Controversial Government proposals would severely undermine the ability of motorists to claim compensation for damaged property and could have far-reaching consequences for personal injury claimants, according to Thompsons Solicitors, the UK’s most experienced personal injury law firm.

Under the plans there would be no compensation for drivers whose cars had been damaged by an unidentified vehicle unless they could prove they had themselves sustained “significant personal injury”.

Creating a “tortuous” link between property insurance and a new legal definition of injury would complicate the whole claims process for innocent victims of hit and run drivers and would have long-term implications for the law on personal injury generally, says Thompsons.

The Department of Transport proposals would mean that only those who had been hospitalised for more than six days would be compensated for damaged property.

Thompsons, which at any one time is running tens of thousands of personal injury claims including road accidents, argues that the amendment is being driven by an insurance industry looking to enhance their profits.

Peter Mulhern, head of serious injury claims at Thompsons, said: “This proposal introduces a tortuous connection between two totally unrelated concepts.

“Introducing into British law a new definition of injury is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It could have serious and damaging consequences for the right of badly injured people to receive compensation.

The department’s consultation paper says that the six days of hospital treatment has to occur within 48 hours of the incident.

Mr Mulhern added: “As a firm with long experience in personal injury cases, we have found that, for example, brain injuries can take much longer to manifest themselves.

“One of the justifications for this change is the risk of fraud, but the insurance industry has provided no real evidence that fraud is on the increase.

“Having whipped up the myth of the compensation culture, the insurance industry is building up a ‘don’t trust claimants’ line. The Government should resist falling into an insurance trap and should abandon attempts to change the law on compensation for innocent victims of hit and run drivers.”