No Win No Fee changes and the spending cuts will hit older people’s access to justice
By ECM Plus staff
ECM Plus +++ 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.
Old age pensioner, 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.
Mrs 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 a court date of 10th November was set and it became likely that a punishing success fee would be awarded to Mrs 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. 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. Add in cuts to local government funding making street repairs a low priority and you have a perfect storm for injury without redress.”