of action is usually to wait until the employee takes particular issue with your scoring. Anonymise the scores of their colleagues, making sure that individuals can’t be identified, and share them in that way.

Suitable alternative employment

You have a duty to look for suitable alternative employment for employees who you’re about to make redundant. This duty is an ongoing one, lasting until the employee has been dismissed.

The duty is to look for another role that is suitable. This doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to offer the employee a role – perhaps there just isn’t anything suitable – but you must look and you shouldn’t assume that the employee wouldn’t be interested in taking a lower grade position. Your idea of suitable may be different to theirs, hence there are frequent legal arguments about when this duty has, and hasn’t, been met.

One significant point to bear in mind here: if the potentially redundant employee is on maternity or adoption leave then they have a special entitlement when it comes to offers of suitable alternative employment (generally, they trump other employees). This is an area where you should take legal advice.

Dismiss?

Once you have gone through the full process and have decided there is no option other than to make the employee redundant, you should meet with them to confirm this. Write to them, too. Your letter should set out the terms on which they’ll leave. These include, if they have at least two years’ service, a statutory redundancy payment and other contractual entitlements – enhanced redundancy pay, or holiday pay, for example.

You also need to offer a right of appeal. Just as in a disciplinary dismissal scenario, appoint a new (usually more senior) appeal officer, listen to the employee, and adjourn to consider everything and to explore any new avenues that may have opened up. Then either reverse the dismissal decision or confirm it in writing.

You may want to consider negotiating a settlement agreement to buy out claims that the employee has and to draw a line under their employment.

Summary

Redundancy is often complex. It’s intensive, there’s a lot to it and it challenges employers on many levels. And because it is about the application of broad rules to very specific facts – and an overarching requirement to be fair and reasonable – there is always the potential for employees to make an argument that their redundancy was in some way flawed. That is why we work with clients to advise from start to finish, making sure that they make the best decisions, legally and commercially.

Call Matthew Finley on 01282 433 241

Top Tips

• Do everything you can to avoid having to make staff redundant. You may have options; take them seriously.

• Get to grips with what redundancy means in law, and what it would mean for you and your employees.

• Check redundancy provisions in your contracts and policies. • Do the maths. Be clear about the costs and the benefits.

• Be prepared. Plan the redundancy thoroughly before you embark on it.

• Keep an open mind throughout. Don’t pre-judge and don’t be seen to have made up your mind about anything before you’ve taken the necessary steps.

• Consider all potential ramifications of your decisions before you make them. You could discriminate unwittingly.

• Level the playing field to avoid less favourable treatment.

• Continually ask yourself: is this the reasonable thing to do? Remember that a legally safe redundancy requires (a) a genuine redundancy situation; and (b) a fair process.

• Keep good notes of everything, including your thought processes. Seemingly insignificant details can win and lose cases.

Pre-Medical Settlement Offers: Cash is King or is it?

This entry was posted in News on by .

Tis the season to be jolly but when it comes to settling your personal injury claim on a pre medical basis, a quick cash payment is not always the answer.

As we approach Christmas many Defendant insurers may make a pre medical offer to settle your claim on a pre medical basis. These offers are made by the Defendant insurers and often used in the run up to Christmas in the hope that due to Claimant’s facing an expensive month the offer will be accepted with open arms. However, a pre medical offer is for life not just for Christmas and serious consideration must be taken when considering a pre medical offer.

Often pre medical offers are undervalued in comparison to the injuries suffered by the Claimant. Therefore, we would recommend that you are always medically examined to ensure that you are awarded the correct amount of compensation.

At Donald Race & Newton we offer a free no obligation interview and will conduct the work on a no win no fee basis. For a confidential discussion call the Personal Injury team on 01282 433241.

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