The Personal Injury Claimant: Victim or Villain?
18 April 2016 by Lauren Hancock
“Have you had an accident which was not your fault?” We have all seen the adverts and received umpteen calls, from unnamed companies, offering their legal services in connection with an accident which we know nothing about. Publicly, David Cameron has vowed to eradicate trivial personal injury claims and tackle the so called “compensation culture”. It is not difficult to see therefore where the term “ambulance chasers” derives from. Nor is it hard to comprehend the negative views that many hold of the world of personal injury claims.
The stance fostered by the mainstream media seems to forget one crucial element; the blameless victim. The labourer injured in a car crash, the elderly lady hurt in a fall or the nurse injured at work, none of whom should be considered at fault in bringing a claim. There are of course, some who take advantage of the system by exaggerating or even faking injuries, but they are few and far between and often weeded out at an early stage, so it is not fair to tarnish all with the same brush.
Those involved in road traffic accident claims tend to receive the largest public criticism. Somewhere along the way we seem to have forgotten about the often negligent or careless driver responsible for the accident, instead choosing to defame the innocent party. Between 2005 and 2008, 68% of all crashes were contributed to by driver error or reaction and 25% by behaviour or inexperience. Why then, is the victim often portrayed as the villain?
There should be no stigma attached to bringing a claim for compensation when a genuine injury has been suffered. Even in instances where the injuries sustained are not considered ‘serious’, the costs implications can be profound – for example, loss of income, treatment fees or childcare costs. An award for compensation is intended to put a Claimant in the position which they would have been in had the accident not occurred, in addition to offering a sum for the pain and suffering caused by the accident. It is not intended to punish the negligent party.
Contrary to popular belief, making a claim is not a “get rich quick” scheme. Whilst in some cases settlement can be achieved in a period of months in others, obtaining an award of compensation often takes years of protracted and onerous litigation, itself a further imposition on the innocent victim, something the pro insurance press omits to mention.
Those who have suffered injury as a result of an accident on the road, at work or in a public place, which was not their fault, should be compensated without criticism. Making a personal injury claim is not a money making ploy and should not be regarded as such. For the Government to propose, as it has, to do away with compensation claims for minor whiplash injuries is a gross denial of basic justice at a time when innocent victims most need financial support.
We at Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP recognise the physical, psychological and financial repercussions that sustaining a personal injury may cause. If you have suffered an injury as a result of an accident in the past 3 years that was not your fault and wish to consider making a claim, please contact Christopher Yemm on 01206 835251 or at [email protected].
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