What Changes to Personal Injury Claims Mean For You
Suffering an injury that is not your fault is far from pleasant. Previous and current legislation recognise the importance of making it simple for someone who has been injured by the negligence of a third party to address the matter and seek compensation.
No win no fee: a history
No win no fee arrangements with legal firms as we now know them, were originally born back in 1995. The difference was that back then, 25 per cent of the claimant’s damages could be claimed by the legal firm handling the case. It was seen in many circles as unfair, mainly because the money awarded by a court was deemed to be correct for the suffering incurred, as well as past and future financial costs. Put simply, the court was never going to award an extra 25 per cent to cover lawyer’s fees.
Four years later and the then Labour government decided that the burden of legal fees should be passed to the defendant in the event of a successful claim, instead of the claimant. This meant that for the first time, an injured party could seek redress without fear of being left financially short, despite winning the case. That is the system that we have been enjoying in the UK.
Changes in how the no win no fee model will work means a return to the 25 per cent model. Insurance companies complain that too many personal injury claims are being made and are driving up the cost of insurance. Statistical evidence of this does exist but there may be other factors at work which need to be considered before reaching a definitive decision on the subject.
Until now, the idea has been that everyone has the right to make a claim, but whilst it is down to the courts to either uphold or dismiss the claim, the personal injury lawyer has ensured that only cases with a good chance of being successful found their way in front of the court.
By making these changes and reverting back to the pre-1999 model, the government want to remove the cost of a successful case away from the defendant. The most pressing concern is that the money awarded by the court is specifically for the cost of care and expenses related to the injury sustained and not for the case itself.
How these changes affect you will depend on the solicitors you use for your claim and the circumstances surrounding your specific claim but should not deter you from seeking action. If you have been injured through no fault of your own then you are entitled to compensation and professional lawyers can advise you on how to go about seeking this.