George Osborne Attacks Innocent Victims (Again!)
Chancellor George Osborne in his Autumn Statement in November has pledged radical changes to the way in which personal injury claims shall be run going forward.
We at What’s My Claim Worth believe that the pledges made by Mr Osborne will harm many innocent victims’ access to justice. They will also reduce the number of claims brought by innocent victims, which is unfair.
Proposals to Raise the Small Claims Limit to £5000
At the present time, if you wish to bring a claim against another party for negligence and/or breach of statutory duty, the court process tends to be the option of last resort. If you are unable to settle your claim for whatever reason, you would then look to issue court proceedings.
Once you have issued court proceedings a Judge will then decide how your case should best be run.
Under the present system, if your claim for injuries is worth less than £1000 (generally for example a soft tissue injury lasting for less than 2 weeks) your case will normally be allocated to the ‘small claims track’. When you pursue a claim via the small claims track, you normally cannot claim your solicitor’s or advocate’s fees from the responsible party, even if you are successful.
Under the current system, if your claim for injuries is worth more than £1000 (as in most cases) your claim will normally be dealt with at court in the ‘fast track’ . If your case is successful in the Fast Track, the responsible party has to pay most, if not all, of your legal fees.
In most of these cases the court will not order the solicitor’s costs to be paid by the losing party and if a solicitor is instructed, fees will have to be bourne by the innocent victim making the claim. As a result of the position with regard to costs, solicitors have not normally represented clients in these matters.
Increasing the small claim limit for pain and suffering and loss of amenity to £5000 will have the effect of innocent victims not being able to recover legal costs if their claim for the injury is worth less than £5000. This can have only two possible effects:
- To deter innocent victims from making claims at all,
- To reduce the amount of damages that innocent victims will recover, as they will be responsible for paying their solicitor’s costs.
If the claim for pain and suffering and loss of amenity is worth in excess of £5000 then the claim would be referred to what is known as the Fast Track, and the innocent victim would be entitled to seek recovery of their solicitor’s costs from the other side.
The government’s justification for bringing forward these measures is to reduce the number of fraudulent claims and to reduce the cost of motor insurance policies.
In reality, at What’s My Claim Worth we feel that these decisions have been made following unprecedented lobbying by insurers and will seek only to put more cash in insurance shareholders’ pockets, to the detriment of innocent victims.
The Government’s Proposal to Ban Damages for Minor Whiplash Injuries
George Osborne announced: “The government intends to introduce measures to end the right to cash compensation for minor whiplash injuries, and will consult on the details in the New Year.”
‘This will end the cycle in which responsible motorists pay higher premiums to cover false claims by others. It will move over one billion pounds from the cost of providing motor insurance and the government expects the insurance industry to pass an average saving of £40-£50 per motor policy onto consumers.’
The government proposes that victims will still be entitled to claim for what is known as special damages which are out of pocket expenses incurred arising out of an accident, namely damage to their vehicle, loss of earnings or treatment costs.
What’s My Claim Worth argues that the government is attempting to reverse age-old principles of the Law of Tort which establishes liability for negligence for personal injuries arising when a person or persons have breached a duty of care owed to another and that breach of duty has caused an injury.
The Government believes that those people who have been injured as a result of a car accident are less entitled to pursue a claim following injury than someone who has slipped on a defect in a pavement. How can this be fair?
Time will tell tell whether or not the Government will be able to pass these seemingly unfair amendments to the law.
If you have been involved in an accident whereby you have suffered injuries, we advise you to act now and give us a call or use the Claimometer to see if we can assist you before laws change reducing your damages or worse still, your right to claim compensation at all. We can usually tell you immediately whether you have a claim.