The personal injury industry’s latest detractors have come out in force this week, with the Association of British Insurers making a case for cheaper litigation to deal with compensation claims following road accidents.
Nick Starling, the ABI’s Director of General Insurance & Health, told Sky News that he is concerned that motorists are shouldering the burden of legal fees racked up in contesting personal injury cases. He claims that the legal processes are too expensive, with 10% of the value of every claim being absorbed by the legal industry.
But his comments have come under attack, with a spokesman for the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers arguing that a review of the compensation system for road traffic accidents is already underway.
“The new scheme has been designed to make this specific type of claim more efficient.
“It will apply to all straightforward road traffic cases up to a value of £10,000, which will actually account for 75 per cent of all Personal Injury cases, according to the Government,” he said.
“It will be interesting to see how insurance premiums will be affected in a year’s time.”
‘Injury claimants should not bear the burden of others’ negligence’
APIL stressed that their overriding consideration is that drivers injured by negligent motorists should not have to shoulder the burden of others’ carelessness.
Some commentators feel that the legal system is clogged with spurious claims that take too long to settle and therefore drive up costs. Perhaps they are right about the latter point, but the fact is that anyone injured in a car crash that was not their fault is entitled to seek some form of redress for it.
Perhaps the people complaining of ‘spurious’ claims have never experienced what it feels like to be unable to move for days on end thanks to agonising whiplash-related injuries, which keep the sufferer away from their job as well as unable to perform all but the most simple tasks around the house.
Yes, of course some people that have not actually been hurt may try to chance their arm and submit a claim, but they will be sniffed out at an early stage and those who manage to win a false claim can be prosecuted. It is not a widespread problem – rather it seems to be a product of the usual broad-brush approach to dismissing the PI industry.
I do agree that the amount of time taken to settle claims could be cut and that this would improve the service that injury victims receive from their lawyers. There will be many representatives of the industry who will agree that streamlining can only be a good thing, and will welcome reforms suggested by Lord Justice Jackson, who has been tasked with improving the manner in which car crash claims are processed.
Date Published: November 2, 2010
Author: David Brown