The media is often saturated with stories of people receiving huge sums of money for minor or frivolous claims, coupled with those text messages telling us that there is a cheque waiting (as a result of an accident we were involved in nearly three years ago), it is little wonder there is a perception that after an accident a cheque will just be waiting for collection.
This is not the case and nor should it be.
The past two governments are committed to reducing the number of claims arising form Road Traffic accidents taking steps to clamp down on claims for road traffic accidents.
In recent years the government has stepped up measures to clamp down on Claimants making road traffic accident claims. The Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 came into force on 13 April 2015, allowing Defendants to seek dismissal of a claim on the basis of fundamental dishonesty and the court is now required to dismiss the whole case if there are any elements of fundamental dishonesty such as exaggeration of symptoms.
In addition, the amount of costs that a Claimant solicitor is entitled to recover has been reduced, particularly in road traffic accident claims. In the past the cost of bringing a claim was met by the wrongdoer. Now, due to the reduction in costs, part of that cost has to be borne by the victim.
But are these new measures and the media perception of a “compensation culture” making those genuinely injured reluctant to pursue a personal injury claim? What would happen if justice was not easily accessible to those who needed it? Who will stand up for the injured person?
Worryingly, the number of deaths and serious injuries sustained in road traffic accidents is on the rise. The Department for Transport’s latest figures indicate that last year road deaths increased by 4% from the previous year and the number of people seriously injured has risen to 22,807, a 5% increase from 2013.
Being involved in a road traffic accident can have devastating effects on those injured. Often Claimants will be unable to work because of their injuries and will need financial support to help them with rehabilitation. For those suffering life changing injuries they may never work again and are likely to need adaptations to their property and long term care and support.
The fact remains that compensation awarded to a Claimant is strictly based on guidelines and evidence. It is designed to compensate a victim for actual loss, including pain and suffering, loss of earnings and future losses, all of which are carefully assessed and supported by evidence. Future losses can include future loss of earnings, medical treatment, cost of care, and accommodation adaptations.
These damages are not a gift for the injured person: every case is calculated with the intention of putting claimants as far as possible back to the position they were in before being injured.
It is therefore important that anyone who has suffered injuries or lost a loved one as a result of a road traffic incident does not underestimate the need for dedicated legal representation so that they can access the support they deserve.
By Claire Sadler, Personal Injury team.