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Thursday, 9 January 2014

I'm in the money ... a rant!

It seems that I am entitled to claim damages for noise induced hearing loss and could well look forward to getting a cheque for up to £10k! Well that will certainly come in handy after an expensive Christmas and New Year break.

Last night I was sitting down to my tea and watching the end of Pointless when the phone went. These annoying cold calls always seem to come at the same time. But this caller was not trying to sell me a mortgage. She introduced herself as Carly from the Hearing Loss Good News Centre or something like that. She certainly had good news for me. I could be in the money. I had come up on their ‘register’ as someone who had worked in a noisy environment in the past and might be entitled to pursue a legal claim. I was a little surprised as I have never worked in noise in my life. I did see Led Zeppelin in 1971 and had a ringing in my ears for an hour or so, but that’s about it.

I asked her why they thought I was entitled and where they had got my details from. I was told that my name had come up on ‘the register’. Register? I went on to ask the usual questions about cold calling, MOJ Registration, referral fee bans. The response to all of these questions was that my name had come up on the register and they were calling to advise me of my rights. Clearly Carly had reached the limits of her script and I decided to end the call watch the end of Pointless, which seemed appropriate.

So for any of us who do industrial disease work the word is out. No longer do we have to worry about causation, breach of duty, limitation and those other irritations. If a client’s name is on the register then that’s the end of the matter. Even if there has never been any noise exposure. No wonder the government has kept the magic register a secret!

Joking aside, this deserves a serious rant. How often are claimant lawyers described as ambulance chasing money grabbers who are responsible for high insurance premiums and the parlous state of the NHS? We have seen fees slashed access to justice virtually eliminated and the depressing news of closures almost on a weekly basis. Isn’t the real problem with companies like this that seem to ignore all regulation? I was cold called and given incorrect, dishonest, information by a young caller who knew nothing at all about hearing loss.

To add insult to injury I later heard a radio advert promising damages of ‘up to £10k’. I have settled many hearing loss cases with damages far higher than that. Where does that arbitrary figure come from? Will 2014 be the year when lawyers who buy claims from these companies are themselves sued for under-settlement?

The government and regulators would serve the public better by doing more to eliminate this type of behaviour rather than attacking the obvious and easy targets – the lawyers.

Here endeth the first rant of the year!

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