Sorry about that , but I was just listening to the radio and I fell off my chair in shock and disbelief.
And what, I hear you ask, could cause such a seasoned old hard ass like me to simply keel over, mouth gaping open like Cletus the slack jawed yokel?
The Injuries Board, that’s what. Or, more particularly, the head of it, Patricia Byron on Morning Ireland yesterday morning. Rarely have I heard anything so outrageous allowed on the airwaves in the guise of public information broadcasting.
Where do I start? Well, the pretext for all of this was that personal injury claims are up and they’re not happy about that. Now, who pays out on personal injury claims? Yeah, that’s right, insurance companies. So, immediately anyone starts banging on about this subject you have to ask who benefits? In this case it’s definitely insurance companies.
Oh, they’ll tell you that it’s all in the interests of driving down premiums but in between the people who pay the premiums and the people who are entitled to be paid the claims is a huge industry called insurance whose profits are entirely dependent on… well you get the gist.
So they’re not happy and there are more claims, so what? Well the Injuries Board are full of righteous indignation about some sinister and mysterious claims handling websites that they say are driving up claims. In fairness to the interviewer, she asked the question, well if people are entitled to be compensated and they find out about how to do it in this way, so what? Oh no, the Injuries Board fears that such sites are putting ideas into people’s heads that mightn’t otherwise be there at the expense of good old society (definitely not the insurance industry you understand.) (She also said that the evidence that she had of all of this was “anecdotal evidence” – I wouldn’t take a claim based on anecdotal evidence but obviously the Injuries Board think it’s good enough for them to go crying wolf.)
Now all of this might be capable of being listened to without inducing too much nausea or chairfallingoffishness if the Injuries Board didn’t then go on to base the entire thrust of their objection to this whole business on the fact that such sites are not regulated in how they can advertise. This, from the people who brought you the tacky leaflets in doctors’ surgeries and hospital waiting rooms and who defended this outrageous practice on the basis that they are not governed by the restrictions on advertising that apply to solicitors.
And the reason the Injuries Board don’t want solicitors involved? They’ll tell you it’s cost. But the real reason is that claimants who are represented recover more. (A fact that has been highlighted by a Central Bank study on the subject and to which I will return anon.)
As a firm we don’t own or operate claims handling sites or accept referrals from them. We compete with them on the very simple message that we do exactly what it says on the tin: we’re bloody good lawyers who are not afraid to take on anyone to secure that to which our clients are legitimately entitled (and to call out nonsense like this when we hear it.)
There’s a place for people who bring false or exaggerated claims: it’s called jail. Meanwhile, people who are entitled to be compensated are entitled to recover the full value of their claims and to be legitimately represented in doing so.