CAR INSURANCE NEWS ROUNDUP: 7 DAYS ENDING 31 MARCH 2014:
The accusation that ‘compensation culture’ has gripped the personal injury claims sector has again re-surfaced – and this time it’s a bit harder to refute.
Personal injury lawyers and other industry experts are usually quick to point out how the idea of a compensation culture running the accident claims sector is more or less bollocks, but that doesn’t stop accusations cropping up from time to time. The latest was from a High Court judge who threw out two personal injury claims on the grounds that it seemed as if they were both completely fraudulent.
The incidents in question revolved around a pair of immigration officers who reported injuries related to an incident where their work car hit a bollard. However, the two women took more than a week to report any injuries – and the collision was described as a minor bump at worst by other passengers. This caused Mr Justice Mostyn to throw the cases out on its ear, claiming that the motives behind the claims were motivated by financial greed and that this is exactly the kind of behaviour one expects in a society that encourages spurious injury claims.
Now I’m not going to say that there aren’t a few bad apples out there – that much is obvious, and yes fraud does unfortunately occur all too often. Instances like this make it even harder for legitimate claimants to gain access to justice, and every new case that sounds completely farfetched and out of control simply increases that difficulty.
A perfect example of this is how a teacher employed by Essex County Council ended up with a massive compensation award – some £230,000 – stemming from an injury that occurred after a slip on a ketchup sachet, of all things. The incident, which occurred in 2008 and which was resolved in 2011, came to light thanks to a recent Freedom of Information request.
Apparently though this £230,000 – which combines compensation to the unnamed teacher and the legal fees incurred – was actually a bargain for the council, considering how the matter was settled out of court. A full court case could have seen total costs increase to as much as £500,000 by some estimates. This makes it rather hard to blame the council for capitulating when it did, considering how much it had already spent something like £120,000 on legal fees at that point alone.
Now I have to say it – a ketchup sachet? Are you telling me that the injury was severe enough for this teacher to make a claim for compensation? It smells a bit fishy to me, especially since the claim was made just a few scant weeks before the time limit on bringing a claim expired. It makes me feel like the injury couldn’t have truly been that traumatic if the teacher took three bloody years to bring the claim! Then again, what do I know – I’ve never been laid low by ketchup before.