As president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, I enclose the following open letter to the insurance industry.
As we gear up for the return of parliament, is it not time we also geared up for greater collaboration to defeat the real scourges of our day-to-day work: needless injury, fraud and the exploitation of vulnerable people?
In recent weeks I have been a part of the personal injury sub-group which made recommendations to the Insurance Fraud Taskforce for its final report, due to be released by the end of the year. Of course we did not all agree on everything, but it was good to get round a table and thrash out some important issues. While doing that, I was reminded that it has only been three months since insurers started sharing data with claimant lawyers to help prevent fraud.
A few years ago no one would have placed bets on this being achieved.
Great work is also being done between insurers and claimant lawyers to improve the way we deal with serious injury cases and rehabilitation.
So why stop there? Earlier this year the ABI published a list of 10 ‘insurance and savings priorities’. It included making young drivers safer on the road. Guess what? We think that is a laudable aim and would like to help – so tell us what we can do to support your work on this.
The ABI list included cracking down on the behaviour of claims management companies. We are all for that. We believe injured people should go direct to properly qualified and accredited solicitors. Some insurers support us in that already. If the rest of the industry were to put its weight behind our scheme, claims management companies could become redundant.
The ABI list also includes modernising the system to ‘get compensation to claimants’. Who could argue with that? Of course, modernisation need not mean the complete dismantling of a system to benefit one party at the expense of all others. It can – and should – mean working in genuine collaboration to help injured people receive the care and compensation they need.
For example, I would like to see public liability insurance made compulsory, to help ‘get compensation to claimants’ where they currently have no means of redress and drive up safety standards. The benefits would be tangible, the costs minimal. Will you support us in this campaign?
We all want industrial deafness cases to be settled more quickly, and I hope the opportunity provided by the Civil Justice Council, at the behest of Lord Faulks, to talk about these claims will be a chance for us to really get to the heart of the issues.
And let us please have less obfuscation about whiplash claims. We all know claims have fallen in the past four years. Compensation Recovery Unit statistics do not lie. Just accept that and let us all move on.
You have shareholders to please. We have businesses to run. In the middle of it all we have vulnerable injured people to help. Let us please ratchet down the rhetoric and get on and do that – together.
Jonathan Wheeler, president, Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, Nottingham