Are government moves making it harder to claim compensation?
6th January 2014
Injured people are still struggling to access the justice they deserve. Every year, millions of people suffer serious injuries in accidents they have nothing to do with, and although recent years and decades have seen huge strides in these people’s ability to recover the compensation they are entitled to, drives to reduce costs and cut the cost of insurance have seen some of this progress start to fall apart.
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LAPSO), which became law in April 2013, was one of the most controversial pieces of legislation relating to personal injury claims to have come into effect in recent years. The Coalition government wished to put an end to the country’s so-called ‘compensation culture’ in the wake of an 18% increase in the number of personal injury compensation claims, and elected to do so by hampering the ability of the general public to access or afford representation.
When complaining about the rise in the number of compensation claims, the media acts like claiming compensation is something shameful, sinister and greedy, linking genuinely-injured people who have a right to be recompensed for their damages to fraudsters and scammers.
After a UK law review, the Coalition agreed to cut the provision of legal aid to people who had been injured due to clinical negligence and who wish to make a medical negligence claim, as well as enforcing restrictions to no win no fee compensation claims.
These have caused injured people to lose out on part of their compensation, and many people need the full value of their compensation claim if they are ever to return to health and get their life back to the standards it was before they sustained the injury.
Until LAPSO was enacted, legal aid became significantly more means-tested – everyone used to be entitled to legal aid when they needed it, but this is no longer the case. This has seen people unable to afford legal representation – injured people could see their finances plummet after their accident as they miss wages and deal with medical and other expenses, and could still find they are unable to receive legal aid.
Other Coalition moves that have made it harder for people to claim personal injury compensation include the introduction of fixed fees for certain lower-value claims, as well as cost budgeting and proportionality rules for some higher-value claims. This has seen some higher-value compensation claims – which had merit, and involved people who had suffered serious injuries and disabilities – become untenable simply because they are too expensive to run and too complicated.
At Clearwater Solicitors, we offer a range of various funding options for personal injury claims, as we strive to ensure everyone can access our legal services and benefit from our skilled representation, regardless of the complexity of their case.