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Compensation culture: Myth or reality?

 

It has been widely reported over the weekend that Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, vows to ‘slay health and safety culture’.
 
He further goes on to warn that society has become ‘too inclined to blame someone else’ when something goes wrong, leading to a compensation culture that needs to be broken. This got me thinking is there such a thing as a compensation culture or is it the ‘hot topic’ for today, particularly in light of a comments from a High Court Judge who said ‘Britain’s compensation culture is a national phenomenon’[1]
 
Whilst thinking about this, my attention was diverted by an advert on Facebook titled ‘A Bizarre British History of Claims’[2] which detailed some historical injury claims. I have reproduced a couple of them here:
 
In 1885, a pharmacist from Dublin trips on marble steps in a Turkish bath – wins £33 (modern equivalent: £1,594)
 
In 1900, a shipbuilder from Great Yarmouth swallows a fish bone – wins £1,000 (modern equivalent: £57,000!)
 
1904, a travelling salesman from Belfast bumps his head on a pole whilst watching another accident from the top of a tram – wins £7 (modern equivalent: £401!)
 
Insurer Aviva has analysed personal injury claims dating back to the 1860s and has found a bizarre range of successful claims, from falls caused by croquet hoops and bites by ferrets and fish, to blows in the eye by ammonia stoppers and head injuries caused by boxes of bacon.[3]
 
Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly recently accused the payment of referral fees in personal injury litigation as giving people a "perverse incentive" to make unjustified or frivolous claims. The government is hoping to curtail interest in compensation claims by making claimants who use solicitors on a "no win, no fee" basis pay their own legal costs. But the Aviva research indicates that frivolous claims pre-date any fee-free legal deals. Anna Stone, archivist at Aviva, found examples of completely self-inflicted and blatantly frivolous claims earning payouts worth thousands of pounds in today's money.
 
At University, I, along with every other Law Student, was taught the facts of a case, Donoghue v. Stevenson[4], heard in the House of Lords in 1932 which created the modern concept of negligence.
 
It is evident that personal injury claims are not modern day hysteria, despite the assertions from the Government.
Have you ever made a bizarre claim... and been successful? Do you think the government is right to try to clamp down on the compensation culture?
 
The Modern Injury Claim

I deal with a wide variety of personal injury cases with serious implications for the victim. In my experience, the only thing that has changed in the industry following recent changes is that the victim recovers less compensation as they now have to pay legal fees.
Injury claims that I deal with are not frivolous but founded on the negligence of a third party causing pain and financial difficulties to many a person.
 
 

   


[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/insurance/motorinsurance/10724490/Judge-refuses-whiplash-damages-as-he-criticises-Britains-compensation-culture.html

[2] http://injuryclaimsnationwide.co.uk/article/history-of-injury-claim?src=tab

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/money/blog/2011/jul/14/compensation-culture-personal-insurance-claims

[4] http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKHL/1932/100.html


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