The accusation that Britain is a culture of accident compensation claims persists, but in fact the evidence is conflicting.
Whilst the media continues to make anecdotal reports of a compensations claims culture, other studies show that in fact many Britons underestimate how much their injury might be worth and on top of that, just over one third of Britons never claim at all for an accident suffered which was not their fault.
Despite these surprising findings, insurance industry figures show a real increase in the incidence of accident compensation claims for whiplash, in particular and the resulting increase in annual insurance premiums is felt by all motorists. Indeed, the changes to accident compensation claims legislation coming into force in April is in part an attempt by government to curb opportunistic, spurious claims. However, it puts more onus on the claimant and his legal representative to be confident they do have a valid claim and this may be beneficial. As with any law, it will take time to see how the change affects dispensation of the law in practice.
Certainly, the common myth that Britain is an accident compensation claims culture is evident in certain working practices and staff training programmes along the lines of “we do it this way so we won’t’ get sued.” Although those black and yellow A boards advertising “slippery surface” or “wet floor” can be a pain when you are in a hurry or trying to push the grocery trolley round them, but less of a pain than falling and spraining an ankle.
In order to keep the practice of “compensation culture” in perspective, the law takes the general view that an individual is responsible for their own actions. What this means is that a person cannot “engineer” a dangerous situation in which he is hurt and then claim compensation for it. That is not going to stand up in court. As with any claim, an individual needs to check the eligibility of their claim, in particular with regard to fault, since that is one of the key tests.