Friday, August 16, 2013

John Hagan of DPP Law: Law Society’s Fight Against Insurers Warrants Industry-Wide Backing

Brought to you by our friends at DPP Law

The following is an article by John Hagan of DPP Law. Note that the opinions in this blog represent those of the author and do not represent those of either Tim Kevan or of any other writers on this blog

Following a car accident, the insurer of the guilty party often calls the victim directly and offers them an early settlement. The Law Society has revealed that, on average, anybody who refuses this ‘deal’ goes on to secure two-to-three times the offered amount in compensation.
As a collective, I feel it is imperative for the legal sector to support the Law Society in raising awareness of this issue and help to educate the British public on the risks of early settlements.

The Law Society’s campaign, Don’t Get Mugged, takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to highlighting the agenda behind insurers contacting injured people soon after their accident. The agenda is clear – to save time and money (mainly the latter).

An early settlement is pitched to an accident victim as a convenient alternative to fighting for compensation through the recommended legal channels.

The reality is that those who accept such an offer will be accepting a dramatic under-settlement. The agreed amount is unlikely to justify the extent of their injuries and could even leave them struggling to afford long-term care.

Without an experienced accident claims solicitor at hand to judge the figure as sufficient enough for the individual and their new set of circumstances, the ball is truly in the insurer’s court.

Therefore, I feel the Law Society’s light-hearted campaign is absolutely necessary. It is not a direct attack on insurers but instead shines a big spotlight on what is a practice bordering on unethicality.

Don’t Get Mugged campaign comes under (anticipated) fire
Otto Thoresen, director general for the Association of British Insurers (ABI), recently called for an end to the campaign in a letter to Law Society president, Nick Fluck.
Within the letter, he referred to Don’t Get Mugged as ‘a gross error of judgment’ and that it represents ‘little more than public name-calling’.

I’d argue that, if Nick Fluck wanted to, he could have launched the campaign from a much harsher angle and whereas ABI may view the light-hearted approach as ‘name-calling’, I view it as a diluted way of underlining something extremely serious.

Fluck responded to Thoresen the following day:

“I trust you will understand that for the reasons above we do not consider the campaign to be a gross error of judgement but, rather, that it communicates an important ongoing message to consumers. I have no plans to abandon it.”

It is good to see the president holding his ground here and it was also nice to see he offered to discuss the issue with ABI directly.

At face value, the Don’t Get Mugged campaign may seem propagandistic but it is simply an effort to prompt what is an important debate – one which will hopefully see accident victims become unexposed to under-settlements ever again.

Where do you stand on this? Place your thoughts in the comments below and I’ll get back to you.

About the AuthorJohn Hagan is partner and Head of the Litigation department at DPP Law. APIL accredited, he regularly deals with the more complex cases and enjoys nationwide repute for his much sought after legal expertise. 

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