As you’ll probably remember, there was a huge buzz about the UK’s “compensation culture” a few years ago. For some people, this buzzword was the scourge of an entire nation. For others, it was a way to protect big businesses. Obviously, no one likes the prospect of people getting something for nothing. However, the whole topic of Britain’s “compensation culture” is much more complicated than that.
If the idea of people making fraudulent and successful claims makes you mad, then you’ll be happy to know that they’re not being left to it! Reforms in the early twenty-teens were brought in to crack down on the massive rate of frivolous injury claims, particularly the amount of fraudulent whiplash claims which were at the centre of a national scandal. For most people, this was a good thing. It reduced the number of fraudulent claims, and led to an immediate reduction in insurance premiums. However, there’s also been a significant negative effect for the people who genuinely need help. The general bias of the UK media has led to a huge proportion of claimants being seen as “ambulance chasers”. Some believe this has made a lot of people scared of being vilified for taking legal action against an employer or organisation.
The crackdown on the UK’s compensation culture had a lot of parallels to a similar process which happened in the states. One of the changes that was amongst America’s tight reforms was a limitation on the amount of damages which could be awarded for an injury claim. One famous case was Liebeck vs McDonald’s. In this case, a woman scolded herself with a cup of McDonald’s coffee, and sued the company for a large damages pay-out. It was dismissed by almost every paper in the world as a frivolous lawsuit; an ugly symptom of the American “suing culture”. This is in spite of the fact that Liebeck was seriously scalded by the incident, requiring skin grafts and a further two years of treatment. No damages limitations have been introduced in the UK, but there’s no certainty that they’ll never be brought in. With laws like this, it can be hard to tell if you’d be discouraging frauds, or hurting the people who need it most.
No one likes thinking about getting injured themselves, but you may be wondering what all of this means to you. Let’s say you were injured through the negligence of some other party. Your first question would likely be “where can I get sound accident information and advice?” The best answer to this would be a personal injury solicitor’s firm, a niche practice which depends upon the so-called “compensation culture”. If you decide that you do in fact feel entitled to compensation, then this practice area will also be your best hope for justice. The NHS will be able to provide you with some important care to begin with. However, there’s a limit on resources, and ongoing healthcare doesn’t come cheap! When you weigh it all up, I say it’s better to have a culture that’s too ready to compensate, rather than one that’s too ready to wave caes away.