Lawyers have warned that the new laws to tackle the growing compensation culture making UK the ‘whiplash capital of Europe’ would hit genuine victims.
Those who suffer personal injury will have to pay their legal costs to claim compensation as ‘conditional fee agreements’ or much familiarly known ‘no-win, no-fee’ deals would start from today.
It could mean that even in the case where a claim is won in the courts the legal costs can no longer be recovered from the defending side.
The reforms in the claims law by the government is meant to stop fraudulent whiplash claims which has been seen as the main cause for motorists insurance premiums inflating to more than 20 per cent.
But some personal injury lawyers argue that genuine claimants even some of those who suffer severe injuries after an accident would be more reluctant to bring claims while lawyers may refuse to take on complicated cases that require more work especially if they may not be able to recover their full costs from the defendant.
A case of a semi-retired nurse Anne Spoor, 62, is such an example where she was hurt badly in a coach crash in 2008. While travelling the driver braked so hard that she had injured her arms shoulders seriously enough needing surgery in 2010 and again just a few weeks ago nearly five years after the accident.
Anne from Sale in Greater Manchester, says that the injuries had restricted her day to day household works and even driving had become a problem. She was unable to carry out her duty as a nurse as she could not carry medical equipment in an emergency.
In 2011 she used Manchester based solicitors and made a claim against the coach company and received £6,000 payout whereas her solicitor’s costs would have been paid by the coach firm or its insurance company.
But under the new rules the same case would have seen a 25 percent cut of her compensation that would be £4,500 to cover the lawyer’s costs. She says it was not easy for her to decide to go for a claim but for the substantial affect the accident had on her. She said she felt sorry for other genuine people who would be put off and lose out.
Anyone who has already signed an agreement with a personal injury solicitor, before the April deadline, can benefit under the previous rules if their case succeeds, with the full costs recovered from the defendant.
Under the new rules, personal injury lawyers face a cap on how much they can recover from the other side – known as a fixed recoverable cost.