When it landed with a thump on my doormat I thought the heavy manila envelope was the Census. I was soon to discover that its contents were not so benign, it was a court documents relating to a traffic accident occurring a few months previously, claiming personal injury.
Stopping late one night at traffic lights I inadvertently pulled up my handbrake insufficiently, and while distracted the automatic cab inched forward to touch the car in front. We got out, exchanged details; I took photographs of what appeared to be two undamaged vehicles and we went on our way. The next day the third party informed me that he was claiming on his insurance, although independent engineer’s report later contradicted the assertion of damage to either vehicle.
[I] don’t want to elaborate on my case as, at the time of writing, the case is sub judice, but I did notice that the plaintiff’s solicitors were a company well known for their remorseless ‘no win – no fee’ advertising on local radio.
So we now have a situation that the plaintiff knows he’s not injured, his solicitor knows his client knows his claim is spurious and my solicitor knows that the other solicitor knows his client’s claim is based on a tissue of lies.
Since Legal Aid has all but been denied to anyone who has a job, leaving only convicted foreign criminals who are trying to evade deportation access to free legal representation, a whole sub-culture has built up in the legal profession, with all those involved knowing many cases on their books are works of fiction.
In most cases insurers just pay out nominal out of court settlements, as they know it’s cheaper that way, and the claimant will settle for a few thousand pounds, knowing that their claim is groundless and could not stand up to sustained interrogation in court.
The result of all this is that if you really do have a valid claim and will not be bought off for a small sum, settlement can take years. My neighbour’s daughter has suffered from an industrial injury, having waited over two years; she has no idea how long will be the wait for compensation for an injury that in later years will have a profound effect on her mobility.
I always thought that when studying to join the legal profession, apart from wanting to receive a reasonable income, the student hoped when qualified they could improve people’s lives with their learned and impartial advice. What must it be like on graduating with a law degree to find yourself processing – and that is what it is – claims, many of which you know are invalid? The newly qualified solicitor must suspect that previous generations in the legal profession wouldn’t have touched many of these cases for fear of being accused of malpractice.
If the plaintiff in my case does receive compensation he will probably put it towards his insurance premiums, for the irony of all this is that we are all paying on average 25 per cent more for motor insurance to cover these unreasonable claims, and as young inexperienced drivers’ claims are rising more steeply than other more experience motorists so are their premiums – as a result we all lose out.