The Insurance Industry, the media and certain politicians have brought into existence a very effective myth – The Compensation Culture. We are led to believe that this ‘culture’ is out of control and is responsible for many of society’s ills, including high insurance premiums. These two words have become so widely used that many people now take for granted –
- That it exists,
- That it needs to be stopped,
- That it is largely the fault of lawyers.
But it is indeed a myth.
The Master of the Rolls, one of the country’s senior judges, acknowledged this in a speech in March 2013. He referred to ‘media created myths’ He went on to say –
‘All of this may also require a substantive educative effort on the part of government, the courts and the legal profession to counteract the media-created perception that we are in the grips of a compensation culture.’
The government has showed little appetite for dispelling the myth. In fact they have been happy to promote it in order to help their insurance company friends.
The myth has been effectively used to attack victims of motor accidents.
Now it seems that it is to be extended to those who have accidents at work or who suffer work related illnesses. The Telegraph has recently reported claims by AXA that businesses are victims of – ‘fraudulent injury compensation claims by an employee’. They cite one example!
The reality is that a tiny minority of those who suffer from work related accidents or illnesses, actually pursue compensation claims. One government report says that 85% of those injured at work are not compensated. Recent changes in the law have made it much harder for victims to pursue cases against their employers. Many simply don’t want to do it for fear of losing their jobs.
This is a worrying development. There is no such thing as a compensation culture. It is a fiction. The insurers have used it with great effect to attack victims of car accidents. Now, it seems, they have their sights fixed on a new group of victims.
There is a clear risk that we could indeed revert to Victorian days when it was virtually impossible to obtain justice for a work related injury. The development of Health and Safety Regulations, alongside the right to claim against careless employers has saved thousands of lives in industry over the last fifty odd years. This cannot be allowed to change.