Inter Law – Insurance Premiums not affected by rise in Personal Injury Claim

Those paying monthly insurance premiums should not be affected by an increase in claims revealed an industry expert.

Colin Ettinger, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, said: “Whenever there has been an investigation into whether or not increases in insurance premiums have been down to rises in the number of claims the answer has always been no.”

He added that an investigation by the Department for Work and Pensions and the Office of Fair Trading came to the conclusion that hardening of the stock market has forced insurance companies to increase their premiums.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) claim that the rise in premiums does not necessarily equal a rise in profits.

Jane Milne, of the ABI, said: “Certainly premiums have risen over the last few years but even in 2003 insurers paid out £1.10 for every pound they collected and we are still seeing claims costs rise between 12% and 15% a year.

“Forty pence of every pound that insurers payout goes to either legal or medical advisers.”

Small business are thought to be one group to feel the squeeze from growing numbers of claims.

Stephen Alambritis, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “There are a lot of cases of small businesses who are not taking risks, in terms of acting entrepreneurially, and employing people that they would normally take because of this problem.

“They are worried about these personal injury lawyers who incite people to take companies to court as they are often seen as a soft target.”

The ex- Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, also asked claims firms to refrain from encouraging the population from taking legal action for “frivolous claims”.

Mr Ettinger said: “Government information has shown that the levels of claims that have been brought forward in the last 12 months have actually dropped. That includes public liability as well as accidents at work and road traffic cases.”

He added: “I would like to say why don’t these companies make their workplaces safer so a lot of these claims don’t happen?”

A personal injury claim can made for a variety of reasons. These can include tripping over, car accidents, whiplash and work-related stress. In order to pursue a claim it has to be shown that whoever is being sued has acted negligently and the an injury resulted because of this carelessness.

There are two types of damages that can be claimed for: Special Damages and General Damages. Physical and mental injury come under the general damages category and they have to be proved by a medical examination.

Financial costs are included in special damages and include loss of earnings and expenses.

Following a medical examination and input from experts the opponents solicitors are contacted to see if they accept liability for the injury. A settlement is reached if they do and damages are paid.

The help of a solicitor is normally needed to guide the claimant through this procedure. When taking action for personal injury legal aid is not normally an option although many firms offer a ‘no win no fee’ kind of contract.

Claims rarely reach court and have to be started within three years of the injury occurring.

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