Are personal injury claimants vulnerable to “fickle” insurers?

Guest PostFickle InsurersA recent case in which an insurer attempted to make changes to a claim for a road traffic accident based on a change of heart on admission of liability has highlighted how vulnerable claimants can be to the whims of insurers.

In many cases claimants will deal with a number of different representatives from their insurance provider, making them exposed to changes in personal opinion – one insurer may want to approach the claim in one way, but another individual at the same company may have a very different view, and if they become the lead representative on the case it can cause real issues for claimants.

In the case mentioned above a recent applications to resile from an admission of liability was rejected by the court. The application was rejected for many reasons including the fact that no new evidence had come to light and the main crux of the accident was that liability had merely been mistakenly admitted.

As well as this there was no evidence to suggest that a claimant had been deliberately misleading, and as the claimant’s accident occurred more than three years ago – the standard time limit for making a claim – they would be left unable to claim the compensation they are entitled to should the claim in progress suddenly change track.

The judge in the case ruled in favour of the claimant and agreed that should the claim be stopped it would leave the claimant in less than ideal position.

This was clearly the right decision and it is positive to see the legal system veering on the side of claimants, who are the victims. The case also shows that claimants can be at the mercy of insurance firms – their case may be moved from person to person, and this could change its focus considerably.

More must be done to ensure that claimants are protected, and that the original focus and drive of the case remains in place regardless of who ends up handling the case. It is extremely unfair on claimants when insurers attempt to change their mind with no new evidence. It can happen when a file changes hands within an insurer and a new file handler takes a more bullish approach, for example.

McHale & Co is a full service law firm based in Altrincham, Cheshire, with expertise in family law, criminal defence, civil litigation, motoring offences and business crime.

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