Internet Newsletter for Lawyers
September/October 2003, by Delia Venables

Personal Injury Resources on the Web
by Rebecca Lambert

The last few months have seen many challenges presented to those working in the PI field whether this be through the litigation surrounding CFAs, the stricter JSB guidelines, the litigation surrounding the TAG cases or the imminent introduction of fixed fees. So many changes have happened that it can often be difficult to keep ahead of what is going on. Daily reading of your update from a subscription service can sometimes seem like more of a hindrance than a help.

At some point, most of us turn to the internet to find a quick answer or to clarify something. I hear that some people still think it's a jungle out there and the only thing that can be done quickly and without too much stress is to book plane tickets or check the cricket scores. Help, then, may be at hand in my attempt to provide a short list of some of the various websites that are out there and which may provide some assistance. I shall begin by looking at those that cost nothing and then move onto the subscription services that have a heavy PI content.

First Step: the Freebies

Here are several websites which can be of use to those in the PI field and which will not cost anything more than the time you are on the internet. In alphabetical order:

Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. APIL was set up to improve the service provided to victims of accident and clinical negligence and this site should be the first stop for anyone who wants to keep abreast of developments. Major issues, like costs, are covered in their many press releases. Given that they manage to distil and reduce pages of judgments and arguments into a two page press release that you can actually read and understand, the site is definitely worth a look. It also keeps all of the draft proposals such as the pre-action protocol for Disease and Illness claims. There is a members only area with even more useful information like the ABI Search list and a searchable database of APIL members and experts. The discussion forums are also helpful and in relation to the dreaded costs world there is a very useful Procedure, Damages, Costs and Funding group. Members can ask questions of others and it is helpful to read the various replies to identify different approaches.

Association of Child Abuse Lawyers. The site is largely free with full details of recent news, relevant legal material, experts and links to other sites. It provides information for those affected by child abuse and the links provided to other sites would be as helpful to victims as to practitioners.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority. The website provides online guides to the scheme and the application forms which can be downloaded. It links to CICA's Appeals Panel which has details of the appeals procedure, relevant forms and hearing date information.

Expert Search. There are plenty of sites that allow you to search for an expert in various fields but I find this one is good at finding that particularly elusive expert and of course it's free. It has over 4,500 profiles of experts so I would hope that it would be rare not to find what you are looking for.

UK Register of Expert Witnesses. On the other hand this one has the advantage of all experts being recommended by previous Instructing Solicitors. The unfortunate thing is that you have to pay for this added security, although only just under £10 a month.

Forum of Insurance Lawyers. It is only fair to mention the antithesis to APIL. FOIL aims to provide a forum for the exchange of information between insurers and those acting on their behalf. As with APIL there is a members only section which has articles and comments on similar areas to APIL but from quite a different perspective.

GP Info. An invaluable site for those times when your client mysteriously only manages to complete their GP's name having forgotten the rest on the authority form you have been waiting weeks for. The site enables you to search for a GP or their practice by town, postcode or name.

Brain Injury Association. This is a very user friendly site, of use to both solicitors and clients. It has information on various types of injuries, solicitors acting in a certain area and a searchable database that may offer some assistance if dealing with one of these claims.

Health & Safety Executive. This has information on the HSE's current campaigns, research that has already been carried out, text of recent Inquiries and plenty of invaluable information on health and safety topics. It is also possible to view details of all prosecution cases taken by the HSE which have resulted in a conviction since April 1999 and similar details of all enforcement notices issued since April 2001, excluding those being appealed or withdrawn.

Motor Accident Solicitors Society. This site mainly offers assistance to prospective new clients on finding a MASS Solicitor in their area. However in a similar vein to APIL it has a members only area that has information on current topical items such as predictive fees.

Medicine Net. There comes a point at which some clever medical expert is going to use a word even the most knowledgeable amongst us does not understand. This site will translate it into something everyone can comprehend.

Motor Industry Research Association. For the more technical motor claim, this site may be helpful. There is information on facilities including a crash laboratory and research that has been done on crash testing and similar areas of expertise.

Pan-European Organisation of Personal Injury Lawyers. PEOPIL was set up to improve communication between European jurisdictions in the field of personal injury law. I think it is interesting to see how other jurisdictions deal with the same problems we encounter. There are exchange groups which make very interesting reading: who would have thought whiplash merited its own exchange group? Although reading it you might just change your mind.

Second step: The Ones to Pay For

Lawtel. My firm, along with most others, subscribes to Lawtel. I find that the daily updates which I get for personal injury and civil procedure are a great way to keep up to date with what is going on. Lawtel Personal Injury is Sweet and Maxwell's focused Personal Injury service and has everything that I would think you would ever need. It has a very good focused search for quantum, the inflation calculations, JSB guidelines, and a wealth of tools to help calculate specials including Inland Revenue Tax information, AA Motoring Costs and Retail Prices Index. It also has the forms for the MIB and CICA. Westlaw also offers some PI material but I think you could find all that you need or want on Lawtel.

Butterworths. We also subscribe to Butterworths PI Online which offers a similar package to Lawtel with information for calculation of both generals and specials, details of experts and case law. The PI Journal also has interesting articles on topical issues. Whether you prefer this site or Lawtel really will depend upon the individual as they seem to offer an equivalent package.

Justcite/Justis. I am new to these but I have to admit that they have won me over with their simplicity and ease of use. Granted in relation to general information for personal injury they don't fare so well but I am informed they will look into, and I suspect develop, areas that are not currently covered. The site offers a comprehensive, fully cross-referenced index to a collection of UK and European legal information. The case searching is so good that I would urge people to have a look to see whether or not you can manage without it. For anyone who has spent hours doing research, this site appears to offer as much help as is possible to make it easier and more efficient.

Casetrack. This site acts as a source of full text judgments on the internet which I should imagine is liked best for its speed. Handed down approved judgments are available within hours, the record apparently is 26 minutes. It also offers a wide coverage from all divisions of the High Court from July 1998 to others such as EAT's, the Privy Council and the VAT Tribunal. How useful this will be for a PI Practitioner is questionable and I would have imagined that people are more likely to opt for Butterworths or Lawtel to search for the cases relevant to them.

Third Step: More Newsletters

If you are not happy with just the one daily or weekly update then there are plenty of people out there who will send you another one to mull over. Most, if not all, chambers now do some type of newsletter so I have just included two which I think are particularly good.

Hardwicke Civil. Home of the informative Espresso news, a great update of the more important recent cases and articles on all areas that effect PI practitioners. The quarterly newsletter can be downloaded as a PDF or if you really need to feel the paper between your fingers join their mailing list.

9 Gough Square. This set puts together an instructive newsletter, The News at Nine, that manages to keep people's attention with a healthy dose of wit where appropriate. At the moment the outlines are only available on their site however I am advised that it may be that the full articles will appear soon. In the meantime you could of course join their mailing list.

I have tried to look at some of the sites that I find to be most useful in the course of a normal day. Undoubtedly I have missed some out that others will think are more useful than those I have suggested. I have of course also missed out the really obvious ones like the Court Service, HMSO, the Lord Chancellors Department. I have also managed to write a whole article without mentioning the trusted Kemp and Kemp and Current Legal Information which I assume all firms still subscribe to.

Rebecca Lambert is Senior Paralegal at DMH, a modern law firm providing a range of legal, planning and business services to organisations and individuals. There are over 270 staff at offices in Brighton, Crawley, London and Worthing and over 40 in the personal injury department with teams specialising in road traffic accidents, accidents at work, industrial diseases, holiday claims and serious head injury cases. Email rebecca.lambert@dmh.co.uk.

Back to Contents.