There is an ongoing debate about whether we live in a ‘compensation culture’. The multitude of adverts on TV and radio reminding people they might be able to make a claim, along with the unsolicited phone calls and text messages many people receive, would suggest that there is some truth to the notion that the legal profession is being taken over by so-called ‘ambulance chasers’. But, as anyone who has been seriously hurt in an accident that wasn’t their fault will tell you, compensation can make a real difference, and it also provides an important means of holding those at fault to account.
In general, our daily lives are getting safer, not more dangerous. In order to explain the rise in personal injury claims, then, it’s important to consider both the increased understanding members of the public have regarding their rights, and the legislative environment in which solicitors are operating. Specifically, the no win, no fee framework appears to have been a major factor in the surge in personal injury claims.
By supporting your claim with evidence (witness testimony, accident book records, medical reports or photographs) a lawyer can take your case to court to contest the issue of fault. Whilst a breach of ‘duty of care’ can apply to both individuals and organizations that have failed to uphold their responsibility not to harm others, ‘negligent behaviour’ or ‘contributory negligence’ implies that the guilty party could have foreseen that their actions would cause harm.
Making a personal injury claim opens up a world of moral debate. Whilst every citizen is entitled to seek recompense in the event of undue suffering, the propagation of a blame culture increases costs to the public and a climate of anxiety and fear that actually prevents people from enjoying their lives.
Unfortunately, however, the byproduct of this will be that people who don’t have the financial means to fund a claim (that they have no guarantee will succeed) will not be able to go to court at all. That means that the most vulnerable members of society won’t have the same access to justice in personal injury cases as those with a higher income, undermining the democratic principles on which our judicial system is supposed to be founded. It remains to be seen exactly how this change to the law will play out, but anyone interested in standing up for their rights would be well-advised to keep following this story.
Find out more about all kinds of accident claims by speaking to an expert.