A family who received compensation after their children were injured as passengers in a car crash would not have been able to access free or affordable legal support if government plans go ahead.

The two injured children, aged 17 at the time, were travelling in their mother’s car when another vehicle hit her rear side.

Given that the insurers for the other driver could not in any way blame the children for the accident, they instead chose to allege that the car hit the family’s vehicle too slowly to have caused injury. Unbelievably, they also claimed that one of the children was not in the vehicle at the time of the collision, an allegation proved to be false by witnesses.

The idea that road traffic accident cases are straightforward – an argument regularly put forward by insurers to justify a 400% increase in the small claims limit - was shown yet again to be false when they chose to plead Fundamental Dishonesty.

Not only was there witness evidence, but the jointly-instructed doctor in the case said the injuries suffered by the two young men were caused by the impact. Eventually, having taken the case all the way to the doors of the court, the insurance company were forced to settle, after the other driver failed to attend Manchester County Court on the day of the trial.

Tom Jones, Head of Policy at Thompsons Solicitors said: “This was an open and shut case of a driver injuring a family on the road, and yet, despite independent witness and medical evidence the insurers dragged their feet in paying out and threw around untrue accusations. Our injured clients were ultimately successful but how would this family have fared without the support of independent lawyers willing and able to fight back against the insurers’ tricks?

“If the Civil Liability Bill is passed, families like this one won’t have access to free or affordable legal representation - they’ll either have to pay out of the compensation meant for their injuries or try to represent themselves against well-funded insurers who will have their own legal team.

“Even if some adults choose to represent themselves, children under 18 cannot, and will therefore be forced to pay fees that should rightfully be paid by whoever has caused the harm. How is that fair?”

"If the Civil Liability Bill is passed, families like this one won’t have access to free or affordable legal representation."

Tom Jones
Head of Policy at Thompsons Solicitors