Last updated on December 14th, 2020 at 10:08 pm
Over the last few years, there has been much negative press regarding personal injury claims. Coined phrases such as “compensation culture” are now commonplace in describing the perceived attitude in the UK that many personal injury claims are potentially fraudulent or frivolous. These phrases and their accompanying headlines have had an effect on the general public. Research carried out for the Department for Constitutional Affairs (now formally the Ministry of Justice) in 2006 found that 76% of people believed there to have been an increase in the level of false claims, and the following nine years have done little to dispel that notion.
Both traditional and online media and forum outlets continue to label legitimate claims as false, whilst being all the while ignorant of a case’s facts. A famous example of this involves a woman and her stiletto heel. This young woman fell after the heel of her brand new shoes snapped, badly breaking her ankle. For this injury she was awarded compensation of £7,000 in court after the shoe manufacturer admitted liability for a latent fault in the heel.
Somewhat expectedly, many reports focussed on the fact that the young woman received £7,000 for her snapped heel; a typically simplified view of the case. The claimant had suffered significant pain and had to have three pins placed in her ankle to help her recover. She also lost income due to being unable to work and suffered huge social effects from being unable to play sports due to her injury. As is often the case, a sensationalised headline doesn’t tell the real truth, but it is read by enough people to negatively influence attitudes – perhaps even those of potential claimants. People just like you.
And that is a real problem.
There is an ever increasing amount of guilt amongst claimants and potential claimants. People much like yourself who have suffered injury due to the negligence of others are now suffering in silence instead of pursuing a rightful claim.
What is causing the problem?
The insurance companies
Insurance companies are the ones who pay when a claim is successful. It stands to reason that they will do all they can to prevent claims being made, even publishing material about the damage personal injury claims do – not only to the insurance companies themselves, but the public in general. If claims are made, the insurers are likely to pass on any increases in cost to their customers rather than have reduced profits. This of course sways public feeling against those it should be protecting, those with a legitimate personal injury claim.
The insurance industry in the United Kingdom is big business, with UK insurance companies receiving £46.8bn in worldwide premiums in 2011. Whilst stories of a “compensation culture” are very much alive, did you know that Aviva made full-year profits of £2.05bn in 2013, and added a further 6% increase in operating profits for 2014? This also comes at the same time that personal injury claims in the UK are decreasing – further indication that a reduction in claims is mainly beneficial to the insurance company. This decrease has come, in part or full, due to public opinion towards personal injury claimants being influenced by the media and insurers, something which can have emotional implications to the a potential claimant.
It’s hard to control the feelings of emotion you may suffer through the course of your personal injury. You may notice that they are based largely around fear, anxiety and guilt.
There are many reasons why these emotions manifest themselves in cases of personal injury:
- You may feel guilty for claiming from a certain entity, usually due to feelings of respect or the guilt that this claim makes you a bad person. If you, or your child are injured in a place such as a church, nursery or school, its easy to feel that your claim could directly impact people such as children or the elderly, which is a common trigger for a guilty emotion. Similarly if you are making a claim against your employer, especially in small businesses, the guilt is that you are causing a hardship to somebody who you don’t want to harm/hurt. .
- You can feel anxiety before making a claim, simply from being worried about how you will be perceived for making the claim. This can be especially prevalent if you were injured in an unconventional, seemingly frivolous, way (like the high heel story).
- Fear is potentially the biggest emotional cause of a refusal to claim, and is a common emotion even amongst those who do submit a claim. The reasons it can be felt are varied, although some examples occur more frequently than others. If you are claiming from an employer it is common for a claimant such as yourself to fear being dismissed as a result. Another example would be if you have been injured in a traffic accident where a family member was at fault. The fear of causing a problem within the family can be significant enough to deter you from making the claim.
Dealing with emotions
The first step in dealing with the emotions you may be feeling about your personal injury and potential claim is to think about the impact that this has had on you. Most people suffering emotional turmoil over their claim haven’t taken the time to think about themselves; instead focusing on a perceived damage they will inflict. When, if you really think about it, your claim will have affected you in some of the following ways:
- Missed time, and money, at your place of employment.
- Time and money spent on rehabilitation.
- Emotional stress and damage due to the injury.
- Physical pain and discomfort.
- The impact this injury has had on both your family and social lives.
This is most likely the real impact your injury has had on your life, so why shouldn’t you be compensated for that?
In employment cases, knowledge can be a great soother to these emotions, especially fear. If you are afraid that your employer may discriminate against you, or dismiss you completely due to your claim, then don’t be, such actions are illegal.
Think about this example – imagine you damaged your phone, crashed your car or destroyed a family heirloom/another expensive item of property, you would most likely have no problem with claiming from your insurance. The only difference between this and a personal injury claim is whose insurance will pay out, either way it is still the insurance company who pays.
Refusing to claim only benefits the insurer
Claiming for a personal injury isn’t personal, it’s merely you getting what you deserve from an insurance company. Corporations and individuals pay insurance premiums so that when an unfortunate incident such as a personal injury happens, they are equipped via the insurance companies to see the injured person is looked after. Not submitting your legitimate claim will only benefit the insurers.