The government is taking away your right to free or affordable legal representation if you’re injured.

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What do you need to know?

Until recently...

If you were injured and your claim was worth over £1,000 any legal fees for a lawyer to fight for you to get back any wages you lost and damages for your injuries, were paid by the person responsible for your injuries. This was a long established right in the law of the UK, and had been for a very long time.

But then…

The government decided to strip you of this right by increasing the small claims limit.* If the value of your injury claim falls below the new small claims limit, you will have to pay for your own legal fees.

What will happen now?

If you are a victim of injury – anywhere, including at work – you will have to pay for the legal help you need, and deserve, from your compensation or fight the insurers on your own in your own time.

* Previously, legal cases where the anticipated damages for your pain and suffering were less than £1,000 were heard in the small claims court. You can’t recover legal costs in the small claims court, so most people run cases by themselves without help from a lawyer. That’s fine when it’s a dispute over a mobile phone bill or a washing machine, but not when you’re dealing with a complicated personal injury case which might include police reports and will require medical reports and evidence about what happened. The government has increased the small claims limit to £2,000 in all non-road traffic personal injury cases and £5,000 in road accidents. We anticipate that this means 95% of personal injury cases will end up in the small claims court.

Why is the government doing this?

The government says this is all about fraud in road traffic accidents and yet is changing the law so that no matter where you're injured, even at work injured people will have to pay for their own legal fees, rather than them being paid by the person who caused their injury.

Insurers have paid out 30% less in motor accident costs than they did in 2010, saving them over £8bn.

Workplace accident claims have fallen 12% in the last decade.

Total number of injury cases has dropped by 6% since 2013.

The government and insurers say there is a problem with fraud. And yet they paid out 99% of all road traffic accident claims last year rather than fighting fraudulent claims. There is no suggestion of a problem with fraudulent workplace accident claims and yet these changes will affect anybody injured anywhere, including at work.

The government plans to change the law so that the innocent victims of injury will have to pay for their own legal fees, rather than them being paid by the person who caused their injury.

But what are the facts?

Tax Tax Tax

The government has increased insurance premium tax twice in the past year. The insurers have made you pay that.
You paid more.

+14%

Premiums are higher now than they were in 2010, and have increased by 14% in the last year.
You're paying more.

-12%

Government data shows employers liability claims (aka workplace accidents) dropped 12% over the last decade and there’s no allegation of fraud in these types of cases. So why have they been included in the changes?
You lose rights.

 

The government says the new £2,000 limit for small claims reflects inflation, but that’s not true. If they increased it using the Retail Price Index or Consumer Price Index since the last small claims limit increase in 1999, it would only be about £1,500.
You’re losing rights.

So who is paying for this?

The government is due to bring out an updated impact assessment but initial estimates show that the Treasury will lose £135 million. This means we are paying insurers twice – once as taxpayers and then again as motorists.

Oh, and they’ll also cost the NHS £13 million – that’s before taking into account the associated in-patient or ambulance costs.


Who is really benefiting?

Without a doubt, the insurance industry. The government admits the changes will mean insurers get multi-million £s more in profit every year. This is on top of already vastly over-inflated salaries: in 2016, the then CEOs of four insurance companies received packages ranging from £3.38 million to £11.25 million.

...

 

£11,252,370

...

 

£3,381,764*

...

Mark Wilson, CEO

£4,352,000

...

Paul Geddes, CEO

£4,066,000

*(3,932,284 Euros converted to GBP on 30 March 2017)

The government is letting insurance companies remove your right to legal advice and CEOs of insurance companies are pocketing your protection #FeedingFatCats

How are the changes going to affect you?

95% of all personal injury claims will be affected by the government’s changes. This means that regardless of where you’re injured – even at work, the chances are you will have to pay out most of what you recover in legal fees. Unless you choose to make a compensation claim by yourself, without the support of a professional lawyer. You’ll be up against a multinational company who will use a lawyer of course.

This will affect hundreds of thousands of people injured through no fault of their own each year.

The government has said that the changes mean that ‘some’ drivers ‘could’ save ‘about’ £40 on their car insurance premium. But it has admitted publicly that it won’t force insurers to pass on the savings they have said they will make.

And the money isn’t just coming out of your pocket…

The government has announced that implementing its policy will cost the NHS £13 million – and that’s before taking into account the associated in-patient or ambulance costs. Oh and the Treasury will lose £135 million. And their figures are likely to be huge underestimates.

Will my premiums actually go down?

Only two insurers have ‘promised’ to pass on savings, and government is on record saying that it won’t force insurers to pass on the savings they have said they will make.

Now insurers are backing out of their promises – in fact, you’re likely to see your premium rise. They’re blaming ‘fraud’, government legislation and Insurance Premium Tax for the increases. But never themselves!

When will the changes kick in?

In theory, the government could do it at any time from now; they don’t need to pass any new legislation to do it.

However, they have said that they won’t implement the changes in isolation. They’ll include them in the package of legal changes covered by the Prisons and Courts Bill (PACB) which they anticipate will be introduced in October 2018.

Don’t let the government take away your rights and access to justice

Take action! How can you try and stop this?

By letting the government know that you are against these changes, you can help to prevent nearly one million people a year from losing their right to legal protection.

Lobby Liz

Click here to send an automated tweet to Liz Truss, Secretary of State for (In)Justice, saying that you are against the government’s proposals.

Write to your MP

Click here to send a pre-drafted email to your MP, opposing the changes to the small claims limit. Simply copy and paste the content into your email client.

You can find the contact details for your local MP here.

Sign the e-petition

Sign the e-petition ‘Keep the Personal Injury Small Claims Limit at £1,000.’

At 10,000 signatures, the government will respond to the petition.

At 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.

Keep up to date

Watch now to find out what happened when Santa and his Elves travelled all over London to gift insurers with their early Christmas presents, and learn how the government's plans will affect you.

Read the latest news articles, press releases and factsheets relating to the #FeedingFatCats campaign:

The #FeedingFatCats campaign is run by Thompsons Solicitors.