The world of personal injury law is never stable. 2012 saw a series of major changes to PI claims cases, after ministers decided to tackle the rather fickle issue of Britain’s supposed ‘compensation culture’, a term splashed throughout every tabloid whenever Ministers brought up our illusive addiction to making frivolous claims.
Cast your memory back to May and you’ll remember the radical proposal to change the low-value claims system in an attempt to control
supposedly notorious whiplash claims culture.
More recently came the announcement of changes to CFA’s which could see successful claimants deprived of receiving full compensation if they decide to receive legal advice from a solicitor, in an attempt to reduce the number of people making a claim. This also comes on top of the removal of legal aid which can help clients reclaim expensive insurance premiums from the defendant.
This year will undoubtedly witness more proposals to change currant personal injury legislation. The blame, if any, should be pointed towards inexperienced legal firms and claim companies which have helped create this image of a ‘compensation culture’. Rather than weighing the costs and benefits of each individual claim, it is clear they are more than happy to take on almost any case, and I really do mean any case. From this view, their form of handling claims has become a little ludicrous.
So what 2013 will bring I wonder? In such an unstable legal sector, which is constantly changing and growing, it certainly doesn’t hurt to look to what the near future could bring. To bring a little light heartedness to the PI sector for once, I have been pondering the potential personal claims which could be the norm in the near future.
The top PI claims we could see in the future
1. Space travel claims
This isn’t as absurd as it sounds. Forget sun-soaked days lazing in luxury in an over-water villa, the destination which takes the fancy of the future rich will soon be outer space. Since the first space tourist in 2009, many private firms including Space-X and Virgin have been racing to offer ordinary travellers the chance to visit space. However sitting on top of what is effectively a giant bomb, the health and safety considerations are likely to be a little more extreme than your average cruise ship.
Cruising around Earth at five miles a second, flying around in zero gravity and falling to the ground at twice the speed of sound create the perfect mix for a serious injury claim. However the £500,000 price tag of insurance just to get into space as a tourist should be able to cover it.
2. Driverless car claims
A movement towards road vehicle automation was the most revolutionary development in transportation during 2012, with the likes of Google, Volvo and
all on their way to making the first driverless car road safe. It may not even
be that long before we’re getting into the passenger’s seat with road testing
already being conducted in several European countries, including the UK.
Obviously a lack of drivers behind the wheel will certainly mean the law will need to be changed. Although I wonder who will be to blame if an accident does occur. Will it be the manufacturer for creating an unsafe machine? Or will the passengers become responsible?
3. Android claims
Ok this one is a little less likely than the others. However if I-Robot has told us anything it is that all devices with the power to think for themselves must abide to the rules of robotics and never injure a human being.
Scientists are already searching for ways in which robots can help us around the home. At this point they’re nothing more than a vacuum hoover which knows exactly where to clean, yet I’m a little optimistic that we’re not too far away from our very own mechanical maids.
The day this happens will we be entitled to compensation in the same way we would be if we were violently attacked by another human?
4. Augmented reality injury claims
Not to be confused with virtual reality, augmented reality uses technology to enhance our own world. Last year Google unveiled project glass, its patented augmented reality eyewear, which projects a small video screen which places information over the view of the users’ right eye.
Oakley has also released skiing goggles with the ability to provide users information about the mountain range including their speed and elevation.
This made me wonder how long we could be away from all depending on our eyewear for everyday information. However the idea isn’t all that simple and the idea of a large text message or map popping up in front of my face is likely going to lead to a slip, trip or fall at some point. We could be only a few years away before augmented injury claims become a thing of reality.
With the changes over the past year, it is evident personal injury law is an unpredictable and flexible sector.
Although all of the ideas above are likely to be years away from actually becoming an integral part of our lives, we should always be looking ahead and thinking what we could be taking legal action against in the near future.
About the author: Chris Sutton is a Director at YouClaim, an established legal firm who specialise in all aspects of current law claims including personal injury, clinical negligence, road traffic accidents and employment law. For more information visit the firm’s website at http://www.youclaim.co.uk/.