The phrase ‘personal injury claim’ gets a raw deal in the press. ‘Compensation’ too, is a word that is more often than not used in a less than complimentary fashion. ‘Compensation culture’ has become a catch phrase of insurance companies and even in government circles.
Other phrases that are bandied about are ‘ambulance chasers’, ‘fraudulent claims’, ‘cash in on compensation’ and ‘whiplash capital of the world’ (referring to the UK). The list is seemingly endless. Why, the Daily Mirror even managed to use three of these phrases in one headline, which is some going!
Road traffic accident compensation claims bear the brunt of most of this ire. This is simply because the word ‘whiplash’ carries with it connotations of people ‘trying it on’ just to ‘get a few quid.’ Notice how many newspaper headlines even refer to people ‘winning compensation,’ making it sound like pursuing a successful personal injury claim is akin to buying a ticket and winning a prize, in the National Lottery.
In our own area of South Wales, a pensioner who was left ‘in a minimally conscious state’ was referred to in a local news article as having won a ‘£1.26 million compensation pay-out.’ This ‘win’, included compensation, or as lawyers call it, damages, to enable the victim’s children to bring him home from a rehabilitation unit. The compensation included the cost of having a team of carers to look after him, to allow this to happen so that at least he could be around his loved ones. It is very doubtful that this gentleman’s family felt like they had won the lottery!
The Insurance Lobby
The insurance company lobby has worked very hard over the past eight years at trying to persuade the government to bring in legislation that will reduce peoples right to get access to justice. Their efforts have been rewarded with various acts of parliament which have made it harder for ordinary people to pursue claims for compensation through solicitors.
The insurance companies have, since 2010, been saying that if they get their way and the government does make it harder for a personal injury claim to be made, then the reward for motorists, in particular, will be that they will see their insurance premiums reduced by £X amount. Despite the fact that over the past 8 years, they have already succeeded in pushing the government to make it harder for ordinary people to bring compensation claims, and that the cost to insurance companies of claims have been reducing every year since 2010, there have been no noticeable reductions in premiums.
Have you noticed the cost of your motor insurance premium falling each year since 2010? Do you have any confidence, given this evidence, that they are likely to reduce your insurance premiums when these further new measures come in, in 2020? Could it be that the insurers real motive is just simply to make greater profits?
The ‘Reforms’ to Personal Injury Claims
The latest set of ‘reforms,’ as these pieces of legislation are usually referred to by the government and insurance companies, have just seen the second reading of a bill go through parliament, whereby as of April 2020 there will be significantly reduced amounts of compensation awarded to those suffering genuine whiplash injuries. In addition, the small claims limit for personal injuries sustained in road traffic accidents will rise from £1000 to £5000 and for other non-motoring personal injury claims, the limit will rise to £2000.
What the ‘reforms’ will mean for the victims of non-fault accidents
These increases to the small claims limit are significant.
For road traffic accident claims, it means that if your claim is valued at less than £5000, even if you succeed in your claim, you will not recover any legal costs incurred in making the successful claim. At the moment some costs are recoverable. The new legislation is designed to try and persuade you to pursue a compensation claim yourself, without any legal assistance, perhaps with the added consequence that many people will find it too complicated and give up trying.
Road traffic accident compensation claims will include claims for injuries suffered by what are known as Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs) – pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists, despite the fact that the injuries suffered by VRUs rarely include the much-maligned whiplash injury claim.
The £5000 small claims limit will catch what we consider are some fairly nasty injuries – e.g. a fractured finger or thumb causing pain and discomfort for up to 6 months or any form of whiplash injury where the effects of the injury cause you pain and discomfort for up to 24 months. If anyone has suffered a whiplash injury where the effects last for even 6 months, they will know how disabling these types of injury really are.
At Mooneerams we will be putting together plans, once the new proposals have been finalised, to ensure that we will still be able to help those who are the victims of Road Traffic Accidents and who wish to make a road traffic accident compensation claims, so that they do not go uncompensated or have to try and work their way through the government’s new online system for making the claims themselves, without any legal assistance. That is for the future.
Am I Justified in Making a Claim for Personal Injury?
Before we answer that question, we’ll make a few points clear.
- We are totally against fraudulent claims. They increase the hurdles to be overcome for the vast majority (and it is a vast majority, even based on the insurance companies own figures) of genuinely injured victims of all types of accident claims, including road traffic accident claims, accident at work claims and public liability claims. At Mooneerams, we employ robust anti-fraud measures and do not wish to pursue claims on behalf of fraudsters. Strangely enough, though, fraudulent claims are not something that we have, in our 16 years of being in existence, had any problems with, certainly of any note.
- We do not pay Claims Management Companies for work.
- We do not cold call people to see if they want to pursue a personal injury claim. Neither do we accept work from any company that operates in this manner.
- The overwhelming majority of our clients come to us because they have been recommended to us, have used us before or have seen the excellent reviews from satisfied clients, that have been posted on our Facebook page or on sites such as solicitor.info
So yes, if you have suffered an injury in an accident that wasn’t your fault, then without any hesitation you should make a personal injury claim for the pain and suffering that your injury has caused you and for any other losses that you have suffered as a direct result of being involved, and injured, in that accident.
The Reasons You Should Make a Claim for Personal Injury
It may only be when you have been unfortunate enough to be injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, that you realise how debilitating, not to mention painful, the experience can be. Add to that the other effects on your life, such as not being able to work, not being able to drive, not being able to play sport or pursue other pastimes or not getting enough sleep because your injuries are preventing you from doing so.
We are not here only talking about the most serious injuries. All of these consequences can be as a result of suffering a whiplash injury in a road traffic accident, from injuring your back in an accident at work, or from fracturing a wrist when falling over a defect on a badly maintained pavement.
The reason we all pay insurance
Events such as those outlined in the previous paragraph, are entirely the reason that we and others pay our insurance premiums. Insurance is a backstop. It is there to cover for the eventuality of accidents happening and people suffering injury and loss as a result. Those who say otherwise, are people who have never been involved in an accident and suffered a painful injury with all the associated problems that it also brings to the victim.
When minor injuries turn out not to be all that they first seem
An injury that at the outset appears to be relatively minor, can sometimes turn out to be something more serious or certainly have longer-lasting consequences than could have been envisaged immediately after the accident happened.
Sometimes, it is only as a result of a medical expert examining you as part of the claims process, that a complication is noticed in relation to your injuries, meaning that the condition you are suffering from is more serious than first envisaged. This may also mean that it will take longer for you to recover from the injury than first thought, with all the accompanying inconvenience, not to mention extra financial loss, that goes with that too.
Missing the time limits for bringing a claim can be painful
You have three years from the date of accident in which to bring a personal injury claim. Over the years, we have been contacted on numerous occasions by people who didn’t bother to make a claim following an accident. They either didn’t realise at the time that they could or were perhaps one of those who thought it was somehow wrong to make a claim.
Perhaps the original injury didn’t seem all that serious, only for their condition to turn out to be more complicated and to have caused them more problems than they could ever have imagined. Then after three years of gradually realising that they really ought to have done something about it, they decide to contact a solicitor, only to be advised that the time limit for bringing a claim has expired. Don’t let that happen to you.
Is it worth the hassle?
You might think that making a claim is not worth the hassle. Perhaps that view might seem to carry some weight if you had to bring the claim yourself. However, that isn’t the case. By contacting a reputable, experienced and hugely personable firm of solicitors like Mooneerams, the stress and inconvenience of pursuing a claim against the insurers of the person, company or other organisation that was responsible for your accident, is taken away from you. Don’t just take our word for it. This is what our client Chris had to say about his experience of using Mooneerams services;
“Was in an accident and recommended by a friend to contact Mooneerams, who provided a great service. The whole process was seamless, from a caring and patient visit from the solicitor (Al) who talked me through the whole process in simple terms, to the provision of a courtesy car and eventual settlement and compensation. They took care of all of the paperwork, contact, hassle, and stress. I’ve since recommended them to several friends and all have been equally impressed.”
It’s not ‘winnings’, it’s compensation!
The whole idea of claiming personal injury compensation is that it is intended to put you back into the situation you were in immediately prior to the accident. It is not a ‘windfall.’ It is not winning anything. It is all about compensating you for the pain, suffering, and inconvenience that you have gone through as a result of someone else’s negligence. One of the Oxford Dictionary’s definitions of compensation is;
“Something that counterbalances or makes up for an undesirable or unwelcome state of affairs.”
No Win, No Fee agreements
If the potential cost of making a claim is what might be putting you off doing so, then don’t let it be. At Mooneerams we pursue our client’s claims by using a No Win, No Fee agreement which means that if your claim is unsuccessful, you have nothing to pay. We fully explain the concept of No Win, No Fee agreements to our clients before starting the ball rolling with their claim.
At the outset of this article, we spent some time attempting to debunk the myth that making a personal injury claim for injuries sustained in an accident that wasn’t your fault, was somehow wrong. Certainly, there are those who would try to make you believe that it is wrong, perhaps because they have vested interests in doing so. If they were simply arguing that making a personal injury claim for an injury that you hadn’t suffered was wrong, or that trying to exaggerate the extent of a minor injury that you had suffered was wrong, then we would wholeheartedly agree with them.
Taking the approach of suggesting that there is a ‘compensation culture’ and therefore that by implication anyone who genuinely suffers an injury and then tries to get compensation for what they have gone through, is contributing to that ‘culture,’ is wholly wrong. It is demeaning to those who rightly make claims to obtain compensation for injuries they have sustained.
As the Independent put it in one of the more balanced arguments you will find in the Press;
“If you get hit by someone else driving badly, there ought to be more available to you than just a bit of medical help that you have to fight tooth and nail to get.”
To that, we would add, that the same applies to any type of non-fault accident that you are unfortunate enough to be involved in.
If you have suffered personal injury as a result of someone else’s negligence and are considering whether to make a personal injury claim, call us here at Mooneerams for a no obligation chat with one of our friendly specialist personal injury solicitors on 029 2048 3615 or email [email protected]. You will be glad that you did!