Did you hear the one about the run away train? Or how about the Government’s plans to crack down on the ‘compensation culture’?
Prime Minister David Cameron’s ‘insurance summit’ recently, did not feature any representatives of consumers or accident victims. The government’s bid to crack down on this so-called compensation culture which was described as being “like a high-speed train with only one class of passenger.”
Accident injury in Shropshire
And it cannot be denied that claims are mushrooming. The most reliable figures come from the Department for Work and Pensions’ compensation recovery unit, which is notified by claims companies of every claim they receive so that it can recover benefits paid and the cost of NHS hospital treatment as a result of personal injury cases.
Over the past five years it has recorded a staggering 52% rise in the number of claims arising out of motor accidents, to 790,999 in 2010/11 (the Department for Transport estimates that there are anywhere between 660,000 and 800,000 casualties on the roads each year).Claims against public authorities have risen by 19% to 94,872, although employers’ liability claims have fallen 17% to 81,470.
Is this an out-of-control compensation culture, driven by accident injury in Shropshire cases and other areas, (which Lord Young’s 2010 report admitted exists in perception only) or are people simply more aware of their legal rights?
Either way, there are various efforts in the pipeline to reduce the legal costs associated with these claims, such as the Jackson reforms in the legal aid, sentencing and punishment of offenders bill, the ban on referral fees in personal injury cases, and funnelling more cases through a more efficient electronic portal which is currently used for low-value motor claims where the claimant has admitted fault.
Though there is no doubt that car accidents can cause neck injuries, and many medical studies point to the existence of whiplash, not everyone agrees about the extent of the problem. The current political mood is that whiplash is too easily claimed, a try-on for a bit of compensation encouraged by relentless TV advertising and unsolicited text messages by ambulance chasers.
It is the opinion of some though, myself included, that firms such Accident Advice Helpline actually help and even improve the overall standard of safety in many industries, including motor vehicles.
The fact that they make it easier for people to claim is also a step in the right direction as far as I am concerned; the more people that exercise their rights then the more likely it is that companies will recognise the need to up their game and improve standards.
If the personal injury claim ‘juggernaut’ really is rolling, I would submit that the long term benefits out weigh any negativity that may exist about the industry.
Date Published: 30th June 2013
Author: David Brown