Karl Tonks, the new national president for the 5,000 strong Association of Personal Injury Lawyers vowed to battle for justice for accident and industrial disease victims.
Tonks, who is 46, and is a partner at Fentons in Manchester, married with three children, is intent upon leading an APIL campaign to set up a fund for individuals who are dying or are sick from being exposed to asbestos in workplaces and have not been able to locate their employer’s insurance company.
Often the illness only takes hold after many years have passed and it is often hard to locate insurance documents.
The fund is to be quite similar to the present system for individuals who have been injured in accidents with drivers who are not insured.
Tonks stated that those people who are dying are entitled to seek compensation to help them survive through their last days, but are often denied this because the insurance companies of their negligent employers are unable to be found.
Tonks is calling this a fund of last resort and an employers’ liability insurance bureau to be set up so that the insurance industry can start paying up what they owe.
He said that not paying up for employers’ negligence is scandalous and an employers’ liability insurance bureau is a necessity so that those who suffer as a result of an employer’s negligence are justly compensated.
He is also very concerned about how long it is taking insurance companies to make payments through the claims process and how it is prolonging the suffering of innocent victims and incurring unnecessary extra costs, which in the end the consumer has to foot the bill for through an increase in premiums.
Tonks also referred to the rights of injured individuals who are facing threats under government changes to the no-win, no-fee arrangement.
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which is expected to come into force in April 2013 has made the decision that success fees in compensation claims for personal injuries will be paid out of the compensation payment and not by the losing party’s insurance company. This will hit the poorer claimants, who will not be able to find the money to cover legal costs and will never see justice done.