The insurance industry has been labelled as mean and unfair in its dealings with genuine victims of accidents that were not their fault.
The comment was made recently by the president of APIL (the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers), Karl Tonks, who is a personal injury lawyer himself.
Mr Tonks said that the insurance industry was at the forefront when it came to claiming that both lawyers and accident victims were responsible for increasing insurance premiums, but they should examine their own actions more carefully.
The APIL President said that his own law firm had noticed many instances recently of clients being approached by the defendants’ insurance company and being offered ridiculously low sums in compensation.
This was being done even when accident victims had suffered terrible injuries and honestly deserved much better compensation terms.
In many cases, these people had gone on to use a personal injury solicitor to represent their compensation claim and had subsequently won many times the original offer from the insurance company.
Mr Tonks said that offers like this showed that these particular insurance companies were being hypocritical when it came to passing comment about the honesty of personal injury solicitors and accident victims.
Some of the offers were being made to victims within days of the accident taking place and before the person had had time to seek medical or legal advice about the advisability of initiating a compensation claim.
The incidence of such very low offers appeared to be on the increase, it was reported by Mr Tonks.
The connection with the recently passed LAPSO (Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders) Act was made. The purpose of the new act, which comes into force next April, is in part at least to speed up compensation claims and reduce the cost of the claims process to the wider community. Part of the rationale for the bill was that claims for compensation had not always been genuine and that personal injury solicitors were too motivated by the value of their success fees.
The point was made that insurance companies have to show that they are being fair and honest as well, especially as the vast majority of accident victims genuinely suffer financially through no fault of their own and need to be compensated sufficiently for the extra costs they have to bear.
Mr Tonks mentioned a specific example of a car accident victim who had suffered serious injuries in a crash. She was approached by the insurance company of the driver who was at fault and was offered five hundred pounds as a final settlement. The injured person went on to use a personal injury solicitor and was finally awarded thirty seven thousand pounds after the case was forced to go to trial. The guilty party admitted liability at the trial despite the fact that the trial had been called to question liability for the accident on advice by the insurance company.