March 13, 2013

Injured claimants to act now to beat deadline

Withy King is urging anyone thinking of bringing a personal injury, medical or dental negligence claim to act now, before new laws are introduced which will affect their compensation awards and make them much worse off.

The Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence teams at Withy King believe many people will miss the boat, not realising that controversial Government reforms come into effect on 1st April.

“The Jackson Reforms will affect the way in which costs are paid in civil cases,” explained Louise Hart, head of Withy King’s personal injury practice in Bath. “At the moment, when we settle a claim, our client keeps all of their compensation. The defendant is responsible for paying our costs and any insurance premium which has to be taken out in connection with the claim as well as any legal success fees.

“From the 1st April, anyone who hasn’t already signed up to a conditional fee agreement will almost certainly have to pay a success fee as well as the insurance premium out of their compensation award which, in the larger, more complex cases, will amount to a considerable sum.

“We feel that the new system is unfair and unjust, penalising some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” continued Louise Hart, a partner at Withy King. “Compensation awards are supposed to help people to regain a similar quality of life to the one they enjoyed before they were injured. In addition to compensating them for their pain and suffering, the award is calculated to cover the costs of their rehabilitation, specialist equipment or treatment and in the most severe cases, round-the-clock care for the rest of their lives, specially-adapted homes and transport.

“By making people foot the bill for insurance premiums and success fees, the Jackson Reforms are essentially eroding the compensation awarded to help the victim. After years of pressure, the Government has finally agreed to increase the level of compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity by 10 per cent but this is long overdue and not nearly enough to cover what people will soon have to pay out in costs.”

However, if those who believe they have a claim for personal injury or medical negligence sign up to a conditional fee agreement (otherwise known as no-win, no-fee) before 28th March, they can still benefit from the current regime – even if their case takes several years to settle.

Anyone signing up from the 1st April will lose out.

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