So the surprise Autumn statement from the Government arrived to bring some Christmas joy for everyone, unless you are unlucky enough to suffer a “minor” injury in an accident that wasn’t your fault that is.
Chancellor George Osborne stunned the personal injury profession by announcing proposals in his Autumn Statement to ban cash payments for those suffering minor whiplash symptoms, as a result of small accidents and increasing the small claims limit to £5,000.
If you read and buy into the propaganda, then this will lead to savings on your car insurance premiums but if you are a realist and are not easily fooled you will see the far bigger picture, which is that those people who suffer an injury, in an accident that wasn’t their fault, stand to be turned away from claiming the compensation they would need to cover things such as loss of earnings and extensive treatment because the Government want to hound out fraudsters.
Perhaps the biggest kicker of all is that the insurance companies, who in many cases are facilitating these fraudsters, stand to gain more than anyone from the proposals. They will save what is estimated to be around £1bn per year and as a nice added bonus, as a result of the announcement they have all had a boost in shares overnight.
There is no doubt we would all like a car insurance to be cheaper but to enforce it at the expense of people who have genuinely been injured in an accident that was not their fault is simply unthinkable and it threatens to undo the very nature of the Magna Carta, the very same legislation the Government were swooning over in celebration of its 700th anniversary earlier in the year.
Speaking about the announcement, Scott Rees and Co Partner, David Byrne, warned that this could have a catastrophic effect on what was a great profession.
“Increasing the Small Claims Limit is simply unthinkable. It will rob thousands of genuine accident victims of their right to access to justice and leave injured victims without the compensation they need and deserve.”
“Who are the insurers or the Government for that matter to determine what is and isn’t a serious injury. The stigma of any road traffic accident can have long lasting effects on any person involved and it is not as simple as just offering physiotherapy and treatment.”
“What happens in the instance that someone is injured badly enough that they are forced to take an extended period of leave? How are they supposed to afford the right level of treatment, whilst covering the cost of their monthly bills, just because it is deemed that their claim isn’t worth £5,000.”
“Then there is the impact on the legal profession itself? If this legislation is brought in, it is going to make sustainability for many firms nigh on impossible. The high street firm will disappear in front of our eyes and of course the real issue with this is that when people genuinely need legal representation, they will not have anyone to turn to.”
“Without legal representation being available, many accident victims will be forced to take on the courts system themselves, as defendants will be encouraged to deny liability at all costs. These genuinely injured people will have to fight for their compensation without skilled legal advice or assistance, which will almost certainly carry a further cost for them and almost inevitable defeat.”
“The personal injury profession are as committed as anyone when it comes to tackling fraud but it is infringing people’s rights if this comes at the cost of genuine accident victims. They did not ask to be put in the position where they need compensation to cover rehabilitation, loss of earnings and in most cases vehicle repairs. In addition to the strain that being involved in such an accident, they are now facing the prospect of being abandoned because the Government want to feed the insurers, who let’s not forget back them financially, insatiable desire to increase their profit margins. This is a classic case of stealing from the poor to feed the rich.”
Of course the insurers are delighted by the news and as mentioned before, big name firms, such as AXA, have already enjoyed a shares increase, in response to the news.
When talking about the money that is no longer available to accident victims, AXA UK boss, Paul Evans, said: “If implemented to its full potential, honest motorists will no longer bear the unacceptable cost for those who seek to profit from exaggerating minor accidents.”
“The insurers talk about motorists profiting from this but how can anyone truly believe that. They said that they would pump the money saved from the savings made by LASPO back into car insurance premiums, but after managing to do this for a little over a year, they are once again putting prices up and any savings made on car insurance premiums were minimal. It is clear from this that the savings made will not be passed on to the consumer.”
“This campaign has been nothing to do with saving honest motorists money, this is all about feeding their own profits by punishing the very same honest motorists when they have the temerity to be injured in an accident that they did not cause or ask to be in.”
“It is common knowledge that the vast majority of Road Traffic Accidents are worth less than the proposed £5,000 limit, so it is clear to see that if this increase does happen and you then do have the unfortunate luck to be injured in an accident, that you will be left to fend for yourself, with no compensation to help fund any ongoing treatment you require.”
“People need to ask themselves, whether a saving of maximum £50 per year, is truly worth it, when the reality is a whole lot worse should you suffer injury in an accident that wasn’t your fault?”
“The Government need to ask themselves whether they have truly explored every avenue, in their attempt to drive fraudulent drivers off the road, before they implement such a disgraceful piece of legislation.”
It is now more important than ever that the public make their voices heard and you can start doing this by signing this petition to oppose these proposed changes.
You can sign the petition at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/113810