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Page updated - 06 December 2005

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Cornard News - These articles were first published in Cornard News

2000 Summer

Issue 02

COMPENSATION FOR PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS

The levels of compensation for injuries in England are significantly lower than those in America. One reason for this is that in England, the general rule is that the claimant with injuries worth over £1,000 is also entitled to receive payment of their legal costs, whereas, in America, the lawyer takes a percentage share of the value of the claim. However, this does not fully explain the huge difference in values.

 

In 1999, the Law Commission carried out research into the levels of compensation paid in England and concluded that the levels of compensation had fallen significantly since 1970, and they, therefore, advised that awards of over £3,000 should be increased by at least 50%, and awards of the maximum severity should go up by 100%.

 

The Court of Appeal reviewed the Law Commission's recommendations and, on the 23rd March 2000, their decision was published. The Court of Appeal stated that "There should be no increase in damages for compensation in claims currently worth less than £10,000" and that awards "at the highest level" should be increased by in the region of one-third. Between those awards at the highest level and those awards where no increases are to be made, the adjustment will taper downwards.

 

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers called the decision a "bitter blow", saying "this decision flies in the face of all evidence which shows damages for pain and suffering has not kept pace with the cost of living over the last 30 years".

 

They went on to state that "It fails all those who so badly need just and fair compensation to help them put their lives back on track after they have just been injured, and virtually ignores the views of ordinary members of the public who told the Law Commission they believed compensation payments were far too low."

 

The Court of Appeal have missed a significant opportunity to increase levels of compensation, and effectively, their decision will make very little difference to the vast majority of people injured in accidents, whose injuries are relatively modest.

 

Mark Heselden

 

2000 Winter

Issue 04

ARE YOU ENTITLED TO COMPENSATION?

If you have been hurt in an accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to claim compensation, not just for the injury itself but to cover the expenses due to the accident. For example, loss of wages and future loss of wages if you are no longer able to work.

 

According to research most people who could make a claim for compensation are not doing so. The reasons given for this are that the majority of accident victims are scared of making a claim because of fears of high legal costs, fears of having to appear in court or not being aware that they have a right to claim. A common example is spouses thinking they cannot get compensation if they are hurt in an accident caused by their other half. An injured passenger, whether a family member or not can sue the driver if the accident was the driver's fault.

 

It is very easy to make a claim. A letter of claim is sent and the insurers have to confirm their position on liability within 3 months. If they admit liability, it is just a matter of calculating the value by obtaining a medical report. To make a claim for compensation, the injury need not be serious. Injuries such as ‘minor’ whiplash, fractured fingers, scars, burns, back problems and even ‘traumatic stress’ may entitle the injured person to a compensation payment.

 

Most people are aware that if they are injured in a road accident they are entitled to claim. However, the type of accident that would entitle the injured person to claim for compensation is almost endless.  For example; accidents caused by defective products, pavement tripping, slipping on wet floors in shops, accidents in offices, accidents in factories and warehouses, being seriously bitten by some else's dog, accidents at playgrounds, failure to diagnose medical conditions and/or treat them correctly. All these are common circumstances where compensation awards have been made but claims usually have to be made within 3 years of the accident otherwise they will be ‘Statute Barred’.

 

If you are successful in your claim for compensation and receive more than £1,000.00 in compensation for the injury, then the party you are making the claim against will usually be responsible for paying your legal expenses, in addition to making the payment for compensation.

 

Mark Heselden