Media reports of “ambulance chasing” personal injury solicitors have been in much evidence in the last year or two and this has tended to colour the image in the public mind both of the mentality of personal injury solicitors themselves, but also claimants who make a claim for compensation in the event they have been injured in an accident.
Most of the heat in the debate has centred on road traffic accident claims and has been linked to an increase in vehicle insurance. Insurance companies have been some of the most vocal f the voices that have suggested that both solicitors and claimants have been unnecessarily greedy. The Association of British Insurers has been one organisation which has frequently made the connection between an apparent rise in personal injury claims and the cost of insurance.
Now a new survey, conducted by the independent analysis group Ipsos Mori has been completed into the actions of accident claimants and has revealed a slightly different story.
The survey interviewed 900 people who were in the process of putting in a claim or had recently done so and asked them what had motivated them to do so. The result revealed that 65% of the interviewees said that they had been contacted by an insurance company directly about the possibility of recovering damages.
The figures, if a true indication of the wider picture, are in direct contradiction to the public image propagated by the insurance industry. The myth of “ambulance chasing” solicitors is an easy one to make but has widespread ramifications not only for the general reputation of personal injury solicitors but for anybody who is genuinely injured and was thinking of using a solicitor to make a claim.
The reports are particularly damaging for potential claimants as it means that they have to make a choice when injured. They may decide to initiate a claim for injuries they have received through no fault of their own and made to feel guilty about what they are doing or not making. Others who are more sensitive to their own self image may make no claim at all and lose out on a compensation payment which could help them to pay for all those expenses which they are liable for as are result of an accident which they never asked for.
Another angle could be missed in the debate about the interests of the insurance industry. It is fairly obvious to most observers that insurance companies are never that keen to pay out insurance claims and will do what they can to keep the number of claims as low as possible. At the same time they benefit the most when insurance policy costs go up. Personal injury claims do benefit the very people they are intended for – those who are injured as a result of an accident they are not to blame for. The payment helps them get back on their feet and working again. The amount of income lost through time away from gainful employment in lost taxes, flow on revenue into the wider economy in itself justifies a rightful compensation claim.