Britain’s “compensation culture” is a myth, according to a firm of personal injury solicitors.
Research by Hubbard, Pegman & Whitley on workers’ expectations for workplace injury awards claims the majority have modest expectations for compensation after injuries at work, casting doubt on the claim Britain has a compensation culture.
HPW said its own experience is that people often stoically avoid seeking compensation for injuries, even for modest amounts, in case they are made redundant as punishment by their employer.
The research claims to reveal that while more than 90 per cent expect some form of monetary compensation after an injury at work, people typically under-estimate how much they would receive and very few over-estimate, even though awards can be surprisingly modest.
As an example, the typical compensation awarded for an arm fractured at work is in the region of £6,000 (£4,000 for the injury and around £2,000 for loss of earnings for an average earner), but 44 per cent of adults expected £2,000 or less, 61 per cent estimated under £5,000 and only four per cent would expect a bumper payout of more than £10,000.
The typical compensation awarded for permanent blindness in one eye from an injury at work is at least £31,500 (with additional sums for loss of earnings while recovering and further compensation, set by the court, for the impact on the victim’s lifestyle), but 27 per cent of adults expected £20,000 or less and only 21 per cent would expect a significantly higher payout of more than £100,000.
Only for very serious injuries did people, expect very substantial compensation. The typical compensation awarded for permanent loss of the use of both legs from an injury at work is at least £140,000 and generally substantially higher (depending on loss of earnings and effect on lifestyle), but 20 per cent of adults expected £100,000 or less, while 42 per cent expected more than £200,000, which in most cases people would get.
Charlotte Pegman, managing partner of HPW said: “Not only are most compensation awards unspectacular, but most people actually have very modest expectations – typically in line with average awards or even expecting substantially less. Our research indicates to us that most people only want fair and reasonable compensation when they are injured at work. While large compensation awards for seemingly minor injuries and slights rightly attract hostile media attention, the reality is that awards for most workplace injuries – often nasty ones – are generally much more modest.
“In fact, our experience is that British people are often too stoic – failing to claim compensation as they are worried about losing their job, even in the case of injuries causing permanent disablement.
This trend is likely to increase in the current economic environment as workers, often those on low income manual jobs, worry that they will not get a replacement job if they are made redundant as punishment for claiming compensation for an injury.”
HPW’s research was carried out by YouGov and based on a representative sample of about 2,000 people.