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Personal injury (PI) law-yers renewed calls for a new approach to handling major disasters after last month's Potters Bar train crash
"The aftermath of the crash begins to bear all the hallmarks of previous disasters at Paddington, Southall, King's Cross and the sinking of the Marchioness riverboat," said Patrick Allen, the president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil). The group again called for the creation of an Accident and Disaster Investigation Bureau to address the confusion surrounding the numerous investigations and inquiries that follow. Apil says such a body would take control of post-accident inquiries and ensure that safety recommendations were implemented quickly. Allen argued that in previous incidents there has been a profusion of public inquiries, inquests, prosecutions and civil claims for damages. "It all adds up to delay in uncovering the truth, delay in implementing safety improvements, increased anguish for the injured and unacceptable duplication of resources," he said. Meanwhile, lawyers are considering the implications of a UK court ruling that for the first time recognised Gulf War Syndrome. The Pensions Appeal Tribunal last month upheld the appeal of veteran Shaun Rusling against the War Pensions Agency (now Veterans Agency) decision to refuse his pension. Allen is heading a 10-strong team at Hodge Jones & Allen, which represents 600 veterans and coordinates claims for the Legal Services Commission on behalf of over 2,000. He pointed out that the decisions relating to war pensions were likely to be treated differently than any compensation claims, with the burden of proof being on the Ministry of Defence.