ABI on Industrial Deafness Offensive
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) have accused lawyers of exploiting they ‘new whiplash’, after their own new report revealed that the number of industrial deafness claims is on the rise.
Of course, it would not necessarily be a bad thing if NIHL claims were the ‘new whiplash’ as the insurers put it as official Government figures revealed that since 2011, the number of whiplash claims has actually decreased, but why let the truth get in the way of a good story, especially if it leads to more Government cuts on the personal injury profession.
To accompany their latest claim for unfairness, the insurance industry’s favourite, mythical buzz term, ‘compensation culture’ has re-emerged as the ABI warned that thousands of people were being given false hope by claimant lawyers.
What does the ABI’s Report Show?
The report titled, “Noise Induced Hearing Loss Claims: Improving the claims system for everyone”, reveals that:
- Claims for NIHL being notified to insurers increased by 189% between 2011 and 2014
- On average £1 paid in compensation to successful claim – £3 paid out in legal costs
- Vital reform required to improve process for those genuine claimants.
Speaking about the findings of their own and of course, non biased report, the ABI’s Director of General Insurance Policy, James Dalton, said: “Thousands of people who worked in noisy environments in the 1960s and 70s without the right protection were rightly compensated in the decades which followed. These claims naturally tailed off following the introduction of better health and safety measures across British industry.”
“The recent spike in claims can only be a result of claimant lawyers spotting the potential to earn sizeable fees from these cases after their sky-high earnings from whiplash claims were reduced. The claimant lawyers and claims management firms are intent on exploiting the new source of income which deafness claims represent, irrespective of whether the claims they put forward are genuine…”
Seeing Through the Propaganda
So what have the ABI failed to recognise in their carefully constructed report? There is no doubt or disputing that the number of claims for NIHL has increased but the only ones committing exploitation is the insurers themselves.
They have long had designs on finding other ways to basically stamp out legal representation from personal injury claims and this is them exploiting the rise in cases for NIHL to put across their schedule for further fixed fee reforms across a profession that they have already done a number on.
For years, the employers in the United Kingdom have received warnings about the risk and effects of excessive noise pollution and the Government has over time introduced regulations in an attempt to tackle that.
As APILExecutive Committee member, Bridget Collier has stated in her blog for the APIL website, this is simply a case of the insurance industry being unable to comprehend that a higher number of industrial deafness claims is simply that and not an injustice to them. Basically, once more this is about the insurers feeling the clout on their profits and crying foul.
Further along in the blog it goes on to state that there is no single reason for the increase. This is down to a combination of factors and not just the evil personal injury profession trying to take advantage of those who have worked in noisy environments.
What are the real reasons behind the increase?
Some of the real reasons behind an increase in the number of NIHL claims being made as included in Bridget Collier’s blog include:
- Increase in job mobility in the last 30 years means that claims are now brought against former employers rather than just single employers
- Most people making claims are getting to the age of their mid-60s where the symptoms become recognisable
- All claimants would have entered employment in the 60’s when the industry was fixed with culpable knowledge that excessive noise lead to this injury
It is clear that none of these reasons for the increase in claims are controllable by the personal injury industry and it would be wrong to restrict the presence of legal representation for those people who have been unfortunate to have suffered because their employer failed to heed the warnings surrounding excessive noise levels.
Scott Rees and Co Partner, David Byrne, was critical of the ABI’s motives in their recent claims. He also outlined what the increase in claims really represented, stating: “It is clear that there is a historical problem with excessive noise pollution within the workplace and that is the reason for the number of people making claims consistently increasing.”
“What this means is that the Government must react by reviewing the safety within workplaces and look at what precautionary methods could be introduced to improve working conditions.”
“What the increase in claims should not be used as, is a chariot for the insurance industry anti-lawyer bile that they persist on spewing whenever their profits stand to be affected by a trend within the profession.”
“All that this latest outburst by the ABI represents is the insurance industry’s latest attempt to dupe the Government into making radical reformations to the profession, most notably in the claims process and is a blatant exploitation of an uncontrollable situation in order to better their own profits. The best interests of the victims of noise induced hearing loss are merely a smokescreen for their wider agenda.”
“I only hope that the Government can see through this and focus on improving working conditions, rather than taking away the ability to gain justice for what the past and present insufficient work conditions have caused.”