It’s difficult working in personal injury sometimes. The personal injury profession just seems to get a great deal of bad press.
In the United Kingdom, many people are faced daily with sensationalist stories of the so called ‘compensation culture’ whilst simultaneously in the US, the lawsuit culture seems to create a constant fear of legal action being taken against anyone who puts a foot out of place. This leads to doctors being paranoid and principles being powerless.
The question is though is this: Is there really a problem with our two societies, or will people always expect compensation for wrong-doings against them?
Realistically it’s a bit of both.
In the United States, back in 1994, a famous lawsuit was initiated against McDonald’s by a woman who burnt herself after spilling a cup of coffee. She put the drink in between her legs with the lid removed in order to add sugar and cream. When she sustained third degree burns to have pelvic region, she launched a compensation claim against McDonald’s for failing to provide adequate warning that the temperature of her coffee would be quite so high.
Many people thought that $160,000 in compensation that she received for the medical bills was a bit much. However, the real clincher was the $2.7 million she received in punitive damages.
Coming forward 15 years or so and jumping landmasses to the United Kingdom, and a woman has won £3,500 in a whiplash injury compensation claim for a road traffic accident which occurred at 5 mph. This may be a smaller amount of money, but the ludicrously frivolous compensation claim represents just one of the 1,500 whiplash inquiries made each day in the United Kingdom.
Less than 4% of personal injury claims and lawsuits are so frivolous.
The media pick up on stories like the ones above and create a negative image for the personal injury field. The fact is that some figures show that less than 4% of personal injury claims and lawsuits are so frivolous. This means that there is a lot of good work going on in the personal injury field, meaning an entirely disproportionate amount derision goes towards people doing their job well.
Speaking of doing your job well, the media make sensationalist stories in order to sell newspapers and so they can hardly be blamed either, it’s a big shame that personal injury practitioners take the brunt. As things get out of hand, politicians discuss changes in law in order to make personal injury legislation better. Apparently though, politicians often fail to take into account that public pressure for change is created by media sensationalism putting skew on the reality of the situation.
While it is true that more accountability needs to be seen by the general public and we as a species need to be more responsible and more careful that our actions do not harm others, it’s also true sometimes people are negligent. It doesn’t matter what the government does to adjust the laws and the way they work. The situation is that people are always going to be inconsiderate and harm others and, irrespective of how the laws work or how they’re shuffled around, people will always have an axe to grind.
About the Author: Jim Loxley is a Director for road traffic accident claims specialist, My Compensation. My Compensation is a London-based firm which services all of the United Kingdom. The company deals in other types of personal claims too, offering free consultations to new clients.