Turn on the television, walk down the high street, listen to the radio; it seems that there is no escape from the number of companies encouraging people to get in touch about accidents or injuries that they have suffered in the last three years. But why is there this seeming explosion of personal injury touts and is this sign of something wrong with our attitude towards each other? Are we really all looking for an easy way to make money from our fellow man, or is something deeper going on?
It is undoubtedly true that more is made these days about people seeking compensation when they have been injured, whether at work, on the public highway or as a result of medical treatment. Whether this points to greed, however, is debatable. As with all such matters, there is no easy answer that will put an end to the debate once and for all; opinion is and will remain divided. But what seems clear is that people these days are aware of their rights when they have suffered an injury through the careless or negligent behavior of another. Surely any increased awareness of the rights that we have under law is a good thing?
As in all areas of life, there are those who abuse the system, but this does not mean that the system itself is at fault. On the contrary, the ease with which people can now access justice has done a lot to address the inequality that used to exist in the area of personal injury law. Conditional fee agreements now mean that accident victims can bring an action against the negligent party, regardless of their ability to fund the claim. Claims are heard on merit,meaning that potential claimants are not put off seeking justice because they fear a large legal bill should the claim fail. One contentious area of personal injury law, however, lies with the number of road accident claims that are in the system at any one time.
Road accident claims are notoriously difficult to defend, as one of the most frequently cited injuries arising from such an accident is whiplash. Whiplash injuries are difficult to prove. And by extension they are difficult to disprove. Such claims are often settled out of court relatively quickly and the apparent ease with which compensation seems to be attainable means that this is an area of law that is sometimes abused by opportunists.
The solution seems to be in the hands of personal injury law firms. Reputable firms will not knowingly pursue a claim that they feel to be dubious. There is an argument for tightening the system somewhat and making the process of claiming a little more difficult, but there is always the risk that this will again result in access to justice being removed from the reach of those most in need. Whatever the state of the area of personal injury law in the future, there will always be a fine line between use and abuse. And it is unlikely that the debate will reach a conclusion any time soon.