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Winners and losers in personal injury claim changes

May 18, 2012

Access to free legal assistance has been around for decades in our country as a right for all citizens regardless of wealth status. Anyone who has been injured by a third party has been able to gain just compensation by employing a solicitor such as one of ours at Lamb & Co to negotiate on his or her behalf through the “no win no fee” arrangement. This has meant that wealth has not been necessary but only a straightforward case for compensation has been required. Without this, those who do not receive a high income would have had a lost opportunity.

Unjust changes are rearing their ugly heads, as the rights of all our citizens to seek justice are fast disappearing, leaving only the wealthy the opportunity to see justice done for themselves.

The recent passing of the Legal Aid and Prison Reform Bill (LAPSO) has been, without a doubt, partly driven by the grubby hands of insurance companies who have unjustifiably claimed that they are paying out fraudulent compensation payments to victims of such injuries as whiplash.

Just think about this carefully from our point of view, the insurance payers. How many times have we had to make a claim for car damage, theft or fire and the insurer has been standing at our door with cheque book in hand with a cheerful smile and handed us that cheque without a second thought? For most of us, this is never a reality. No insurance company would ever pay a penny if they thought there was anything suspect about a claim. Their detectives would all be at work to ensure no money ever left their bank accounts. When they pay out for personal injury claims, this is only after they have assured themselves that the case is indisputable.

Although the “no win no fee” arrangement is not disappearing next April when the LAPSO provisions come into effect, any victim of an accident for which somebody else was responsible will have to pay a percentage of the compensation to their Solicitor as part of their legal fees and this money would be deducted out of their compensation payment. This is something that has not had to happen until now. Unless the compensation settlement is particularly high, this will, in all likelihood, lead to far fewer victims, especially those who are not wealthy, bothering to initiate a claim.

This will inevitably lead to insurance companies paying personal injury claims only for the richer sector of our population, while the lower income groups will be marginalised even more in our society.

This will suit the insurance companies down to the ground as in the case of any real claims made by accident victims who decide not to use a personal injury solicitor, they will be able to offer tiny amounts knowing that the claimant will never be able to pay the legal fees to fight for a reasonable amount for their compensation claim. This, in my view is a travesty and totally against the grain of the English Legal System which supposedly allows access to Justice for all its citizens.

We at Lamb & Co believe it is the right of all citizens to gain a compensation payment that fits the injury and we know that the “no win no fee” arrangement has, over the years, been of great benefit to our clients. We will continue to take on cases for those victims of road traffic accidents and workplace accidents that were not the fault of the injured as long as the accident took place within the last three years. We are also offering free home visits at the victim’s convenience.

If you wish to discuss this or any matter with us, please contact the office on 0151 632 2213 or alternatively, visit us at our www.lamblaw.co.uk