Results of a MORI Financial Services survey issued today reveals that the emergence of a 'compensation culture' is already here and firmly embedded in the British psyche.
The survey commissioned on behalf of Recover, who aim to become the standard bearer for the personal injury market, revealed the growing need for regulation within the industry.
In what will be seen as a dramatic cultural shift, 72% of British consumers say they would consider pursuing a compensation claim if they suffered a personal injury which they felt to be someone else's fault (such as another motorist, their employer, local council, doctor or hospital). 78% feel that such action is socially and morally acceptable.
The figures are reflected across all socio-economic groups and regional areas. 75% of ABC1/C2's and 64% of DE's say they would consider pursuing a compensation claim for personal injury and 80% of ABC1/C2's feel that it is socially and morally acceptable to do this. The survey clearly shows that the general public holds no qualms about the recent accusations of being propelled into a copycat American world of 'ambulance chasing'.
Respondents were at ease with the concept of challenging traditional authorities. Acceptance of the final say of employers and school authorities appears to have drastically diminished - 74% of respondents agree that if they suffered a personal injury at work which they felt to be their employer's fault then they would be prepared to take their employer to court to pursue a compensation claim. 57% say that if their child suffered a personal injury at school that they felt to be the fault of the school or school staff, then they would consider seeking compensation from the school (with only 15% saying they would never consider doing this).
However, when it comes to the Medical Profession, 48% of respondents say they would feel concerned at the prospect of taking their doctor or hospital to court over medical negligence. Women and older people express a greater reluctance, with 51% of females and 56% of those aged 55+ voicing concern (compared to 44% of men and 45% of the under 45's).
Though consumers are at ease with the idea of compensation claims, the survey reflects the general public's lack of knowledge at the current system.
61% of people feel pursuing a compensation claim would be more costly than they could afford. 68% say they would know either "not very much" or "nothing at all" in terms of how to go about pursuing a compensation claim for personal injury. Over half the population does not realise that Legal Aid has been withdrawn with 56% believing that, in theory, it would be available to help pursue a compensation claim. Although 51% of people say they would enlist the help of a lawyer to help them pursue a compensation claim for personal injury, 34% say they would turn to a compensation claims company.
Respondents were asked what proportion of a compensation award they thought would go to a claims management company in the event that such a company had successfully pursued a claim on their behalf. On average, people think that they would have to pay out around 30% - a good size of their winnings.
Chief Executive and Founder of Recover, John Gorner said:
"The compensation culture is here to stay. The industry needs to provide a caring and highly professional service that can deal with this cultural shift. Lack of regulation has allowed the industry to develop with too many opportunities for the unscrupulous to make money from claimants."
"There is a way forward though. With regulation, an increase in companies who are professional and caring, putting to use the best aspects of our legal system and learning from the problems in the US, we can develop an intelligent and common sense way forward that will protect the consumer."
Recover is a unique new service for dealing with personal injury claims. They provide a comprehensive service that will provide immediate practical help as well as fighting for compensation. They are calling for self-regulation of the claims management industry and will set new professional and service standards that others will aspire to.
MORI Financial Services interviewed a representative sample of 2099 adults aged 15 and over across 195 sampling points in Great Britain, between 19 and 23 October 2000