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Should passengers injured in a railway accident seek compensation?

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PG

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As per the thread title, should passengers injured in a railway accident seek compensation?

This has been promoted by a news report which suggests that 3 of the 6 people injured in the HST derailment near Carmont in August are seeking compensation.

Survivors of the Stonehaven train derailment which claimed three lives are to seek compensation.
Driver Brett McCullough, 45, conductor Donald Dinnie, 58, and passenger Christopher Stuchbury, 62, died in the accident in August.
An interim report said the train hit washed-out rocks and gravel.
Digby Brown Solicitors confirmed it was involved in the early stages of legal action in the case. It is understood three survivors are involved.

Digby Brown partner Neil Davidson in Aberdeen said: "This was a tragic incident that caused the unnecessary loss of three innocent lives and unnecessary injuries to all of those involved and our condolences go to the families of the individuals who lost their lives.
"But we are of the view that this incident was avoidable and our clients have many questions about the crash.
"Particularly, what series of events led to the crash occurring? We are going to assist them in receiving the answers to their questions."


AFAIK one person was described as being in a stable condition in hospital one week after the derailment and was discharged from hospital 2 days later. Another was in hospital for 5 days while the remaining 4 were released within 48 hours.

I think the statement in the quote above that this firm of solicitors are going to assist in answering questions about the crash is a red herring as the RAIB will in due course be providing those answers.

Without knowing the extent of the injuries sustained and their effects on the people's subsequent abilities to lead normal lives it is a difficult question and one which I suspect has no clear cut answer...
 
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Bletchleyite

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I don't think I would in circumstances where I would make a full recovery. I don't believe in financial compensation for anguish.

If I was paralysed, say, I might well consider claiming for the cost of adaptations to my home. The railway is insured (or chooses to self-insure, but that's up to the TOC), and that's exactly what it is for.
 

EcsWhyZee

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They bought tickets expecting to travel safely and to time to their destination.

This didn’t happen so of course they should be compensated.

One could argue the minimum they should receive is at least the cost of the ticket they paid. I think most would argue for a fair bit more. I guess how much is the contentious bit, not the existence of compensation.
 

Bletchleyite

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They bought tickets expecting to travel safely and to time to their destination.

This didn’t happen so of course they should be compensated.

Given how long it takes to evacuate in the event of a serious accident, 100% Delay Repay would certainly be applicable. But I'm not sure that that is the sort of compensation which was being referred to, to be honest - I think we are talking larger sums.
 

EcsWhyZee

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Given how long it takes to evacuate in the event of a serious accident, 100% Delay Repay would certainly be applicable. But I'm not sure that that is the sort of compensation which was being referred to, to be honest - I think we are talking larger sums.
Agreed. Like I went on to say, it’s the value of the compensation that is up for discussion.

I was just pointing this out vs the title of this thread which makes it sound like very existence of compensation should be discussed. I think it’s very clear some amount is going to be paid.
 

the sniper

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I wonder what cut of the Rail Travel Vouchers Digby Brown Solicitors will be getting?
 

jkkne

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If a payout helps someone who may be suffering a form of PTSD or now has anxiety and perhaps needs help overcoming it get access to the right care and quickly (knowing how burdened nhs mental health services are) with a wee bit of financial security then I am all for it to be honest.

Injuries aren’t just broken bones
 

najaB

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As per the thread title, should passengers injured in a railway accident seek compensation?
To the extent of their direct losses: yes, definitely.

Plus a reasonable amount for pain and suffering - especially if the cause is found to be negligence or something reasonably foreseeable.
 

JohnMcL7

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Given the severity of the crash I'm not surprised the passengers are seeking compensation and there's certainly far more minor road accidents that money is paid out on. If it was a very minor derailment I could understand there being a question mark over it but that's certainly not the case here, looking at the pictures of the wreckage was shocking enough and I don't like to think what it was like to be on that train.

I don't like the tone from the solicitor claiming they just want answers which if that was just the case then they can wait for the RAIB report which will be extremely thorough, I don't see what's wrong with saying the passengers suffered injuries and seeking compensation which is certainly not unusual these days.
 

pompeyfan

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Those that were hospitalised were likely to have been off work for a substantial time. If this has led to a loss of earnings compared to the average previous of 4 months earning then they are entitled to that money. They should also be recompensed financially for any injuries and pain/suffering they sustained. As others have said, through no fault of their own they’ve had life changing experiences for the worse.
 

bluenoxid

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With regards to getting answers (and those with a legal background will know more than me), I assume that the legal firm will intend to represent at the coroners, civil for compensation and any potential criminal investigation. In addition, would legal representation be expected in an RAIB interview.
 

Surreytraveller

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And compensation payments probably drive the industry to become safer by increasing the costs of accidents
 

Ianno87

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*Fairly* sure that if (heaven forbid) I was seriously injured in an accident, my first thought whilst being removed on a stretcher wouldn't be "I wonder what Delay Repay I'll get for this?"

And compensation payments probably drive the industry to become safer by increasing the costs of accidents

????

Absolutely nobody in the industry thinks "let's not have an accident, it'll be too expensive". Rail is safety-focused to it's corem
 

Alfonso

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Yes. While the British/English/Scottish law is by no means perfect, it is reasonable and based on compensating people for genuine losses (earnings,disability, health and care costs etc) not rewarding punitive damages.
 

AndyW33

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Scotland doesn't do coroners, there's a completely different legal structure, if there is a Fatal Accident Inquiry no doubt the lawyers will represent the injured there
 

crosscity

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At one time you could buy insurance to cover injuries along with your ticket at the station (not that I ever did). That implied to me that there wasn't an automatic right to compensation. I wonder what changed to stop such insurance being sold.
 

Taunton

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Is it passengers seeking compensation or more lawyers seeking revenue opportunities? I see the law firm have managed to get their name into the linked news report here multiple times, a good bit of free advertising for them here paid for by your TV licence.
 

peters

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I think if the train operator or Network Rail is to blame then they would actually be fined and if that happens why shouldn't the passengers who were on the train which was involved in an accident be compensated?

I notice @Bletchleyite mentions not if he makes a full recovery. However, I notice from the quote that someone spent 5 days in hospital so presumably they couldn't work for at least 5 days, so they may have lost out financially due to the crash depending on their employer's sick pay scheme.

I'd also argue at a basic level if you were on a train involved in an accident and you ended up being taken to hospital, that once you are discharged you may have to either get home or to your original destination at further expense. Therefore, I would suggest as a minimum the customer should get a full refund for the ticket they purchased and any costs incurred in getting home or to their original destination, following medical treatment. If train operators were legally required to provide that it might prevent some people approaching solicitors following an accident, which could then work favourably for the train operator as the solicitors wouldn't be trying to claim back their costs from 'the other side.'
 

Wilts Wanderer

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I suspect if I was ever (God forbid) in a crash on the scale of Carmont, I suspect it would be a struggle for me to get on a train again. At the very least it would be a continuous source of worry and anxiety. I would expect to be compensated for that.
 

peters

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I suspect if I was ever (God forbid) in a crash on the scale of Carmont, I suspect it would be a struggle for me to get on a train again. At the very least it would be a continuous source of worry and anxiety. I would expect to be compensated for that.

Yes I know someone who was involved in a car accident almost 20 years ago and even now he's only comfortable doing short, local journeys in a car whether as a driver or passenger.
 

Bletchleyite

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I notice @Bletchleyite mentions not if he makes a full recovery. However, I notice from the quote that someone spent 5 days in hospital so presumably they couldn't work for at least 5 days, so they may have lost out financially due to the crash depending on their employer's sick pay scheme.

Yes, possibly so, and that may need to be claimed. Though it's difficult to get too consequential with it - what if a £10m business deal was lost? So there are limits there to what makes sense.

The root of my view on compensation is that it should be to pay for out of pocket costs incurred as a result of the incident rather than to compensate for anguish.

Yes I know someone who was involved in a car accident almost 20 years ago and even now he's only comfortable doing short, local journeys in a car whether as a driver or passenger.

I'm not clear how money compensates for that. If you've got ten grand you're still scared of going in a car. I can think of only one case where it might make sense - you're scared of driving so you take taxis instead at high cost - but if you were scared of road transport entirely your life would probably get a lot cheaper than if you owned a car overall as you'd most likely travel much less.

What might make sense would be for the out of pocket expense of a course of suitable counselling or similar to be paid for in order to improve the situation.

The whole principle should be about a requirement to put the person as close as is possible to the situation they were in before the crash, rather than to dole out sums of money alone.
 

ABB125

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It's an interesting question. Personally, if I were involved in some sort of accident it would depend on the severity of the accident. A few bruises? Delay repay should be sufficient. Hospitalisation for a few days? A free all line rover wouldn't go amiss, plus any income lost through not working. Some sort of major injury which prevents me from working ever again? A large sum covering future lost income etc would be in order.
Was compensation paid to the survivors of the Grayrigg accident? If not, would compensation for the survivors from Stonehaven set a precedent? My main worry with that is that it might encourage the parasite lawyers to go after the railway whenever something "not normal" happens, such as a minor derailment where the only problem caused is a few hours' delay.
Furthermore, how much of any payout will this law firm be taking in fees? If it's decided that the survivors are due compensation, they should receive all of it, rather than paying however much to some lawyers. (This reminds me of a story my dad's told me: his dad's business had overpaid some tax, so he employed some lawyers to find out how much and to get it back. Eventually, a fairly substantial sum was refunded. The lawyers' fee was exactly the same as the refund. What a coincidence...)

Apologies if any of this sounds insensitive, it's not intended to be.
 

Bletchleyite

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Furthermore, how much of any payout will this law firm be taking in fees? If it's decided that the survivors are due compensation, they should receive all of it, rather than paying however much to some lawyers.

How should the lawyers be paid for the work they have done? (OK, you can award costs separately, but that's just the same as awarding a higher level of compensation from which the solicitors are paid; the figure that matters is what you get, not what model is used to calculate it).
 

ABB125

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How should the lawyers be paid for the work they have done? (OK, you can award costs separately, but that's just the same as awarding a higher level of compensation from which the solicitors are paid; the figure that matters is what you get, not what model is used to calculate it).
They should be paid, but as I've never had any dealings with the legal industry I can't properly comment on it. I fully expect that I'm slightly biased against the industry though (due to the story I mentioned in my post).
 

35B

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Yes, possibly so, and that may need to be claimed. Though it's difficult to get too consequential with it - what if a £10m business deal was lost? So there are limits there to what makes sense.

The root of my view on compensation is that it should be to pay for out of pocket costs incurred as a result of the incident rather than to compensate for anguish.



I'm not clear how money compensates for that. If you've got ten grand you're still scared of going in a car. I can think of only one case where it might make sense - you're scared of driving so you take taxis instead at high cost - but if you were scared of road transport entirely your life would probably get a lot cheaper than if you owned a car overall as you'd most likely travel much less.

What might make sense would be for the out of pocket expense of a course of suitable counselling or similar to be paid for in order to improve the situation.

The whole principle should be about a requirement to put the person as close as is possible to the situation they were in before the crash, rather than to dole out sums of money alone.
Aren't there three questions here, a specific one about whether it's appropriate for these specific individuals to make claims, a general one about what is or isn't appropriate to seek compensation for, and then a third about how the lawyers involved are paid?

I refuse to criticise people for seeking compensation in accordance with legislation and legal precedent. Without access to details of the individuals concerned, I am in no position to judge what impact Carmont has had on them, and see no reason why they should be treated any less well than a victim of an incident elsewhere. Likewise, lawyers are entitled to be paid for their work, and I would not have access to the courts restricted to those who already have the money to pay for legal advice. The only point on which I'd be robust is that legal fees should not be deducted from compensation - the compensation needs to relate to the person, whereas the costs should be treated separately. The amounts paid may well be the same, but it's important that the person receiving the compensation gets the value that's assessed for them, not an adjusted amount that allows for deductions, and acts to inflate the understanding of what is paid.

That leaves the question of compensation. While I'm uncomfortable about compensation for injury being measured in financial terms, it stands as a proxy measure for the whole complicated mess of other factors in a way that allows for some kind of equivalence. I also know from personal experience how it can serve an important role in acknowledging the impact of an incident on someone involved - even where the consequences of the incident didn't themselves impose a financial cost.
 

peters

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Yes, possibly so, and that may need to be claimed. Though it's difficult to get too consequential with it - what if a £10m business deal was lost? So there are limits there to what makes sense.

The root of my view on compensation is that it should be to pay for out of pocket costs incurred as a result of the incident rather than to compensate for anguish.



I'm not clear how money compensates for that. If you've got ten grand you're still scared of going in a car. I can think of only one case where it might make sense - you're scared of driving so you take taxis instead at high cost - but if you were scared of road transport entirely your life would probably get a lot cheaper than if you owned a car overall as you'd most likely travel much less.

What might make sense would be for the out of pocket expense of a course of suitable counselling or similar to be paid for in order to improve the situation.

The whole principle should be about a requirement to put the person as close as is possible to the situation they were in before the crash, rather than to dole out sums of money alone.

I would presume if a business is negotiating a deal worth £10m, it would involve multiple people so unless they were all on the train, the reason for it falling through can't solely relate to a train accident.

With car accidents it gets more complicated as if you were driving and the driver of the other vehicle is at fault, it could still be that would you did or didn't do in response to their error caused the accident to be worse or better than it would otherwise have been.
 

35B

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They should be paid, but as I've never had any dealings with the legal industry I can't properly comment on it. I fully expect that I'm slightly biased against the industry though (due to the story I mentioned in my post).
That story is a great illustration of why it's always important to be sure of what you expect to get out of an action - in a commercial matter like that, I'd never instruct lawyers if I thought the bill was going to be anything like what I'd get back if successful.
 

Alex C.

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There are two elements to this - there is likely to be compensation due under the contract the passengers had to get from A to B. This would extend to immediate out of pocket expenses and is likely to be minimal.

The other aspect would be claiming for the personal injury, which is going to require some degree of culpability on the part of the train operator or Network Rail as the claim would normally be brought under the tort of negligence. Compensation isn't an automatic entitlement just because something has happened, someone usually needs to be at fault. There are some strict liability situations where fault is not required but I'm not aware of anything unique to the railway which would mean this is the case - happy to be corrected though, it's not my area of expertise.

those caught up in the Grayrigg derailment would likely have received compensation but in that case Network Rail were fined a significant sum of money so it seems clear there was an element of fault.

The rules for legal fees have changed considerably over the years and more legal costs used to be recoverable from the at fault party. Now legal fees are usually taken from any compensation award and are capped at 25%

Yes, possibly so, and that may need to be claimed. Though it's difficult to get too consequential with it - what if a £10m business deal was lost? So there are limits there to what makes sense.

There are lots of legal principles which talk about the remoteness of damage - it would be very unlikely for a court to consider Scotrail liable for this
 
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