Has the Government sold out the rights of Injured Accident Victims and Injured Patients?
16 November 2018
The recent passage of the Civil Liability Bill through the commons without even the amendments suggested by the Conservatives at 2nd reading (which would have given some protection to vulnerable parties), is an affront to justice and will harm the legal rights of anyone who has been injured in an accident or as a consequence of poorly performed treatment.
- Rigid tariffs for whiplash damages, meaning a person who has a road traffic accident after introduction will receive less compensation than Judges believe is appropriate. The only slight improvement is the Government have backed away from their 2015 position of no injury damages for Whiplash. Small mercies! When introduced a person injured for about 6 months will get the same damages as someone whose plane is delayed for 4 hours.
- The Government’s own definition of whiplash, which was somewhat lacking to many commentators.
- Permission for an uplift on tariffs in exceptional circumstances.
- A ban on pre-medical offers (not a bad thing).
- Changes to the way the discount rate is calculated to assume that injured people are not considered risk averse.
Additionally by different route there will be an increase of the small claims limit to £5,000 for all RTAs and to £2,000 for EL/PL claims.
It was introduced because the Insurance industry convinced the Government that fraud was rife, costs were escalating and the number of claims were going up. The key issue, however, was that none of these statements were correct (on the Insurance industries own statistics), but the Government in a gift to insurers determined that injured victims and injured patients should have their rights diluted.
Devil in the detail – what it actually means for the consumer, injured person or injured patient.
1. There is one guaranteed outcome, Insurers profits (that are already increasing) will increase more. It is said that a person may expect to pay £35 less per annum for their car insurance, before of course the next inevitable Government increase in Insurance Premium Tax (another hidden secondary tax) dents that figure. I am sure the catastrophically injured paraplegic road traffic accident victim or the child with an avoidable birth injury will gladly surrender £5 million pounds they should have been awarded for care in exchange for the £35 per year reduction (which notably most people have not actually seen).
2. A person who is injured in a car accident whose injuries last less than 2 years will get less damages and the Insurers will not pay for their legal costs. They may find that it is difficult to be represented. Their damages will not be assessed by Judges (with their very qualified legal minds) but rather by a tariff designed by Government Civil Servants.
3. A person who is injured at work (a more frequent event following the Enterprise Act 2016) will probably not be able to get legal representation if their injuries are valued at less than £2000.
4. A person with ongoing needs such as care will run out of money before they recover or in the case of the catastrophically injured person will run out of the money they need for care long before the need ends. In these circumstances the injured person will when they run out of money have no option but to turn to the State and the NHS and use their resources, which will be unable to satisfactorily fill the gap that was insured in the first place. The Civil Liability Bill which is likely to get Royal Ascent in spring 2019 and be in force by spring 2020 at the latest will undermine access to justice and will simply boost profits for insurers and reduce the available resources of the State.
At Curtis Law we will continue to fight your corner. We will continue to strive to maximise damages. We will via our membership of various groups continue to place political pressure where we can. We will remain your specialists you can rely upon. A person never ‘wins’ damages, rather they are awarded damages that go some short way to compensating for the loss or injury.
The only other possibility is that if the current Government falls the Bill may fall off the radar. Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps…
Jerard Knott Senior Associate Head of Clinical Negligence and Catastrophic Injury