An appeal on behalf of anybody who will need Justice in the future.
It's difficult sometimes to whip up support for Lawyers; "They're a well-paid bunch of people who are just out for themselves" is a common viewpoint. But I'd like to speak up for a whole section of lawyers who actually aren't just out for themselves. Unlike commercial lawyers, who can charge what they like, or libel lawyers whose clients are the rich and fabulously rich, most personal injury lawyers are working for people who, through no fault of their own, have suffered injury at home, at work or on the street.
They work for the ordinary person whose accident at work has left their hand out of action for a month, six months or a year and stopped them living a completely ordinary life.
They're working for the little old lady who fell over a badly-placed paving slab and whose leg injury kept her in the house and in need of care that she had always said no to before.
They could be working for your son or daughter whose car got side swiped at the roundabout last month and who has had headaches and nausea since then that made studying for university almost impossible.
And they are facing almost constant criticism from insurance companies and (because business is Big Money and Big Money talks) the Government on behalf of the insurance companies because of these actions. They've seen the value of claims being squeezed so that asking for the money that the client deserves is nigh on impossible.
They've faced shouts of 'compensation culture!', 'Ambulance Chasers!' and worse. Now, I know they're not angels; I know lawyers don't do the work out of the goodness of their own hearts, they do expect to get paid, but I want to speak out for the lawyers I know personally.
The personal injury lawyers I know all have the basic idea that they are the Champions of the people they represent. They want to fight for the ordinary folks for whom court and the whole legal factory is an impenetrable mess.
They want, in short, to make sure that everybody who needs it can get justice.
And if that means wading through hours of paperwork, well, they do that. They write the forms, they spend ages talking through the issues with the client, they try every step of the way to make sure that their clients, very often in pain and worked up about the accident, get the facts straight and know what they're up for. And they face a fight against the insurance system with a PR budget second to none, money to pay lawyers without end and a principle that they will not trust anyone about anything. Think; how hard is it getting money out of an insurance company? That's because it's not personal, they're a business. They're designed to make money.
The 'compensation culture' myth they have shouted about so loudly over the last few years is just that; a myth. Fraudulent claims are very often already screened out, mostly by the very lawyer that should (for business' sake) take them forward whatever. The lawyer knows that a dodgy claim will get picked up, and it isn't worth the work beforehand just to get thrown out in court and make no money. That's what no win, no fee is there for.
While the Whiplash decisions announced today have been blasted near and far, a far more insidious point in the consultation document is that of the rise of injuries in the small claims court from £1000 to £5000. That means most injury claims will no longer have access to trained advice in making a claim against an insurer.
They won't just be David against Goliath, they'll be David without the slingshot; a dead duck for the might of the insurers to shoot down.
That means the next accident at work might well be settled by the insurer offering an amount often well less than the claim is worth & has cost to the victim, and the victim having no legal eagle to stand up for them and say no. It might well be cost effective for the insurers... but in a country that proudly claims justice as a right for all citizens, does it seem fair to take the power of knowledge and experience away from the ordinary people again?
Please share this post if you agree; Big business has a Big voice. Will you stand up for the victims of injuries who need an advocate to speak for them?
I have written this very serious post because I work for Peter Kneale Solicitor. We're a small firm in Liverpool that doesn't take any compensation off the clients we represent in personal injury claims because we believe that you deserve every penny you win. If the government changes go through, it will mean people losing out against big business and that's not right.