It was certainly welcoming to hear MPs raise concerns as to how injured people could be prevented from making genuine compensation claims under proposed changes to personal injury laws.
We have opposed plans to move all claims for pain, suffering, and loss of amenity worth up to £5,000 into the small claims court from the start of consultations of the matter last year.
They are proposed law changes which have been driven by the insurance industry from the start, and have never put the needs of those left injured first.
That has always been wrong in our view, and it finally seems that some influential individuals are recognising it too.
The changes proposed will only serve to prevent the right to damages of genuinely injured people.
The likelihood is they’ll be left having to represent themselves in most cases and having to pay for their own treatment, such as a course physiotherapy, rather than having it paid by insurers of the party who caused the injury.
This could lead to injured people not seeking the help they need. The result will be their injury persisting for longer than necessary, or worsening and placing greater burden on the NHS at the expense of the taxpayer later down the line.
Proposed changes make insurers only winners at present
The only winners – as chairman of the justice select committee Bob Neill appears to be recognising in his comments a fringe meeting on civil justice at the Conservative Party conference – will be the insurance industry.
He warned the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) that it must ‘act with considerable caution’ with regards to preventing disingenuous soft injury claims so as not to prevent genuine claims being made.
He added that the justice select committee would be returning to the matter as the insurance industry ‘has got to do a lot more to make its case”. That is certainly a welcome comment.
It has been our frustration from that start that unproven claims of the insurance industry with regards to impact on premium costs which have brought us to this point in the road.
The Government has claimed the aim is to reduce car insurance premiums by an average of £40 per motorists, yet there has been no suggestion of this being enforced, instead saying premiums are a ‘commercial matter for individual insurers’.
But as pointed out by MP Alberto Costa at the same party conference meeting, whilst there has been a significant decline in soft-tissue injury claims over the past five years, ‘there’s been not a penny of decline in car insurance premiums’.
Hardly reassuring given we are talking about potentially reducing the access to justice and rehabilitation for injured people.
Mr Costa added that the Government must ‘be careful that we don’t take away rights to damages and diminish the duty of care that we all owe to one another” in the hope of what would anyway be a relatively small fall in premiums, if at all’, something we again would also stress in this case.
Legal system should always look to support injured people back towards recovery
As specialists in supporting victims of road traffic accidents at Hudgell Solicitors, we certainly welcome these comments and the call for insurers to do more to support their calls for such drastic changes with regards support for injured people.
In our work at Hudgell Solicitors, we see day to day how important small personal injury claims are to those we support.
Our legal expertise can secure vital rehabilitation care, such as physiotherapy, which should the proposed changes to the system be made, many will simply miss. What cost will there then be to the NHS when these soft tissue injuries worsen in the years to come?
We also know how crucial it is for people to recover lost earnings for periods off work following an accident. It may only be a short period, but that period of recovery, at no financial loss, is so important to many individuals and families.
It is certainly not support which should be lost to help the insurance industry collectively make greater profits and avoid genuine compensation claims.
It is why these proposed reforms must be looked at again – with the focus on the genuinely injured, not any financial motivation.