The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has launched an attack on the time and expense involved in dealing with personal injury claims, calling for Government action to make the process quicker and cheaper for claimants.
The ABI claims that £1 awarded in compensation involves legal costs of 43 pence and that in many lower value cases, legal fees are higher than the sum awarded to the claimant. Moreover, the ABI says, the average time to complete a motor injury claims take, on average, two years to complete while injuries at work cases take an average of three years to conclude.
The ABI pinned the blame for this situation on the unwillingness of claimant solicitors to inform them of the existence of claims before they had investigated the circumstances themselves which, the ABI says, creates duplication of work and leads to an adversarial approach to proceedings, even in cases where liability is not disputed.
Instead, the ABI proposes that claims should be first investigated by insurance companies, with claimant solicitors only becoming involved in cases where the insurance company denies liability. It also suggests that solicitors should be subject to a fixed costs regime, which would both reduce the expense of claims and the time spent arguing about what levels of legal costs insurers will pay.
Claimant lawyers, however, reject the ABI’s claims that these proposals would be of benefit to claimants and that claimant solicitors are responsible for the time it takes to settle claims. A spokeperson for the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil) said: “Cutting costs does not mean delivery of justice to injured people, and any new system must focus on protecting the rights of those most vulnerable. The ABI knows very well that the answer to reduced costs lies largely in insurers’ own hands, by admitting liability early in the vast majority of cases where liability is not in dispute and, having made those admissions, to stick to them. “
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