The culture of compensation and the accusatory finger

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 1 April 2015:

Once again are people pointing the accusatory finger at personal injury lawyers for fostering a so-called ‘compensation culture’ here in the UK.

It’s a perennial complaint, and one that personal injury solicitors have had to labour under for years now: the number of spurious accident claims has been going through the roof because Brits are being coaxed into making claims in order to pursue cash windfalls. Much of the complaint is complete and utter bollocks of course – especially with new legal reforms seriously curtailing the amount of money lawyers can make in legal fees – but it hasn’t stopped crusaders. At this point it’s even spread to High Court judges, who have begun to throw out more cases that smell either fraudulent or spurious.

In fact, it just happened recently; Mr Justice Mostyn decided to toss out the injury claims made by two immigration officers who reported having serious injuries after a work vehicle they were traveling in collided with a bollard. The pair made what did seem like completely outrageous claims, especially considering how the other occupants of the car weren’t injured in any way – and it was nothing but naked greed that was motivating the two women who made the claims.

In this case I’m not going to argue – it does sound very much like there was something fishy going on. When it comes down to it, it was probably the right thing to toss the case out. Meanwhile other cases slip through the cracks, like the story of an injured schoolteacher who received a massive compensation payment after he slipped and fell on a ketchup sachet of all things.

Essex County Council had to pay through the nose on this one. £90,000 went to the teacher directly, while around £120,000 went to the teacher’s legal team and another £20,000 went to miscellaneous fees. That’s shedloads of money, however you look at it, but there are some strange holes in the teacher’s story that make me wonder what’s going on here.

First of all the incident occurred in 2008 allegedly, yet the teacher didn’t make a claim until the 11th hour in 2011, just before the window of eligibility closed on a possible claim. Have you ever been injured so badly that you deserved £90,000 in compensation yet didn’t immediately file a claim for that cash? Yes, me neither.

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