By Sean Gordon, Senior Solicitor, Neil Hudgell Solicitors
The term ‘compensation culture’ seems to have been bandied about somewhat excessively of late, with insurance companies blaming disingenuous claimants for a surge in premiums and rising litigation costs.
Yet it appears that such statements may, in fact, be unfounded. A recent poll conducted by YouGov has discovered that the proportion of personal injury victims willing to claim compensation following an accident has actually decreased, from 29% in 2013, to just one quarter.
Unveiled almost exactly one year on from the introduction of the Jackson reforms, the results of the survey allude to the impact the new legislation has already begun to have on the personal injury landscape.
Of the 2,212 people surveyed, 35% felt that their ailment was not severe enough to warrant making a claim, 22% stated they did not believe in claiming compensation and 9% did not think their case was strong enough to win.
The law in England and Wales is primarily aimed at allocating the loss which arises from an accident in which a person suffers personal injury. Centuries of case law have confirmed that it is fairer to allocate that loss to the person who actually caused it, rather than an innocent victim.
The statistics highlighted by the poll stress the importance of providing personal injury victims with easy access to comprehensive legal advice and encouraging genuine claimants to seek a settlement appropriate for the injuries sustained, in order to ensure that fairness is achieved.
The real concern has to be that the recent reforms are deterring genuine victims from seeking the kind of redress which makes our legal system the envy of the world.
It only remains to be seen whether our insurance premiums start to plummet, as we have been promised they will, or whether insurance companies will seek to justify future increases on other largely unfounded grounds.