Compensation Culture Myths Exposed

There has been a sustained attempt by the Government and the media to present the UK as a "compensation culture". A recent report from the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) shows how this simply is not the case.

The Government argues that "compensation culture" harms businesses as they fear being sued for accidents which are not their fault, meaning they cannot invest and grow.

The evidence found by APIL and the TUC in the 'Compensation Myth' report, was actually sourced by none other than the Government itself.

Two government reports quoted in the report reveal the truth;

The first, from Lord Young called "Common Sense Common Safety" in 2010, stated "compensation culture" was imaginary.

The second, from Professor Ragnar Lofsted called "Reclaiming Health and Safety for All: An independent review of Health and Safety Legislation" in 2011, concluded there was no evidence of a "compensation culture".

So what are the myths about compensation?

The most common ones are:

1. Workers are too ready to claim
2. Compensation claims are spiralling out of control
3. Compensation payments are too high
4. Compensation is paid out too easily
5. Lawyers drag these cases out to keep their costs up

Are workers too ready to claim? The government keeps records of workplace accident claims that show the number of claims halved from 2003 to 2013. Most people making a claim want their employer to learn lessons from their accident, making sure no one else suffers the same problems, with falling accident rates showing the good this can do.

Compensation claims are not spiralling out of control. Each year over 600,000 people are injured at or made ill by work. The number making a claim and receiving compensation is around 100,000, so half a million people each year do not.

Compensation payments are dictated by the legal system

Injury VictimCompensation payments are not too high, they follow strict rules set by the legal system every year and published so everyone can see what their compensation should be. In a survey of 64,000 claims in 2011, over half were for less than £5,000, with three quarters for less than £10,000. The large amounts of compensation a small number receive are for injuries so serious that the effect on life is great, such as being unable to walk, losing a limb or being blinded.

Is compensation is paid out too easily? After any accident it has to be proved that someone was to blame, not just that someone was injured. Often accidents can be just that, an accident no-one could have avoided. No compensation is paid for accidents unless someone was to blame.

Lawyers gain nothing by dragging cases out.

Governed by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA), the professional standards that solicitors working on personal injury cases abide by mean the correct time to settle is when it is right for the person making a claim. How the injuries recover is the most important factor. If the insurance companies accepted fault quickly in clear cut cases, treatment that could help speed up recovery could be paid for.

Everyone who has been injured or made ill as a result of someone else's fault has a right to claim the compensation they are entitled to. If you need advice on how to make a claim, contact one of our experts for a free no-obligation discussion.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher