Whilst the government comes under fire for reforms and policies on the budget deficit, welfare, education and health, the majority of the general public seem to be unaware that the Government has also pushed through its devastating attack on Access to Justice for injured people in spite of vociferous opposition from the trade unions, the Labour Party, victim support groups and civil rights organisations.
As a result of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act 2012, those who are injured in workplace accidents, road traffic accidents or those who develop diseases related to their work, such as asbestosis, will now find it much harder to find a specialist lawyer to take on their compensation claim.
The reforms of civil litigation funding and costs in England and Wales will come into effect in April of this year. These reforms turn the rules currently in place upon their head and expose those genuinely injured people needing legal representation to run the risk of having to pay from their own pocket if they lose their case as the existing “No Win, No Fee” system will be no more.
The current system is knocked by government and the media because they say it encourages a so-called ‘compensation culture’. Under the existing rules, the lawyer for the injured person doesn’t get paid for the work they have done if that case fails, whilst a success fee is payable by the guilty party in successful cases.
In April the guilty party will no longer have to pay the success fee. Insurance policies purchased by victims of accidents to protect themselves from any adverse costs orders will no longer be met by the guilty party.
In addition, the government is seeking to amend the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 which will radically change the way injured workers claim compensation from their employers.
Currently an injured person will recover a 100% of their compensation with the new rules, this is unlikely to be the case.
It does not seem right that an innocent victim is not entitled to receive their compensation in full but this is the new regime as proposed by insurers and the government.
The real danger for anyone who suffers an injury or illness through the negligence of others, is that come April they will have difficulty in finding a lawyer who is able to take on their case, have the ability to recover an insurance premium to safeguard them with any costs they may incur in taking the matter to a trial and even if successful they will not recover 100% of any damages awarded.
The reason for these reforms is to curb the alleged rise in compensation claims for “whiplash” injuries and yet the reforms that are being introduced are aimed at all accident and occupational illness victims.
Yes there are fraudulent claims out there and these must be stamped out with the full force of the law. However, the vast majority of claims are not fraudulent or exaggerated as the government and insurance industry would have us believe. The proverbial sledgehammer is being applied to crack the “whiplash nut”.
More injured people will become reliant on the NHS and benefits when compensation for their accident would have helped pay for their loss of earnings, need for care and rehabilitation of injuries caused through no fault of their own.
If you or a member of your family think you have been injured through no fault of your own, do not delay in contacting Attwaters Jameson Hill on 01279 638888 for advice and assistance. Click here for further information on our Personal Injury department.
Claiming before the 1st April will make all the difference.