The Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) has undertaken a survey of people who have made a serious injury compensation claim, and their results are alarming.
The survey found that many people who decided to make a claim following a serious injury felt let down by the legal system. Many expressed feelings of a lack of control of the process and believe it took far too long for any meaningful help to be accessed.
Cases of this nature can often take a long time to settle and come to a conclusion, as liability needs to be established and the full care and support needs of the injured person have to be assessed to ensure their life-long care needs are met. However, in the immediate aftermath of an accident when such support is vital (not just for the injured person, but the entire family), access to this can be in short supply.
Many of the people surveyed could not understand why a claim should take so long to settle and around 25% of people did not believe the amount they received in compensation would meet their ongoing needs for the rest of their lives.
Sue Browning, Chief Executive of the SIA commented, “The injury and legal claims process parachutes people who have had total control over their lives overnight into a very alien world. The research was clear – it’s time that the legal system was more compassionate to their situation and put the needs of these vulnerable people centre stage.”
What else stood out from the survey was that only 53% of injured people surveyed received an interim (early compensation) payment to support them in the aftermath of an accident and provide some funding for their needs whilst the claim was ongoing.
A review of the legal system needs to take place to ensure the process is as transparent as possible for claimants and that the needs of the injured person are at the forefront of the claims process rather than no support being offered until receiving a lump sum at the end of the case.
Commenting on the findings, Browning also made clear that there was a distinction in the people who has used a solicitor with specialist knowledge and experience in handling catastrophic injury claims when compared to these who did not. Another major issue was that of communication, and those who felt more negative about the process were those who did not have clear communication throughout.
Clearly, making a claim for compensation after a serious injury can be a stressful situation for someone, at one of the worst times of their life.