Defendant law firm, Weightmans, has launched an astonishing attack on claimant solicitors, blaming them for encouraging workplace stress related claims, in order to attract higher fees.
This accusation comes despite there being no evidence of increased fraudulent activity within the stress related claims arena and is seemingly based solely on the migration of certain claimant solicitors and claims management companies (CMCs) to this area of the profession.
Of course, the most obvious explanation for this migration is the fact that the Government have all put priced most claimant firms out of the small claims court. This is due to the extent of their legal cuts under the Jackson Reforms and the banning of referral fees, which has hit claims management companies hard.
It is simply a case of needs must for personal injury solicitors and CMCs, who are simply changing the area of the profession of which they specialise, to remain profitable and not to attempt to encourage an increase in claims as alleged. This is supported by the lack of evidence suggesting increased fraudulent activity.
Nationally there has recently been a sustained campaign for the raising of awareness of the stigma of mental and stress related illness. This is likely to have seen more people identifying problems and attributing them back to their employers in the instance where they have suffered injury as a result of their negligence. Therefore, increased legal representation is bound to be required to ensure that the victim’s are able to have their rightful access to justice.
Roddy MacLeod, who is a partner at Weightmans, specialising in defending stress claims, explained their allegations, saying: “There has been an increase in stress claims in the workplace as awareness around mental illness has grown.”
“More claimant solicitors are entering this specialist area post the Jackson reforms and advertising is increasing for stress claims.”
“Increasingly, we see a claim for mental trauma tagged on to a claim for a physical injury to increase the amount of damages that could be claimed for. The contention that a mental illness is stopping a claimant from returning to work and so forming the basis for loss of earnings for the rest of their lives, can clearly lead to a sizeable increase in damages.”
“All sides need to be 100% clear that the mental condition at the heart of a claim is properly medically assessed.”
However, as the lack of evidence of any increase in fraudulent activity shows, Mr MacLeod’s claims are completely unfounded and if anything proves that mental and stress related illness, have for a long time been swept under the carpet as a serious issue..
In truth personal injuries often limit what the victim can do following their accidents and the inability to live their lives how they had previously can cause a great deal of stress and anguish for the victim.
People don’t ask to suffer injury as the result of somebody else’s negligence in the first place. Accusations. such as these, simply move further to attempt to discourage genuine claimants from speaking up about their conditions, by claiming the compensation they need to help recover from their conditions.