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23 November 2010 / personal-injury-news
Proposals to reform personal injury compensation would place a greater risk burden on victims and slash their damages by up to a quarter, warns National Accident Helpline [NAH], the leading marketing group for solicitors specialising in personal injury. Speaking at the MASS conference on Friday 26th November, Sam Porteous, NAH’s CEO, will say that Lord Jackson’s recommendation to scrap the recovery of success fees is a ‘levy on justice’ for personal injury victims which would make solicitors less willing to take on cases.
Abolishing the recoverability of success fees would transfer financial risk to the victim, acting as a deterrent to seeking compensation for injuries that were not their fault. It would also increase the financial risk for solicitors taking on new cases, suggesting that they would be less willing to help victims in cases where the outcome was far from certain.
NAH has examined a typical claim scenario under the current regime and calculates that the net effect of the same claim if Lord Jackson’s reforms were adopted is a loss of £16,500, or almost 25 per cent.
The key proposal that will reduce the payout is that success fees would no longer be recoverable from the losing party. The recommendation to increase general damages by 10 per cent will fall far short of offsetting this loss.
Example of a typical claim scenario
In the following scenario, the victim is a self-employed builder who has been involved in a serious car accident, which is proved to be the result of a third party’s reckless driving. The victim suffers a serious back injury which requires surgery and leaves him unable to return to work for 12 months. Current regime
- General damages (for pain and suffering) - £10,000
- Past losses (lost earnings ,care costs, private medical treatment, damage to equipment and vehicle and other expenses) - £60,000
- Total damages: £70,000
Under Lord Jackson’s proposals
- General damages (including Jackson uplift of 10%) - £11,000
- Success fee (capped at 25%) - £17,500
- Total “Jackson” award (total damages less success fee) - £53,500
- Jackson impact on claimant: £16,500 less
Sam Porteous, CEO, National Accident Helpline, comments: “It is very hard to escape the conclusion that Lord Jackson’s proposals would result in anything other than a reduction in good access to justice.
“The majority of victims are not high earners, meaning that damages payouts of relatively small sums can have a significant impact on livelihoods. Victims, already suffering from a personal injury, now face the prospect of a double blow as their compensation would be cut significantly.
“Maintaining the principle of the recoverability of success fees is crucial because it reflects the fact that claimant solicitors provide a free service to injury victims, even though they may not succeed. We do not believe claimants should have to pay a ‘levy on justice’ for their compensation.
Lord Justice Jackson’s proposals would add significant barriers to those seeking access to justice, particularly among the worst off.” National Accident Helpline is the leading marketing group for solicitors specialising in personal injury and is responsible for the recent campaign championing consumers’ rights to justice through the website www.underdog.co.uk
About National Accident Helpline
National Accident Helpline is the leading marketing and legal services company for solicitors who specialise in Personal Injury law and represents more than 100 legal practices across the UK. If a consumer has had an accident which was someone else’s fault then we will put them in touch with a member firm, so they can seek redress for the injury they have suffered. Through our national solicitor network, we champion consumer rights for people who have had accidents, helping those with genuine claims to seek redress and gain access to justice to help aid their recovery. National Accident Helpline is authorised by the Ministry of Justice in respect of regulated claims management activities and is a registered company, incorporated in the UK. For more information please visit the website: www.underdog.co.uk
For media enquiries please contact: Matthew Rosser, National Accident Helpline: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel. 01536 527500/07834 518603
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