Accident Victims Will Suffer
3rd August 2011
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Once the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill is enacted people who have been injured through the negligent actions of others will be considerably worse off warns Alison Carter, head of Martinkaye Injury LLP.

The governments proposed legislation will reduce access to justice and reduce the amount of compensation received by drastically restricting “no win no fee” agreements”, states Alison.  

She explains that in the last 5 years almost 3 million people have used “no win no fee” agreements to fund legal claims and 80% have expressed their satisfaction with the current system. Under the existing regime Claimant’s are able to keep 100% of their compensation if successful in a personal injury claim. They are able to take out insurance to protect them against paying the other sides costs in the event that they are not successful and are able to recover the cost of this insurance premium from the  ‘at fault’ party.   In addition, in successful cases, Claimant solicitors are able to recover their success fee from the negligent party’s insurers.  The success fee is a percentage uplift on the solicitor’s base costs which softens the financial blow in respect of the cases they lose, when they do not get paid at all. Under the new proposals, neither the insurance premium nor the success fee is recoverable from the Defendant; the Claimant is expected to foot the bill.

The effect of this is two-fold; firstly injured parties will face hefty reductions in the amount of compensation they receive. This will impact particularly on those who are catastrophically injured who need every penny of their compensation to fund future needs.  It is expected that there will be a cap on the amount that can be deducted; it may be set at 25%. Those with serious injuries might become heavily reliant on the state if their compensation is to be reduced by a quarter in this way.

The second impact concerns access to justice, funding will almost certainly be a barrier to many people pursuing a claim. Many Claimants will not be able to afford to pay for the insurance policy and will not be able to take the risk of losing and having to pay the other side’s costs without one.  Claimant Solicitors will be forced to set low success fees or to do without one at all in the hope of attracting client’s to their firm. This, in turn, will mean that solicitors will naturally shy away from the riskier cases, again here the seriously injured will be particularly affected as these cases tend to be the more complex and the more hard fought.

In summary, says Alison, “the proposed legislation will have a huge impact on the ability of those that have been injured as a result of the fault of others getting the compensation they need and deserve and I would urge anyone that has been injured in this way to make a claim sooner rather than later so that they can pursue the claim under the current, much fairer system.  Alison and her team are happy to advise further and can be contacted on 01952 525625.

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Mark Luckman

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