Reformers Press for Double the Damages

Daily Mail (London), April 20, 1999 | Go to article overview

Reformers Press for Double the Damages


Byline: BARBARA DAVIES;STEVE DOUGHTY

INJURY victims should be entitled to up to twice as much compensation as they receive at present, judges were told yesterday.

The Law Commission said the changes, which it admits will trigger big rises in insurance costs, should become law within three years if the courts fail to follow its guidelines.

It claims the move has the backing of the public, who believe current awards are too low.

The advice came the day after it emerged that Britain's burgeoning compensation sys-

tem was already costing [pounds sterling]6.8billion a year in payouts and legal fees.

And it brought warnings that such drastic increases would seriously affect public services and local government and trigger an explosion in U.S-style litigation.

The law reform body's recommendations cover 'pain and suffering' and 'loss of enjoyment of life' from both physical and psychological injuries.

The Law Commission report said it was rec-

damage in a work injury, now worth [pounds sterling]65,000; a 26-year-old man who lost his sight in one eye in a medical accident, now worth [pounds sterling]25,000; and a woman of 34 who had lost confidence after a road accident left her with whiplash, now worth [pounds sterling]3,500.

An average 58 per cent of those polled were said to back higher compensation in these cases.

However, 50 per cent did not support doubling the awards in any of the cases. And the examples failed to ommending damages over [pounds sterling]3,000 should be raised by a factor of between 50 per cent and 100 per cent, which would bring the minimum payments for quadriplegia to between [pounds sterling]180,000 and [pounds sterling]225,000.

Payments under [pounds sterling]3,000 should, however, increase more moderately A total of 3,369 members of the public were questioned by the Office for National Statistics on behalf of the Law Commission about how much four hypothetical injury cases should receive.

These were a 16-year-old girl paralysed in a road crash, who would now be likely to receive [pounds sterling]140,000; a 30-year-old man who suffered brain take into account the increasing number of controversial trauma and psychological damage cases.

The commission said in its report, however: 'The results of the research suggest the majority of the population would consider current levels of damages to be too low, at the very least by 50 per cent, and often by a much larger percentage.

'There is no demonstrably correct answer to the question, how much is an injury worth? …

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