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Personal Injury

There has long been a culture of claiming compensation in the United States of America, and that culture is showing zero signs of easing up. Actually, recent statistics show that the polar opposite is in fact taking place with more and more personal injury claims being made. Whether this is fantastic news, though, completely depends on where you are standing and in which direction you are looking. But we aren’t just talking about the point of view of victim versus insurance company, or even the person being sued, because there are so many other considerations to take into account, just visit Robins Cloud for more information.

Anyway, the very term ‘compensation culture’ implies that there is a huge number of claims for compensation which aren’t necessarily justified, and are in fact ambitious and fraudulent attempts at making money out of something completely accidental. In the past we have heard phrases like ‘crash for cash’, whereby people are deliberately crashing their cars into innocent driver’s in order to start a compensation claim and receive a hefty payout. This is wrong. But the other big problem with this sort of fraudulence is the effect it has on genuine claims. In short, it is becoming harder and harder to determine what claim is real and what is a bogus attempt at quickly pocketing enough money to put down a deposit on several houses.

What’s more, there are more and more areas of a genuine victim’s life that need to be addressed nowadays. When someone is involved in an accident, there are a vast amount of repercussions that need to be taken into consideration. For example, there are the direct injury costs, the cost of medical care, the loss of earnings (both present and future), psychological stress compensation, the possible increase in insurance premiums, and these are just those that can be measured easily.

On top of this, there are other forms of damage that need to be carefully addressed, things like emotional harm and mental disruption, areas of damage that can’t be measured physically. And as such, these areas are becoming more and more exploited because they are easier to fake. All someone has to do is state they need to see a councillor, and then visit once a week for so many weeks and there is nothing a court of law can do to prove they are bogus. But we will get to this a bit later on.

First, we want to go through some of the landmark cases that has encouraged this compensation culture to spread across the world, not just America.

USA – 1992

This case became world-famous after a woman sued McDonald’s after she bought a cup of coffee from one of their drive-through outlets. What had happened was, after she made the purchase, she tried to remove the lid in which she spilled the entire contents of the coffee onto her lap. She was subjected to extreme scolding and spend eight days in hospital undergoing skin graft operations on her thighs, backside and groin. This was followed by two-years of medical treatments. The grounds on which she won the case was that the coffee served at McDonald’s was far too hot and thus far more likely to cause severe harm that other restaurants. She won an astonishing $2.86 million in compensation.

Australia – 2007

A woman successfully filed a workers’ compensation claim after causing damage to her own face with a lamp during intercourse in a hotel room while away on business. Whilst her employers rejected the claim on the grounds that intercourse was not an ordinary incident of an overnight stay, the court granted her compensation on the grounds that no approval, express or implied response of the woman’s conduct was required and that the company had to deliver the benefits package as they had rented the room.

USA – 2011

A woman was awarded compensation after tripping over her dog while walking to her own garage. The reason this claim was successful was due to her being employed as a decorator by a big home decor company and given she was headed to her garage to collect some sample fabrics, it was deemed her home to be a work environment. Don’t believe us, just look here.

With legal decisions like this setting precedent in courts of law around the world, it is easy to understand why some people wouldn’t try and claim compensation for certain accidents. It also means, governments need to act quickly to establishing new laws that will prevent a queue of similar claims taking place, such as a legal obligation to state that the contents of a coffee cup may be hot.

What does the rise in claims mean for premium prices?

Whether or not it has anything to do with loopholes or wiggle room, there is absolutely no disputing the fact that the number of claims has increased year on year. Even if you take into consideration the growth in population, the number of claims is still rising rapidly. This has seen something else mimic the rise, and that is the consistency in which insurance companies are raising their premiums. It is a logical step. The more people that claim, the more likely they will have to payout, the more they will have to cover their risks. As such, insurance companies have raised premium costs as a way of ensuring they have enough money in reserve in the case of any personal injury claims that may be awarded.

This is where the divide in perspective has been encouraged. Some believe this is a completely logical and necessary precaution that needed to be taken by the insurance companies, while others blame the rise in our compensation culture on bogus and ambitious claims. However, in order to cast a bit of positive light on those feeling hard done by when it comes to their rising premiums, think of it this way; should you ever need to make a personal injury claim, you are much more likely to be offered a hefty out-of-court settlement. Whether you agree with this cor not, it is how the industry seems to operate at the moment.

Time to address the fake and ambitious claims we touched on earlier.

While there is no questioning the rise of legitimate claims, there has also been a sudden spike in fake claims too. These are essentially little more than audacious attempts to con the system out of paying them undeserved money, and the recent rise has seen government organisation and insurance companies work together in a bit to stop this trend gaining any more traction. It is worth noting, though, that whilst terms like ‘crash for cash’ have become common terms, the actual figures churned up through detailed research suggest that the rise in fake claims hasn’t been as substantial as hearsay, gossip and the media would have you believe. This means that most of the compensation paid out to victims is done so legally and in spirit of what they truly deserve.

So why the growth in compensation claims?

As with most things in life, we can only offer well-thought out but speculative theories. However, the most dominant of those theories, which accounts for the most substantial reason for growth is to do with introduction of new laws. We now live in a society that is dictated by rules and regulations, and the room to play is not like it was a couple of decades ago. Everything needs to come with a warning, whether that be a do not eat sticker or a not suitable for under 6 sign. In short, our lives are dictated by health and safety regulations. They have just become stricter and stricter with each passing year. The standards have been increased and tightened. But while this was intended to reduce injury, it has had an adverse effect when it comes to injury claims, and that is because employers now have a legal responsibility to protect their employees right across the board and in almost every aspects of their lives. As we all know, though, accidents happen. It does not matter how many precautions you take or how many stickers you cover the windows with or how much training you give out each month; accidents happen. By it’s very definition, an accident is something that happens unintentionally and unexpectedly, yet by enforcing more and more rules we have provided victims with better grounds to sue on.

It is easier to make a claim against an employer than ever before; it is as simple as that. But if that was enough substance to answer the question of why the rise, well, the majority of all personal injury claims are made up of work related accidents or injuries. Put two and two together and we have a rise in compensation claims and a rise in the costs associated with them.

Another spike that has been noted by industry researches has to do with our roads. They have become busier. There are more cars and more cars means a greater chance of accidents and the more accidents the more claims. The biggest of these are whiplash claims, and that is because whiplash is caused by unexpected jolt involving your neck and back. More payouts for whiplash, the more the premiums go up. It is simple math.

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.

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Are Robots Really Living Among Us?

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It’s been the staple of science fiction for decades. The notion that there will one day be robots living among us. Robots that are able to perfectly mimic human behavior but who are superiors in every way. Their strength supersedes ours, their intelligence makes our brightest minds seem infantile by comparison and they walk among us with their own agenda. Heck, in many iterations they’ve looked at our long and disastrous track record on this planet and decided that the world’s really much better off without us. But while they may permeate our popular culture, from The Terminator to Blade Runner to Avengers: Age of Ultron, real life robots have been too primitive to warrant the philosophical and moral quandaries that the world of fiction has written for them… Until now.

Meet Sophia

As of October this year, the world has just one robot who has been granted citizenship rights and that is the robot Sophia who was recently granted citizenship of Saudi Arabia. She is the first robot in the world to have achieved this status… But will she be the last? Sophia, while she represents a landmark in robotics and artificial intelligence, she is not the kind of autonomous artificial organism one might expect having watched Ex Machina. That said, she has demonstrated that she has an understanding of human social behaviours such as gestures and facial expressions and their meaning. Her open-source, cloud based AI is capable of learning and she has already demonstrated a sense of humor, an understanding of human speech patterns and the ability to be upset or offended. Her AI has been built around our most valuable and virtuous characteristics like compassion and kindness. She, like Ex Machina’s Ava (played by Alicia Vikander) has been modelled to be aesthetically beautiful and approachable and it’s telling that her appearance was crafted by former Disney Imagineer David Hanson. There’s clearly an effort at work to upend the uncanny valley with Sophia’s presence which raises some interesting questions about humanity’s prospective relationship with robots.

Robots and Transhumanism

Robots raise some interesting questions in the realm of transhumanism (the science and philosophy of using science to refine and redefine the parameters of what it is to be human). Transhumanism is unclear to most people with many misconceptions, but it has some clear views on the roles of robots in human evolution. Aside from the use of robotics for prosthesis and human enhancement, robotics may help humanity to advance itself by doing a lot of the “heavy lifting” in industry, agriculture and the various other ways in which humanity has traditionally sustained itself.

Our relationship with robots

While time will tell when it comes to specifics, there can be no denying that robots will be instrumental to human survival in an increasingly post-scarcity economy. Indeed, the rise of automation in a wealth of industries is hardly the stuff of science fiction. Sophia herself represents a specific example of Saudi Arabia’s attempt to move towards a post-oil economy as the nation (and the world) grows increasingly cognizant of the urgency with which our natural resources are depleting. There are many ways in which robots could change the world’s economies, making the prospect of Universal Basic Income more appealing to even the most fervent capitalists. As robots become more sophisticated and autonomous will we one day see a world like that of Wall E where robots do all our work for us leaving us with nothing to do but consume?

Only time will tell.

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What’s Involved in the Aftermath of a Crime Scene?

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We have almost all seen TV shows like CSI where the scene of a crime is examined to reveal clues as to who the perpetrator was, and while this is certainly a very interesting aspect of investigative work, it doesn’t really show us the whole story when it comes to what happens at a crime scene.

Crime Scene Clean-Up

When a crime that involves bodily damage has been committed, for instance an assault or murder, it can leave behind hazardous materials like blood and other bodily fluids which need to be appropriately cleaned up. This is also the case when someone has committed suicide, or when someone has died of natural causes at home in an unsupervised situation.

In these cases, the requirement to clean up after the event is handled in a similar way to when foul play is suspected, however, as the cleaning process does not begin until after the coroner or police ‘release’ the crime scene, meaning they have completed their own processes in terms of gathering and taking evidence.

Why Is This a Specialist Cleaning Job?

One might think that cleaning up things like blood after a crime would be no different to cleaning up bodily fluids in other situations, and be something that a non-specialist cleaner or the owner of the location could do. However, it is protocol to assume that crime scene biological waste may be infectious, and needs to be cleaned up and disposed of as a biohazard. There are companies who specialize in doing this, and depending on the state, they may need to be licensed by the Department of Health or be registered to transport hazardous waste with the Department of Transport.

The Cost of Crime Scene Clean-Up

Cleaning a crime scene and disposing of waste is a job done by private companies rather than the police, and while these companies do sometimes work in collaboration with government agencies (for instance when engaged to clean up materials at scenes of death where a potential Ebola outbreak was a concern). Professional crime scene cleaners are not government employees. This means that if you are the owner of a premises where crime scene clean-up is required, this is a service you need to pay for. Crime scene cleanup pricing does take into account the specialist nature of the job and the unpleasant scenes the workers may have to face, but is also designed to be as affordable as possible and may also be covered by insurance depending on the situation.

The All Clear

Crime scene clean up professionals are fast and efficient, and so if you ever find yourself in the situation of needing to use them, you shouldn’t need to stay off site for too long. However, it is vital that you and any other people outside of the cleaning team are kept away from the location until cleaning is officially completed and you have the all clear.

Crime scene clean up may not feature as often in TV dramas or movies as the evidence gathering phase of the aftermath of a crime, but it is still a very important part of the work!

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If Milennials Can’t Afford To Buy Homes, How Will The Next Generation Cope?

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home house

Fewer young people are buying real estate than ever before – and it’s no mystery as to why. The average home in 1997 cost 3.6 times the average salary. Last year, a study found that the average home is now worth 7.6 times the average salary. The property boom has long since slowed down, but rather than plateauing as many expected, property prices seem to still be steadily increasing. If young people are struggling to get a foothold on the property ladder now, how will the next generation stand a chance?

Here are some solutions that are already being discussed now. Are they enough?

Those lucky will be able to inherit

Older generations are still buying property at a steady rate and fewer are downsizing. These properties then end up being inherited by the next generation who can choose to live in them (some may be mortgage-free) or sell them and buy their own property.

Of course, this doesn’t work in the long-term as it could mean owning a property becomes a privilege for the wealthy only. Inheritance tax could lead to each generation having to downsize. Besides who will be buying all the property for the remainder of people to rent?

Property investors will have to evolve

Fewer people will be able to become landlords as owning multiple properties becomes harder to do. Only rich investors and large property rental companies will be able to cope. Already, rental companies are struggling to buy housing for tenants. Some are finding creative solutions – the likes of California company Invitation Homes have found that by merging with another rental company they can share and lower running costs. This could result in a future of rental corporations the size of supermarket chains battling each other. Will this save the property market? Would a population of renters be a good thing?

Cheaper homes will have to be built

In many places, it’s a shortage of property that’s leading to such high prices. Without enough competition, property sellers can get away with charging more than the value of their home. Governments around the world are trying to build more housing, although in most cases it’s not enough or not the right kind of housing. People have to want to live in these homes after all – there have been too many cases of luxury apartments or cheap housing sitting empty because it was built in an inappropriate neighbourhood. Property planning companies like Ethical Property are behind this. Will less ethical property planners see the light, or will they continue to build properties for short-term gain?

Will there be a property price crash?

A property price crash could be around the corner, which could make properties cheap enough again for average people to get into property. However, this might not be a positive outcome for everyone. As the Dublin property crash showed, few young people were actually able to buy properties afterwards. Banks and mortgage lenders were destroyed by the crash and less willing to give out loans, whilst many property owners clung onto their properties – why sell if you’re then only able to buy a smaller home?

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