In recent weeks, a number of stories have appeared in the mainstream media that focus on certain types of personal injury compensation claims.
Personal injury solicitors have become embroiled in a dispute with insurers over a sharp increase in accident claims, while the recent Queen's Speech could also prompt a flurry of industrial disease claims. We consider these two areas in more detail below:
At the start of this year, many GPs reported experiencing a large number of cases in which patients appeared to be seeking treatment for whiplash injuries sustained in road traffic accidents that were either greatly exaggerated, or simply did not exist.
This in turn has reportedly led to an 80% rise in motor insurance in the last five years. The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) was drawn into an argument with prominent insurance company Aviva over how whiplash claims should be handled.
Aviva asserted that, with a 32% rise in whiplash compensation claims since 2009, it would be best to let insurers of the 'at fault' driver handle these claims directly. It suggested this would take £1.5 billion off the average annual insurance amount paid by UK drivers.
APIL countered that leaving the case in the hands of representatives of the 'at fault' party would leave the victim in a vulnerable position and pose a serious risk that they would not receive adequate compensation for their injuries.
Its Whiplash Report 2012 was designed to encourage greater cooperation between both parties in these cases, and also sought to disprove the claim from insurers that solicitors are often to blame for encouraging less worthy whiplash claims. The study spoke to 4,000 claimants, and found that 28% of them were pursuing compensation on the advice of an insurer, compared with just 21% who took their cue from a personal injury solicitor.
Both sides have been strongly advised to find an amicable resolution to this debate, in order to ensure only genuine victims are put forward for whiplash compensation.
At the recent state opening of Parliament, the Queen's Speech covered many areas affecting large portions of the UK population. However, the section that will have provided most interest for personal injury lawyers was the mention of a Mesothelioma Bill.
Mesothelioma is a particularly serious type of cancer that is often caused by exposure to asbestos in the workplace. The government appears to be putting measures in place to assist victims of this industrial disease, with Her Majesty announcing: "Legislation will be introduced to ensure sufferers of a certain asbestos-related cancer receive payments where no liable employer or insurer can be traced."
This will allow sufferers to be compensated for their illness even if they cannot trace the condition back to a specific employer or employer's liability insurer. The plans are set to come into force in 2014, and with any mesothelioma victim diagnosed after 25 July 2012 eligible to claim under the new Bill, it is sure to spark a great deal of interest.
Of course, the Bill still has a long way to go before a final version can be released, with its current wording to be scrutinised by the House of Lords, House of Commons and a government committee before it can be passed into law.
All of these debates and pieces of legislation can be confusing for victims during what is already a stressful time. The best thing to do would be to speak to experienced personal injury solicitors about your claim. They will be able to advise you on the likely success of your case, and provide professional support throughout the process to secure you the appropriate compensation.