The BBC reported yesterday across it's news channels that an increasing number of people involved in car accidents are making personal injury claims. These findings were from a report from the actuarial profession, which apparently suggests that despite an 11% fall in crashes in 2011, claims rose by 18%.The BBC's report, as such reports invariably tend to, ended with the warning that motorists insurance premiums were likely to rise as a result.
The report on BBC's Five Live radio programme Morning Reports featured an interview with a representative from 'an actuary group' who trotted out the usual insurer line which included the phrases 'accident management companies, ambulance chasers, referral fees, due to an increase in claims management companies activities etc.' The Beeb's own reporter helped him along, "So all these No Win - No Fee advertising campaigns seems to be working then?" No wonder the man from 'an actuary group' chuckled at this, presumably thinking 'who needs to be lobbying parliament when the Beeb reporters do our job for us?'
Bravo Beeb! - cutting edge, unbiased reporting about a topic which doesn't get much coverage!
The same afternoon, I had a visit from an old client of mine from the days when I had my legal practice. His daughter had had an accident at work some 18 months ago whilst doing some heavy lifting at work. She had damaged her back and shoulder so badly that she was still having severe problems and having to take time off work for medical appointments and for other reasons related to the injury. When my former client described how the accident happened, it quickly became apparent that the lady had a very good case against her employers. However until now she had resisted the idea of making a claim against her employers, but those same employers, for whom she still works, have refused to pay her for time off work, even though all of these absences have been directly related to the injury that she sustained at work. Therefore due to their intransigence and generally hostile attitude about the whole affair, she has decided to make a claim. I was able to refer the lady to a firm of solicitors specialising in personal injury claims (please note - no referral fee involved - how about a story about that Beeb?).
Now I realise that I have focused on two separate types of PI claims here - PI claims arising out of RTA's and one arising out of an accident at work. I can't help though making a comparison here. On the one hand we have a report which let's face it, yet again almost spits out the words 'personal injury claims' with contempt, or as the man from 'an actuary group' referred to them 'bodily injury claims' (sounds even more disparaging) - with the unsaid phrase hovering over the report - 'spurious bodily injury/personal injury claims.'
On the other hand we have a lady who has suffered a 'bodily injury claim' as a result of the negligence of her employers, and who has shied away from making a legitimate claim against her employers (and in effect their insurers) until she became riled enough to do so due to her employers' intransigence.
At the end of the day, as far as insurers are concerned, a PI claim is a PI claim however it arises. The way that the reform tide is flowing for insurers they will not be satisfied until it will be financially unviable for claimants to pursue all but fairly catastrophic bodily injury claims via a firm of solicitors, leaving them at the goodwill of the insurers in deciding how much if any compensation they should receive following an accident - and that is even if potential claimants such as my lady in question feel bold enough to put in a claim in person against hostile employers, in the first place.