UNITED KINGDOM: Claims for compensation halved in 10 years

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It is often said that the culture of compensation is spreading in the United Kingdom. This misbelief is demolished by the report entitled “The Compensation Myth”, published by the TUC and the APIL. This report shows that claims for compensation have declined by more than 50%: from 183,342 in 2002/2003 to 91,115 in 2012/2013. Moreover, more than six job injury victims out of seven (85.7%) receive no compensation.

Despite the decline in the number of cases brought before the courts by employees, the government is making it even harder to take legal action against the employer for negligence, by exempting the latter from the onus of proof and by increasing the costs for employees who want to make their cause heard.

Each year, 500,000 employees suffer an occupational disease, and 110,000 suffer an occupational injury. But only 90,000 of them manage to obtain compensation from their employer. The most common diseases and injuries are back problems, MSD, injuries caused by falls and slips, skin diseases and hearing disorders.

The report destroys another misconception regarding the amount of compensation. Analysis of around 64,000 claims brought in 2011 shows that most of the victims received less than £5000.

Contrary to the practice in other countries, the compensation paid in the United Kingdom is based strictly on what the claimant has lost. It is designed to compensate the actual loss and covers pain and suffering, lost earnings and future losses, all this being calculated to the smallest penny in order to place the victim back in the situation in which they were before the loss.

The report makes the following proposals to cut costs without unnecessarily penalising the victims:

  • Employers should stop acting negligently. Insurance companies could tie the amount of the premium more closely to the real risk in certain sectors and set premiums that reflect the employer’s occupational health and safety record;
  • In cases of OIs/ODs, the employer should see to it that the victim may immediately undertake appropriate readaptation to increase their chances of a fast and complete recovery;
  • Insurance companies should swiftly recognise their responsibility – when it is justified – and comply with the court decisions so as to avoid pushing up medical and legal expenses.

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