Where there’s blame there’s a claim…and, sadly, possibly a little shame!
In the spirit of good advocacy I’ll say what I want to say at the outset – Making a Personal Injury claim is not a shameful activity. There – I said it.
There’s many a column inch been dedicated to the evils of ‘compensation culture’ – so much so that it is hardly surprising that at most first meetings with lawyers, potential clients feel the need to clarify that they’re not a scrounger, often stating “I wouldn’t make a claim but…” – but should it be this way?
Why do many people feel a touch of shame when we consider making a claim for personal injury?
Possibly we feel we might not be believed.
Having been involved in the practice of personal injury for well over a decade, I think I have only ever come across one case of what I would call ‘fraud’ whereby a Client lied about the circumstances of his accident. It was a tripping claim – the alleged accident taking place within a block of flats. On informing the potential Defendant of the claim against them (early in my career and I recall the haughty tones used in the initial letter with a shudder) I was sent CCTV footage of my client on his hands and knees chipping away at the flooring in order to create the ‘defect’ over which he later claimed to have ‘tripped’ (very naughty!). But that’s one case in well over a decade of working in personal injury. We have all read about ‘claimants’ jumping on busses after they have crashed in order to make ‘whiplash claims’ – but again these cases – whilst hitting the headlines – are incredibly rare – they do however make good copy and play well to the Daily Mail mindset. So why do I see the guilt flash across the faces of new clients?
Possibly we’re convinced we’ll be seen as scroungers. Then there is the ‘something for nothing’ brigade that feel guilty that an accident claim is in fact getting something for nothing. But being injured is not ‘nothing’. I do appreciate that we’re British and as such feel obliged to apologise for accidents – even more so if we’re the ones injured and didn’t cause it. I’d be the last to advocate a West Coast of America approach where Claimants claim $50,000 for chipping their nail polish on the photocopier at work – but we must get over this notion that a valid claim for a personal injury is in some way not quite ‘cricket’. Of course it doesn’t help that many firms will target television advertising during the ‘Jeremy Kyle hour’ – to reach the daytime telly watchers who presumably because they’re watching television when most Daily Mail journalists are working, must be on the scrounge for a quick buck (lazy presumptuous thinking on the part of lazy presumptuous marketing execs) Anyway Mr ‘look at me’ Kyle’s show is highly thought of in legal circles – seriously most lawyers have him on Sky Plus.
In closing submissions I must actually pay tribute to my clients; the overwhelming majority of whom are upright, right minded, hard working people who have overcome the perceived stigma of making a claim for personal injury. Clients who realise that if they don’t make a claim they are playing fast and loose with their future and that of their families who potentially stand to lose a great deal if they don’t move to protect their position.
I’m not going to pretend that it’s an easy or quick process; although we do all we can to ensure our clients are supported at every stage. It takes a lot to stand up against whoever caused their accident – it may be their employer, the highway authority or public body. Quite often it is a David and Goliath fight.
So don’t feel that making a claim for a personal injury is akin to passing wind in a lift. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It doesn’t make you a scrounger. It doesn’t mean you want something for nothing. It doesn’t mean you’re a liar. It simply means you stand up for yourself – and that’s never a bad thing – and we’ll stand up for you too.
Stand Up For Yourself!*
The Friendly Professionals
01536 276 300
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