The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) released a leaflet back in June 2019 discussing some of the common problems and misunderstandings of personal injury claims. Many people in the UK are of the opinion that personal injury claims are out of hand and are costing the NHS, employers and the taxpayer too much. Others believe that anyone who is inured at work or under the care of a hospital or health service should be compensated appropriately to help them deal with the consequences. Here we will look at a few of the more interesting points in the article that explain a bit more about the reasonings behind the way injury claims work.
Patients Must Not Be Blamed For Being Injured
The first point the article made was that many people consider people that claim, especially from the NHS, are ungrateful and shouldn’t be ‘biting the hand that feeds’ as it were. In other words, in the case of the NHS, if they have cared for you, you shouldn’t then sue them when they get something wrong. APIL make the point that claims are only successful in situations of negligence. If a doctor makes an honest mistake that costs the patient their health or worse their life, if it was a genuine accident and all procedures were followed correctly then thats ok, but in the cases of personal injury claims it is always negligence that is the deciding factor. If a doctor fails to follow procedure or deliberately cut corners and it has a detrimental affect on the patients health, they are directly responsible and therefore should pay the compensation. Much like in a car accident, if someone is obeying the laws of the road and someone hits them over the speed limit or driving recklessly, the reckless driver would have to pay but the one following the law does not. This is one of the most common problems people have with personal injury claims.
Personal Injury Claims Put The NHS In Danger Financially
Another argument people put forward is that the amount of personal injury claims made against the NHS means it may have to shut down or neglect funding other areas. APIL pointed out this is probably the most ridiculous of the myths surrounding personal injury claims. The money spent on compensation by the health service is a fraction of the total NHS budget. In 2017/18, clinical negligence compensation claims contributed to only two per cent of the total annual spend on healthcare.
Cheaper To Kill Than Injure
One of the more alarming statistics from the APIL leaflet was the fact that in the UK it is often cheaper, in terms of compensation, if someone dies than if they were seriously injured. This is because there are no ongoing costs involved with a death, whereas if someone is crippled by some form of clinical negligence then the responsible party are required to pay things like the loss of earnings, the cost of medical treatment, as well as adaptations to their home lives (stairlifts, wheelchairs etc). A statutory sum of £12,980 can be claimed by UK residents in the case of a death, this is provided to help reduce the burden on the deceased’s family, however this can only be claimed if the family member is a spouse, a fiancé, or has a child (younger than 18) to look after. If a person’s partner, who they live with, dies but they are not married or engaged then they cannot receive this money. Many argue this is unfair on couples that live together but have no plans of marrying, given cohabitation is the fastest growing family type in the UK.
The Mind Can Break Too
When people consider medical negligence claims they are more likely to think about gruesome surgical mishaps or mistakes in application of medicine causing a patient direct injury. However, a lot of compensation claims these days come in the form of psychiatric injuries. Often people who go through a traumatic event are left scarred for life, suffering from flashbacks, anxiety or guilt, often resulting in self-destruction and the feeling of being alone in their struggles. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, adjustment disorder, agoraphobia, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are all examples of psychiatric disorders.
There Are Many More Cases Of PTSD Than Just War Veterans
Post-traumatic stress disorder is often spoke about in people who have suffered injuries or seen injuries inflicted on the battlefield. This isn’t the only cause of PTSD, people can suffer from PTSD for a variety of reasons. For example, one case study of a mother who survived a gas explosion but watched as her young daughter died, displayed symptoms synonymous with PTSD. The mother is no longer able to work full time and her husband who rushed back from work 50 miles away to find his daughter already dead, also suffers from PTSD and can no longer travel or stay away from the family out of guilt for not being there. Similarly, another case study this time of a scaffolder who watched his colleague get crushed to death by falling ruble also was diagnosed with PTSD. The scaffolder had recurring nightmares, flashbacks triggered by noises and smells and actively avoided sleeping for fear of being crushed. His relationships broke down, he began drinking and before long he had to move back in with his retired parents. This just shows the extent of psychological damage that can be caused by negligence.
These were just a few of the interesting discussion points drawn from the APIL report, if you would like to see more or just want to read the full leaflet yourself then you can do so here: https://www.apil.org.uk/files/campaigns/reality-check.pdf