Scott Rees & Co Partner Calls for Compensation Perception Change

This article was published on: 09/17/14

David Byrne of Scott Rees & Co in red background

Scott Rees and Co Marketing Partner, David Byrne has laid into the insurance industry and the MoJ, over figures that show the ‘compensation culture’ is putting off genuine accident victims from making a claim.

Recent research, carried out by QualitySolicitors, suggests that 60% of people resent personal injury claimants because they are perceived to be at fault for pushing up the cost of car insurance as part of a mythical ‘compensation culture’.

Overall the research showed that, on average, Brits are astonishingly left £1,178 out of pocket due to the reluctance to make a claim, leading to genuine accident victims missing out on important damages that help cover the cost of care and financial losses during the recovery period.

David Byrne, who has worked within the personal injury industry for over 20 years, lays the blame for this startling figure firmly at the doors of the insurance industry and the government, who he claims are continually whipping up a frenzy surrounding a compensation culture that doesn’t exist, just so that costs can be brought down and profits can be saved.

He said: “It is truly unreasonable to think that so many people are being driven away from claiming for compensation when in so many cases it is needed to help rebuild their lives.”

“This insurance led notion that we are living in a compensation culture has time and time again been exposed as a myth by independent research as well as the government’s own figures, which have actually shown that there has been reductions in the number of claims being made and a decrease in fraud.”

“Don’t get me wrong, the decrease is great if it is stamping out those claims being made without real injury, but if the reduction in claims represents that genuine victims are being deterred from claiming for what they deserve, then it is a complete misrepresentation.”

“If you suffer an injury due to the negligence of another person, whether it is on the road, at work or out and about in a public place, then you should feel comfortable about seeking compensation. The money awarded is important in ensuring that accident victims can afford such things as around the clock care, rehabilitation and loss of earnings if the injury forces you out of work for a length of time.”

“Worryingly, what these figures are revealing is that many are choosing to shoulder the burden of their injuries by themselves because they fear the scope that is associated with people who make compensation claims and that is simply not right.”

“When the government addressed the personal injury profession in regards to the referral fee ban and LASPO, they maintained throughout that they would always prioritise the retention of the genuine accident victim’s access to justice.”

“This is a far cry from keeping that promise and moves further towards tipping the balance in favour of the defendant, which of course is good news for the insurers as it means with less claims being made, their profit margins expand.”

“As for the idea that the level of compensation being claimed is ramping up the price of car insurance, it has already been proven that this is not entirely true and even if they were more profitable the money is still not being repaid proportionally into lowering car insurance premiums, so the only party that truly stands to gain by a reduction in people making claims are the insurers.”

Overall, QualitySolicitors research showed that 43% of genuine claimants had decided against claiming for compensation because they didn’t want to make a fuss, whilst a third (32%) were affected by their feelings towards the alleged ‘compensation culture’ and 13% of claimants were worried what others may think of them if they were to make a claim.

It is not only the claims process that the mythical ‘compensation culture’ has impacted either. Many successful claimants have been affected by how they are perceived when it comes to spending their damages.

According to the report, 43% of people think that a successful claimant spends the money on a nice holiday, 42% believe it will be spent on shopping sprees, 25% feel the money is spent on new cars and 23% thinks it goes on family treats.

David Byrne claimed these perceptions make for difficult reading and highlighted that the people of the UK are still misinformed when it comes to the process of recovery from a personal injury.

He said: “It really is sad to see so many people associating damages with luxury spending when in truth this couldn’t be more wrong.”

“In most cases, rehabilitation and care costs eat a large chunk of any damages received, so instead of paying for a nice holiday, the victims are often just paying to regain the ability to live comfortably within their own home once more.”

“In regards to a big spend on cars, well in the cases where the claimant was involved in a road traffic accident, you are more likely to find that they are dealing with anxieties about getting back on the road as well as a rehabilitation process for their injuries to enable them to even be able to drive again.”

“These sorts of opinions have all been whipped up by the insurance industry and when even the government believes everything they say as if it was gospel, how can you blame people for doing the same.”

John Baden-Daintree, who is the Director of Legal Service of QualitySolicitors, outlined the need for people to change their perceptions when it comes to accident victims.

Mr Baden-Daintree said: “This research shows that perhaps it’s time for us Brits to reassess our views of people who claim for personal injuries.”

“It’s a real shame that honest, hard working people are missing out on the financial compensation they need to get their lives back on track because they are worried others will think badly of them.”