Injured Brits left without lawyers for claims less than £5k
Plans to extend Small Claims limit will force accident victims to fight cases alone.
Compensation for a life-changing road traffic accident will become extremely difficult to acquire if new proposals from the Ministry of Justice are given the green light.
‘No more easy pay days’ said the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, when announcing plans to inflate the Small Claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000.
Stretching the bracket like this would brush an entire catalogue of severe injury cases, including partial loss of a finger, into the Small Claims court – a justice arena where no legal representatives for the claimant can be present.
Although the idea behind the extension is to ward off fraudsters and save the insurance sector some cash (theoretically saving the consumer money too as the insurers should reduce their premiums as a result), Grayling’s plan has come under serious fire from the Association for Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL)…who have a point:
Fraud is acknowledged by the APIL as a serious plague in the justice system but this exterminatory approach could potentially leave genuinely injured Brits with a harrowing choice; fund and fight their own case in the Small Claims court or drop the case altogether.
The latter is believed to be the ‘stated intent of insurance companies and their allies in government’, by Senior Litigator of the APIL and accident claims specialist, John Hagan.
His argument is shared by President of the APIL who confronted the MoJ consultation almost immediately after it was published:
‘[…] it is the duty of insurance companies to look after their shareholders, not injured people. Getting fair and just compensation really will be an uphill battle; many people will be put off from even trying.’
So, it seems genuine whiplash victims will have to pay for the actions of fraudsters if the plans are pushed forward. Also amongst the ‘innocent bystanders’ in the MoJ’s would-be war on fraud, are the people who sustain injuries that are currently considered serious enough to warrant legal representation:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Slight hearing loss and tinnitus
- Fractures of ribs causing serious pain and disability but for a few weeks only
- Collapsed lungs from which a full recovery is made
- Toxic fume inhalation leaving permanent damage but not enough to interfere with lung function
- Food poisoning with complete recovery within a year or two
- Loss of the spleen
- Certain hernias
- Neck or back injuries taking up to two years to recover
- Fractured collar bones
- Wrist fractures lasting up to one year
- Loss of part of a finger
- Fracture of a finger
- Severe dislocation of the thumb
- Displaced nasal fracture requiring surgery
- Fracture of the cheekbones which may require reconstructive surgery and leave a minimal cosmetic effect
- Loss of two front teeth
- Minor facial scars
- Dermatitis lasting for several months
The plans are still in a consultation phase and nothing will be officially confirmed until March 2013. Even if it all goes ahead, accident victims are still entitled to get in touch with their personal injury solicitor and enquire about their case. Until then, that advice still stands – against the legal-savvy insurers, expert advice from the likes of John Hagan of DPP Solicitors is critical to securing the compensation owed to any injured person in the UK.