More than 85% of people injured or made ill at work do not recover any compensation, a new report has stated.
The joint report, entitled The Compensation Myth, was published today by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and the Trades Union Congress.
They say the most recent figures, for the 2012/13 year, reveal that around 610,000 people were injured at work, but just 90,000 successful compensation claims were made.
The report also points out that recent civil litigation reforms have introduced fixed fees for employer liability claims – dismissing the idea that solicitors drag out cases for their own means.
APIL president Matthew Stockwell (pictured) said: ‘There is a general lack of understanding about the way the personal injury system works. Compensation claims can only be made where negligence has been proven; not every mishap has a price tag attached.’
More than 600,000 people are reported to become ill or are injured because of their job each year and 25,000 of those are forced to give up work.
The most common workplace injuries are musculoskeletal disorders such as ligament and back injuries, skin diseases, hearing problems, and injuries from slips and falls.
Stockwell said most injured people are either choosing not to claim or cannot prove their injury is due to someone else’s negligence.
‘Unfortunately, employers tend to have the upper hand, as they control the workplace and have all the information on the equipment and systems in place,’ he added. ‘So there will be people who have a need and a right to claim but can’t, which is precisely the opposite of a so-called “have-a-go” culture.’
The report says government figures show a fall in workplace claims from 183,342 in 2002 to 91,115 in 2012/13. Since then the government has changed the costs regime so that successful claimants have to use up to 25% of their damages to pay legal fees previously charged to the losing defendant.
The report accused the government of ‘turning the clock back’ through changes to the law that require the claimant to prove the employer was negligent – causing fewer workplace claims to get off the ground.
‘Where there has been negligence, it is likely to be even harder to obtain compensation than it was in Victorian times,’ added the report.
‘There’s a strong likelihood that many injured workers will be put off from making claims for compensation for their injuries entirely, allowing many negligent employers to avoid making amends, and leaving the state to pick up the tab for medical care and any benefits arising from the injury.’