Injured people reject governments claims reforms
A survey of over 1,000 claimants by leading personal injury claimant law firm Thompsons shows overwhelming opposition to the government´s reform for the personal injury claims process.
The survey sought views on the proposal to fix the amount of costs a solicitor can be paid. This, the vast majority of respondents felt, would reduce the time their lawyer would spend dealing with their case.
There was a risk that "corners would be cut in order to stick to budget" said one respondent, while another felt they would not have had the amount of emotional support they had received from their lawyer if there had been fixed costs.
The majority of those asked said that the "guilty party" should pay the costs of the injured person. They also said that it was important that people are made fully aware of their right to independent legal advice if they are injured in an accident that is not their fault.
There was a clear majority against the requirement to "beat your own offer" with comments that it would lead to compensation levels being driven down and cases settled for less than they should be.
One survey respondent commented: "The person who has had the accident should not be made to feel the guilty party. Barriers like this will stop people taking legitimate claims and not only will they lose out but the health and safety of others will be compromised."
"It´s a guessing game open to manipulation," said another.
Thompsons Solicitors´ response to the consultation paper warns that many of the MoJ´s proposals will seriously damage access to justice for injured people.
Although Thompsons welcomes the decision not to raise the small claims limit in personal injury cases, the measures put forward to introduce a new process for claims between Â£1000 and Â£2500 is, in Thompsons´ view, a back door way of increasing the small claims limit. Whilst the proposals may work for road traffic cases, Thompsons says they won´t for ELCI claims.
Tom Jones, director of policy at Thompsons said: "The proposals adopt the insurers´ agenda, savaging funding arrangements, encouraging insurers to delay and driving down damages. This is a multi-layered attack on the funding of trade union legal services, which the government has pledged to support as a "foundation stone to a progressive and fair society. There are bold moves we have suggested that the Ministry could make that would punish delay and encourage settlement."
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