Justice Secretary speaks to BBC about US-style personal injury claims
The Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has raised the possibility of big changes to the way accident compensation claims are paid for.
Mr Clarke, in comments made as part of an interview for the BBC Radio 4 programme Law in Action, said the government was in favour of US-style settlements in personal injury cases where some of the legal costs of a compensation claim are paid for by the claimant out of any damages they are awarded. If put into practice, it would mark a big change from the current No-Win No-Fee system, which sees accident victim’s legal costs paid for by the other side and kept separate from their compensation award.
According to the BBC, in the UK the idea of lawyers taking a cut or a share in their clients’ winnings has always been seen as wrong in principle. The BBC’s website gives an example where someone injured in an accident and who is judged by the court to require £100,000 to cover the costs of their medical care might only receive £75,000 after their lawyers take out their fees. Whilst this might be an extreme example, a quick search through US law firm’s websites finds many charging fees equivalent to between a quarter and a third of any damages they win for their client.
Whilst from the point of view of large organisations such as the NHS - which probably faces thousands of accident claims each year - this change in the way claims are paid for might seem like a good idea, it is not the same case for genuinely injured people. Currently the courts award injured people compensation based on the impact their injuries have had on their lives. This includes any time they might have had off work, any alternative arrangement they might have had to make, such as hiring a home help or getting someone to look after their children. It also includes future costs they might face such as ongoing treatment costs and any adaptations that might be needed to their homes – easy access ramps and stair lifts are just two examples.
There are difficult decisions ahead for the government as it looks to trim the budget deficit; however this possible change to the accident claims process, if it becomes reality, looks set to have a serious impact on a very vulnerable group in society.
No Win No Fee accident claims
At Camps Solicitors we closely follow all legal developments, particularly those related to injury claims and personal injury compensation. Our lawyers pride themselves on having the most up-to-date legal knowledge when it comes to making compensation claims for genuinely injured people. If you have been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault and you would like to make a claim against the person or persons responsible, then give Camps Solicitors a call.