Thursday, 25 July 2013

Lawyers hit back at unjust claims

One of our solicitors has hit back at claims that “ambulance chasing lawyers” are to blame for a huge rise in compensation claims. Alison Carter is a partner in our firm, who leads the personal injury team, and she has almost 20 years’ experience in the sector.

“I cannot believe the number of times lawyers are criticised for encouraging accident victims to take action when in fact it is claims management companies and insurers who contact victims to suggest they make a claim.

“It’s been a great concern to me for many years that insurers and data collection companies take such an aggressive stance to try to pressurise anyone involved in an accident to claim for compensation. It gives a bad and false impression of a profession that has helped genuinely, and often seriously, injured members of the public to seek compensation for their injuries when someone else has been at fault.

“Yes of course there are some bogus claims, but these are few and far between, and they are often caught out as soon as they start talking to an experienced personal injury lawyer.”

Alison said that previously, third parties did not charge a fee for passing on claims and victims approached solicitors directly.

“But a change in the law allowed claims management companies to be created and permitted insurance companies to charge solicitors for passing on personal injury claims. As the solicitors who actually do the work, we would have been more than happy for the old rules to remain in place, and for these ‘middle men’ who make financial gains from passing on details not to exist at all.”

Alison said the insurance industry had lobbied the Government so hard that significant changes to the claims processing system had already been made.

“But these changes have been ill-thought out and will be counter-productive. There was very little consultation with lawyers who handle the work, and this was a real missed opportunity. The new rules will prevent a lot of genuine claimants from pursuing their claims as there will be fewer solicitors offering the service and if the client submits a claim as an individual, they are likely to get much less compensation than they deserve.

“It’s long overdue that the true picture of the compensation claims industry is revealed, and that professional and experienced lawyers are no longer tarnished with a reputation they don’t deserve.”