WOW! IT'S THE UK COMPENSATION CULTURE!
What we in the UK used to call damages, while our American cousins called it compensation, is something I never thought I'd be part of, but in April I had an accident at work and broke an ankle. It wasn't a terribly bad break, but it was enough to stop me working for a couple of months and I still can't play golf...not that I could beforehand really!
On TV I was bombarded with three things on daytime television - Firstly PayDay loans at the amazingly low rate of 4,000% APR secondly so-called financial management companies who will claim back PPI mis-selling fees for (in spite of the fact it only requires a form to be filled in) and thirdly lawyers offering their "No Win / No Fee" services to claim money I didn't even know I was owed from an accident I'd probably not realised I'd had. Well, I remembered my accident and I knew it wasn't my fault and was most definitely the fault of the company employing me so I filled in an on-line form and started a claim.
At this point I take issue with the compensation claims industry. In the UK we have damages, not compensation (as I said earlier), and more important we have solicitors, not lawyers. America has lawyers and although we've imported the compensation culture, we don't have to import the words!
My appointed solicitor is doing a great job and took time to tell me that he turns down 40% of the cases he's asked to take on, either because they're suspicious whiplash accidents, the whole thing is heresay, or the claimant is trying jump on the compensation bandwagon. He mentioned one woman who said she had tripped on a cracked paving stone and when she fell down she broke some of her nails. The major part of her claim was that she'd recently had her nails painted at great expense and wanted money for artificial nails, a complete respray and compensation for the trauma she'd been through. My solicitor refused to take her on, not because of the frivolous nature of the claim, but because he sent one of his secretaries to the street in question (it was local) and found the pavement wasn't paved, it was tarmac. Get your story right!
In the UK, bogus whiplash claims, both the semi-well-intended and the downright fraudulent are costing the insurance companies a fortune every year, all of which is passed on to the innocent car driver who still has to insure his car. One man was eventually arrested when someone who worked in a nearby office realised the same man had been involved in minor rear-end accidents at the same roundabout nearly everyday. He was always driving the car that went into the back of the car in front of him. He would charge a few hundred pounds for his "services" and the driver of the car in front would sue for whiplash compensation. Of course the driver of the car behind always "gave a false name and address" in theory, so the front driver's insurance company would be forced to pay out. Hopefully, now that man has been stopped, the insurance companies and the police are going back through the many claims he helped falsely make and prosecuting the so-called whiplash victims.
Aside from forcing the insurance companies to savagely increase their insurance rates, these fraudsters and dubious whiplash claimants are giving the good guys like me a bad name. Someone said to me with a sneer the other day that I was jumping on the COMPENSATION bandwagon and that my LAWYER was an ambulance chasing vulture. He obviously watches far too much daytime television! My solicitor is too fat to chase anything faster than a tortoise and I'm going for legitimate damages....and I've got a lawyer who'll sue anyone who says otherwise!
Blog on, Dudes!