If you believe the headlines you might be forgiven for believing that we’re a nation that’s quick to claim compensation if we suffer a personal injury. In fact, all those adverts for companies encouraging people to make a claim are actually telling a different story. The personal injury market in the UK is fairly small and companies are chasing the same people.
The data provided by the government illustrates that claims have been falling over the previous few years. In 2017 the number of settlements recorded by the Government Compensation Recovery Unit was 1,013,490. In 2018 this fell to 894,563. It fell again in 2019 to 853,259 . This figure is believed to represent just a fraction of the number of people who are entitled to make a claim and could do so successfully.
Brits don’t like to make a fuss
British people are slow to make claims even when they’ve suffered serious injury. Data gathered over a number of years all points to the same key trends. While a quarter of Brits say they would be likely to make a claim, over eighty per cent believe other people are right to do so. While the ending of legal aid for personal injury claims some years ago reduced the number of claims, other factors also play a part in public attitudes.
So why is there such a mismatch?
There is no ‘compensation culture’
Media coverage of personal injury claims tend to focus on non-representative cases. It rarely touches upon the daily hard work of securing adequate compensation for people who have suffered life changing injuries. These people are now having to deal with the emotional, financial and employment consequences of their injuries. This mismatch between reality and the media story can serve to make claimants look greedy or somehow deceitful. This is an unjust characterisation based on distortions of the data. Compensation is simply about ensuring that people who have had an accident are able to rebuild their lives.
Fear of going to court
There’s a widespread belief that personal injury claims mean you will have to go to court. This provokes an understandable fear that puts people off making a claim. In fact, the overwhelming majority of cases are settled without going anywhere near a courtroom. On those rare occasions when a claimant has to visit court, they will have a specialist solicitor on hand to guide them. Your solicitor will be upfront about the likelihood of this being needed from the very beginning, meaning you have the chance to make an informed choice.
Making a claim is costly
Many people fear hefty upfront costs for launching a claim and the removal of legal aid support for personal injury claimants only served to reinforce that belief. They also fear that if their case is unsuccessful, they’ll have to pay solicitor fees that they cannot afford. With no-win, no-fee claims the process is risk free for the claimant. If the personal injury solicitor does not think your claim is likely to succeed, they’ll discourage you from making a claim. Only if you win do you pay a percentage of the final settlement to the solicitor who acted on your behalf. The level of this will be discussed and agreed upon before the claim is made.
Personal injury claims are complicated
Any kind of legal matter is often believed to be complex. This is particularly so in relation to personal injury claims. The process is in fact reasonably straightforward and you will not be left to make sense of it on your own. Your solicitor will take you through the procedure step by step, explaining in a completely jargon-free way how a claim works. If we can’t take on your case, we’ll make sure you understand why in clear language.
You can lose your job if you make a personal injury claim
This is one of the biggest fears of people who could be in a position to make a personal injury claim. They worry that an employer might look to get rid of an employee who makes a claim following an accident in the workplace. This would in fact be illegal. There are strict rules governing dismissal and it’s illegal for an employee to be either dismissed or treated unfairly as a result of a personal injury claim. Any employer who acted in such a manner would be liable for further legal action. In reality however, many employers express remorse for workplace accidents that involve valued members of staff and can be keen to ensure a just and fair settlement. A personal injury claim should find a fair outcome that both employee and employer can accept.
A big company will always win against the little guy
There’s a widespread belief that somehow large companies have the law in their pockets and are always likely to win when it comes to personal injury claims. In fact, some of the biggest companies in the UK have settled personal injury claims and are treated no differently to a local corner shop or window cleaning business in the eyes of the law. England and Wales has some of the most detailed and comprehensive laws in the world covering any number of different scenarios. It doesn’t matter if your employer is a FTSE 100 listed company, the local authority or a small business, the laws are there to provide us all with adequate protection.
Personal injury payouts are taxable so it isn’t worth it
Another myth we often hear is that personal injury payouts are subject to income tax. This is not the case. Compensation is completely exempt from income tax.
Talk to a professional
Unfortunately, widespread myths prevent many people from even making an initial phone call or from sending an email. A legal professional well versed in personal injury claims will be able to advise you how best to proceed. It’s important to put the myths to one side to ensure that you’re not missing out on compensation to which you are legally entitled.
We offer free, impartial advice about personal injury claims. Why not call us or fill in our contact form today?