Compensation Culture

Personal Injury and the Compensation Culture
Over the last two decades the Personal Injury market has undergone many fundamental changes and inherent developments; the Woolf Reforms, the removal of Legal Aid and the introduction of Conditional Fee Arrangements, to name a few. With such progressions come inevitable developments, perhaps most fundamentally being the way in which law firms carry out their business, namely, through Claims Management Companies (CMC’s).
David Fischer, in his article “The future of personal injury: an insurers perspective”, 2008, notes that personal injury claims are based around advertisements, and that for the last decade this has been the case. The enormous volume of advertisements promoting “no win, no fee” gives the impression that CMC’s are responsible for “compensation culture”.
The suspicion is that without CMC’s, or with lesser advertising, the number of people seeking compensation would decrease and the “compensation culture” would not exist. It is therefore understandable why Lord Young commented that CMC’s “…encourage individuals to believe that they can easily claim compensation for the most minor of incidents and even be financially rewarded once a claim is accepted.” Whilst there is a valid basis for stating that an element of common-sense needs to be re-introduced (surely emphasised by the fact that children are no longer allowed to play conkers in the school playground and one swimming pool declaring a pair of goggles unsafe), not enough onus is placed on the simple truth that, as he himself states in that very sentence, an individual’s enquiry must first be accepted before he can claim for compensation. In order to bring a successful claim there must be a solid basis in law; it is the facts which determine whether a simple enquiry can turn into an accepted case. An increase in the number of adverts and, consequently, enquiries cannot directly translate to an increase in viable claims for this very reason.
Lee McIlwaine in his 2004 article, “tort reform and the compensation culture”, deemed the existence of the “compensation culture” a myth since there was no evidence to prove that the frequency of personal injury claims was Cap On Personal Injury Claims increasing. Fast forward 6 years, and an abundance of CMC’s later, there is still no concrete evidence to suggest that there has been such a remarkable increase in the number of claims to warrants such dramatic headlines.
I do agree that it is a “music hall joke” that toothpicks are now banned from restaurants, however, the untenable risk would surely be allowing workers to be subject to a greater risk of injury in the work place as a result of the Government’s simplistic desire to eradicate what is, in reality, a myth.
Natasa Suvakov
18/08/10 Car Accident Legal Advice Philippines

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