Changes to law on compensation claims

British Law on compensation claims for personal injury is changing and it is a good idea to be aware of the new rules

Compensation for victims of violent crime

It has long been the practice in the UK for innocent victims injured in a crime and at no fault of their own, to be compensated by government under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme. The definition by which payment is made under this scheme has been changed. Only victims with the most serious injuries will receive compensation. In effect this means that all claimants will find it harder to prove their case, since the definition of a phrase like “serious injury” is fraught with value judgements.

From a range of 25 bands, awards for the lowest five levels of categorisation of injuries for which to assess the compensation claims will be scrapped. This is more serious than it sounds since it includes injures such as fractured and sprained limbs and permanent burns. These injuries are serious enough to keep a person from work for several weeks and could cause significant hardship. Also, lack of compensation to pay for corrective surgery to burns victims if the NHS can’t oblige seems very harsh.

Amongst those groups concerned are shop workers and retailers, especially those who work anti-social hours who may be at risk from situations of armed robbery or other violent assaults.

No win no fee* compensation claims

The law on no win no fee* compensation claims also changes in April this year. The percentage amounts of the “success fee” which the winning solicitor can charge the losing side is being considerably reduced. There are concerns that this will make some compensation claims uneconomic to pursue and claimants with these types of claims could miss out from receiving justice.

The government is anxious to reduce the ballooning cost of personal injury damages to insurance companies, yet the no win no fee* system has proven to be successful in discouraging false or spurious claims. There is no evidence that Britain has become a nation of compensation claims seekers or “ambulance chasers”, despite perceptions to the contrary.

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