Compensation culture and tort reform
‘Compensation culture’bhas been described as ‘an amorphous term’ by Morris.b It is generally used to connote a society in which there is a propensity for anyone who has suffered a personal injury to seek punitive damages through litigation from someone connected to the injury, whether or not anyone was actually at fault, thus implying unreasonable willingness to seek legal redress when things go wrong.
Commentators such as Morris, Robins and Williams have debated the existence of a compensation culture yet, in 2005, the House of Commons Constitutional Affairs Committee
created a new session to investigate whether this ...view middle of the document...
Whilst it is extremely difficult to predict the number of potential claims as against actual claims, accident and injury statistics available suggest that it is far from routine to claim in the employment, clinical or ‘public’ context.
Employers' liability claims
The CRU statistics shows that there were actually fewer employers' liability claims last year than in 1973, despite these type of claims started to increase in 2010/2011 and 2011/2012. If we look at health and safety statistics, the culture of claiming in the work context appears to be relatively low. The Health and Safety Statistics suggests that large numbers of people injured at work do not go on to claim compensation. On the basis of similar statistics, the TUC has estimated that only 1 in 10 people injured at work pursue a claim.
Clinical negligence and public claims
The CRU statistics suggests that while the expansion of CFAs and the explosion of the claims market may have contributed to some notable increase in the number of clinical negligence and public liability claims since 2000, there has not been a sustained surge in such claims in recent years. Instead, the number of such claims has fluctuated. In particular, only 2 per cent of people with some ground for complaint go on to pursue a claim in the clinical setting, when compared to the total number of 'adverse events' resulting in harm annually in NHS. In addition, the Home and Leisure Accident Surveillance System (HASS and LASS) statistics revealed that the number of accidents occurring in public spaces which could potentially lead to a claim is very much larger than the actual number of public liability claims.
Road traffic accidents
-In stark contrast to other types of claim, there has been both long-term and short-term increase in the number of RTA claims involving personal injury. This increase is largely responsible for the long-term increase in all personal injury claims. CRU statistics in RTA when compared with road casualties estimation suggests that majority of people involved in an RTA do go on to seek compensation. Therefore, it seems that there is a strong culture of claiming in the RTA context. In addition, concerns surrounding the quality of RTA claims appear to have a stronger foundation. In particular, the non-demonstrable nature of whiplash injury (which constituted at least 70% of all RTA claims) has always given rise to concerns about opportunistic fraud.
-While whiplash claims is clearly an issue to address, it must be emphasised, however, that a mere rise in claims numbers is insufficient to establish the existence of a damaging compensation culture, as this insinuates that a signiﬁcant proportion of claims are fraudulent, exaggerated or otherwise lacking in merit. We are not aware of any data that would support such a contention.
Much of the current debate about compensation culture stems from this rise in the cost of individual claims. The average cost of compensation...