Justice includes civil justice and compensation
Those who have suffered bereavement and injury—who have already paid a heavy price in terms of emotional devastation and physical pain--should not have to suffer financially as well.
Criminal justice depends on civil compensation. Those bereaved or injured by law breaking drivers are not compensated by the criminal injuries compensation scheme. They must claim for compensation through motor insurance policies.
Surveys of victims have shown the importance of financial compensation
And this should come as no surprise. Being compensated will be more important to many, if not most, of those injured in crashes, compared to seeing the driver be given a fine, a few penalty points or sent on a remedial driver training course.
And civil justice has the potential to help those who are not (yet) victims. RoadPeace has been calling for change to our liability system for over 15 years so that it would be fairer to those walking and cycling. Introduction of a presumed liability system would spark a national debate on the duty of care of drivers, a debate that is overdue. With such limited traffic law enforcement, it is important for drivers to realise that they will be held responsible, at least in civil courts, for not doing more to avoid collisions with pedestrians and cyclists. We believe this is essential before any cycling revolution can occur.
But the challenges victims face in accessing civil justice are many, including:
- Our fault based compensation system means lack of investigation can result in lack of compensation to innocent victims.
- The government’s priority is reducing motor insurance premiums, not ensuring innocent victims are compensated properly.
- To reduce whiplash claims, the government is proposing reforms that will make it much harder for innocent victims to claim compensation. This is very unfair to pedestrians and cyclists as they do not make whiplash claims.
- Bereavement damages are insultingly low in England and Wales—less than £13k and age restricted with no compensation for grown children over the age of 18 years of age.
- Interim claims are often delayed due to a lack of disclosure by police, which then delays rehabilitation.
- Victims of uninsured and untraced drivers face additional obstacles in getting compensation.
- Injured pedestrians and cyclists do not automatically qualify for civil compensation by default, as they do in most other European countries.
What RoadPeace wants
- A fairer justice system that helps victims of crashes recover financially and physically.
- Greater priority given to ensuring innocent victims receive compensation, and are not sacrificed in the government’s drive to reduce the costs of whiplash claims.
- Reform in bereavement damages similar to that in Scotland where damages are much higher.
- Importance of civil compensation included in investigation training with police reminded of role of civil justice. Adherence to the NPCC recommended deadlines should be monitored.
- Victims of untraced and uninsured drivers to receive the same compensation as victims of insured drivers.
- A system of presumed liability, with injured pedestrians and cyclists presumed to qualify for civil compensation.
What RoadPeace is doing to help
- With our legal panel of specialist personal injury firms, we help victims find solicitors who will help them get compensation.
- We represent the voice of victims on the Association of Personal Injury Lawyer (APIL) Consumer Advisory Panel.
- RoadPeace opposes the government’s proposed reforms on small claims and whiplash claims. We campaigned with Cycling UK and Living Streets.
- We have argued in our submissions to DfT on cycling and walking that the government’s insurance reforms should be checked for their impact on active travel.
- RoadPeace is challenging the MIB over its restrictive policies. Heard in February 2017, we are awaiting judgement, but concessions have already been made.
- RoadPeace is encouraging police services to adhere to the NPCC guidelines on disclosure so that victims do not have to suffer delays.
- RoadPeace has previously argued the case for Presumed Liability, with a panel debate on this at our national conference in 2008. Since then, we have published several briefings on it. But we see the government going in the opposite direction and need to focus our efforts on preventing further harm to victims.