DYJ is asking visitors to the site to vote on whether or not the small claims limit for personal injury claims should be increased.
What do you think? Vote Here
For the facts behind the argument…read on.
Recently the Government has mooted it may increase the small claims limit for personal injury claims from £1,000 to £2,500, following concern that lower value personal injury claims take too long and involve costs which can appear disproportionate to the amount at stake.
The insurance industry is also pressing for an increase to the limit, or the introduction of a system which removes lawyers from the process and involves insurers dealing directly with injured persons.
It is the Law Society’s argument that this would leave the injured person without independent advice and representation and leave them vulnerable to some insurers who might take advantage of them by pressurising them to drop their claim or settle for less compensation than they are entitled to.
For the Law Society the solution to concerns about cost and delay is to streamline the process, not deny the consumer independent representation. It has therefore published a booklet called 'Fast and Fair' which explains why they feel it is crucial for people to have the help of a solicitor in bringing their personal injury claim and shows how the process can be streamlined without denying people this help at a time when they most need it. They state their proposals would improve the claims system for thousands of victims who suffer injury because of someone else's negligence to provide simple, quicker and cheaper justice and that plans to raise this limit to £2,500 would leave thousands of victims to take on insurers alone and navigate a complicated legal process without any legal help.
You can download the Law Society’s “Fast and Fair” brochure by clicking here
Desmond Hudson, Law Society Chief Executive, is of the opinion that increasing efficiency should not interfere with people's right to help from a solicitor:
"An increase to the small claims limit would leave most victims at the mercy of big insurers whose directors must be popping champagne corks at the prospect. A MORI survey found that just one in three people would have the confidence to bring a claim without legal advice. Inevitably, people suffering broken bones, severed fingers and scarring would be left without the compensation they deserve.
"We need a fast and fair system that allows people to get advice whilst keeping costs down. There should be a simple process with strict time limits, incentives for efficient handling and for both sides to settle a reasonable claim early on. Our system involves early notification to the insurer enabling them to provide treatment to an injured party and to pay out quickly on straightforward claims before costs spiral.
"It is nonsense to suggest that we are in the grip of a US style compensation culture. In fact, the number of personal injury claims over the last five years has dropped."
The Law Society have released the following figures to support their claim:
Last year there were 674,422 personal injury claims in England and Wales. Approximately, two thirds of them were under £2,500 in value.
In the past five years there has been approximately a five per cent fall in the number of personal injury claims.
A MORI poll conducted by APIL (the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) found that two thirds of people who suffer injury through someone else's negligence would not pursue it through the small claims court without an independent solicitor helping them.
Research conducted by UNISON in 2005 with their members about their recent claims found that 63% would not have proceeded with their case or felt confident going before a judge without legal representation and 66% believed they would not have been dealt with fairly without the help of a lawyer.
So those are the fact…now let us know what you think…Vote Now!