If you have noticed car insurance premiums increasing in recent years, you are not alone. Premiums have continued to rise because of personal injury claims and the ‘claims culture’ according to insurance companies.
This, it is said, is because of the prevalence of whiplash claims, many of which are fraudulent according to insurance assessors. While there is little doubt that fraudulent scams have been increasing with claims for personal injuries such as whiplash being the mechanism of preference, it is still important that those who are injured in a RTA (Road Traffic Accident) have access to justice and to a personal injury claim.
With this in mind, George Osborne announced a new tactic in the fight against fraud in his Autumn Statement last year. The tactic came as a surprise to many, including the Ministry of Justice, as the Chancellor appeared to pull it out of the hat from nowhere. So what was this new tactic?
Mr Osborne announced an increase in the Small Claims Limit for damages for pain and suffering and loss of amenity from £1000 to £5000 for all claims, and furthermore there would be no compensation whatsoever for “minor soft tissue injuries”.
On the surface, one may think this sounds like a good move in the fight against fraudulent claims however, given that the vast majority of all accidents attract damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity below £5000, clearly the losers will be genuine victims while the insurers will make big savings.
If there are any doubts at all that the insurers stand to cash in on the changes, these can be completely quashed by the fact that had these proposals been implemented earlier up to the 95% of the 759,763 RTA victims in 2014 who were awarded compensation would have been unable to claim for their injuries at all. Many legal commentators and lawyers who act for victims of accidents consider this outrageous.
These rules don’t just affect those involved in RTAs either.
Last year, out of the 208,310 claims by those injured at work through public liability or the fault of occupiers, up to 85% would have been forced to bring their claims in the Small Claims Court.
The small claims process is designed for people to bring claims without the help of lawyers. Well, they can, but they cannot, as now, recover the costs of the lawyers from the Defendant. Personal injury claims can be complex and you can be sure that, even though you would not be able to rely on legal help the insurers certainly will and the chances are you will be at a disadvantage in the claim.
The reality of the changes is that those involved in claims of less of than £5000, and that is a substantial percentage of those wanting to make claims, now have grim choice to either face insurance companies head on without a lawyer or have to pay their legal costs in full out of any compensation they are awarded. No prizes for guessing who is likely to win in these disputes. What it boils down to is no representation for injured persons and a blow against justice for all!
Sadly, even for those that decide to pay for a lawyer, who are resolved to sacrifice anywhere between 30 and 40% of their compensation, are still going to struggle to find a suitable personal injury lawyer to help them. Specialist personal injury solicitors are dropping like flies which is opening up the door for the less scrupulous and unqualified chancers to step up and make a killing.
Another consideration that is preventing justice from being delivered is the financial risk to injured persons. This is leading to injured parties not making claims. This leaves the insurance companies to benefit from withholding compensation that they would have been paying out before. For victims of RTA’s with small claims of less than £5000 they are doing well if an insurance company makes an offer that is only a small percentage of what they are really entitled to.
The chancellor had claimed that with the drop in fraudulent pay-outs for things like whiplash or soft tissue claims, that we call all expect a reduction in our motor insurance premiums of between £40 and £50 per annum.
Many argue that no reductions in car insurance premiums have materialised. Have you noticed any difference in yours? To add insult to injury, Osborne has increased Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) by 3.5% which is hardly going to help keep premiums down.
We believe in justice for all and are proud of the fact that we are still going strong. Don’t be denied access to justice if you are involved in an RTA or any other incident where you believe you have a claim for injury.
To find out how we can help you with your personal injury claim, get in touch.