Will the legal aid really improve things for accident victims?

We keep hearing about a personal injury compensation culture in the UK and now the Ministry of Justice believes the new legal aid bill will rid the country of ambulance-chasing lawyers.

Last year, 790,000 people made a claim against their motor insurance. More than 1,500 a day of these were personal injury claims from people who said they had suffered whiplash. After a summit, David Cameron said he would slash the fees personal injury solicitors could command on small claims.

Legal aid was scrapped for personal injury claimants 12 years ago and in its place we got the no win no fee system that prevails today. The new legal aid proposals will do away with the recoverability principle of no win no fee. Furthermore, referral fees will be banned. These are the fees lawyers pay to the claims management companies that actively seek out accident victims and encourage them to claim compensation.

The government had hoped that the claims management companies would simply disappear into the ether, but that doesn’t look likely. Instead they will probably change to an alternative business structure and handle cases themselves through in-house lawyers.

It has been suggested that the British public are oblivious to their rights when it comes to health and safety. But are the health and safety rules sensible? A lot of accidents would be avoided if people just used a bit of common sense. Maybe the government should consider introducing a common sense bill instead of taking legal aid away from the most vulnerable members of British society.

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