In his Autumn statement the Chancellor of the Exchequer revealed plans to increase the personal injury small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000. In short, this means that if you have suffered personal injuries which are not valued at more than £5,000 you will recover only limited legal costs and so if you want to pursue a claim you will probably need to do so without legal representation via the small claims court
The main driving force for this is to control whiplash claims and thereby reduce the insurance premiums paid by motorists (we’ll see about that!). It is not clear if this will be applied across the board and encompass medical negligence claims and if the driving force is to control motoring insurance premiums for public companies then we strongly disagree that it should however if it does it will be another kick in the teeth for victims injured through the negligent acts or omissions of those they have put the utmost trust in.
For example, someone who suffers a seemingly straightforward collapsed lung through the negligent placement of a needle would struggle to bring a claim as on the face of it the injuries they had suffered would appear minor and probably not worth compensation of £5,000 and therefore the injured patient would not be able to afford the legal representation they require. If they go it alone, how would they prove that the needle had been inserted negligently? How do they prove what the ill effects of that negligent treatment are and how can they be sure that they are not at risk of future complications?
The onus is on the Claimant to prove their case and without having access to expert legal representation genuinely injured patients are at risk of being unable to pursue a claim. Not everyone has the ability to do this on their own or for themselves – I’m sure that many of us could try and swot up on how to fit a new bathroom or plumb in a toilet and yet plumbing is a thriving business because most of us want to make sure the job is done properly and so we approach an expert to do the job for us. There really isn’t any difference.
At Armstrong Foulkes we consider all types of medical negligence claims. We have helped many injured patients over the years who have suffered low value injuries however the ability to get justice or an acknowledgement of what happened is usually priceless.
There is no set date by which the limit will rise but if you are concerned about medical treatment you have received which you believe has caused or worsened an injury please get in touch.
Ashleigh Holt – January 2016