The best way to reduce the cost of the insurance and compensation bill is not to assault personal injury law firms and make it harder for people to claim compensation – it is to take effective action to prevent accidents.
The government has not been secretive about its intention to make it harder for people to claim compensation – from changes to whiplash injury claims, to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act and its ban on referral fees, the Coalition has been keen to be seen to be ‘tough on compensation culture’, with the backing of a compliant media.
Legislative changes such as these have made it harder for genuinely injured people to seek justice and recover the compensation they are entitled to, and have made it more important than ever for people to seek the help of personal injury solicitors if they wish to make a claim. The government seems to be favouring the profit margins of the insurance industry over the rights of injured people.
Conversely, while standards of health and safety in the UK have been improving for many years, and with the number of work-related deaths and injuries falling for years (aside from those caused by exposure to asbestos, as these health problems can take many decades to develop), the government seems keen on scaling back on workplace safety regulations, with the media clucking its approval again under the guise of ‘elf and safety gone mad’. The Health and Safety Executive’s funding dropped by 34% between 2010 and 2014, and the number of proactive inspections the organisation performs has fallen by a third, from 33,000 at the start of the Coalition government to just 22,000 at present.
Health and safety laws were also submitted to the Red Tape Challenge, with unions describing this as a “sham”, and with the description of health and safety laws as ‘unnecessary red tape’ called “completely wrong”.
Surely if the government wanted to reduce the cost of compensation and insurance, it would be strengthening health and safety regulations, rather than weakening them? And any efforts to reduce the cost of insurance and compensation should not merely assault the personal injury law sector – in light of the Competition Commission’s shocking findings into the motor insurance market, surely the insurance sector should also have the finger pointed at it? But the government seems to be considerably more interested in protecting the insurance sector and helping them meet their goals than in ensuring that people can claim compensation when they deserve to, or even in ensuring that the UK’s health and safety standards do not worsen.
It is patently obvious that if a business wished to reduce the cost of its insurance bill, it would ramp up its health and safety measures. The government’s strategy of attacking personal injury law firms is myopic, especially when it coincides with a reduction in the amount of money the government invests in workplace safety.