Legal changes will deny injured workers access to justice, says UNISON

Government plans to increase the small claims limit for personal injury claims will deny many thousands of employees made ill or injured by their jobs every year the ability to take cases against negligent employers, says UNISON today (Friday).

A consultation published by ministers seeks to increase the small claims limit for personal injury claims to £5,000. This means most people involved in an accident or injured at work will no longer be able to seek legal help for compensation against their employers, says UNISON.

This limit will hit anyone left with significant injuries – like the loss of the end of finger or back injury – following a workplace accident, or suffering from an occupational disease after exposure to asbestos.

Commenting on the proposals, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “When an employer’s reckless or careless behaviour causes an accident at work or makes someone ill, it’s only right the employee can try to seek redress.

“Upping the limit for personal injury cases in this way will mean most employees, unable to recover costs, simply won’t be able to pursue a legal case.

“Without legal help, most will quite understandably give up. Cases are complex, and injured employees will be up against their employer who will always be legally represented.

“Ministers say change is needed because there are too many fraudulent whiplash claims made after minor road accidents. But even if this were true, this proposal is misguided and unnecessary. Injured employees will pay the price.

“As well as seeking compensation for injured workers, personal injury claims help keep workplaces safe. Under these proposals employers will be encouraged to take even greater risks with their employees’ health and safety, confident they will no longer be taken to court and held to account if anything goes wrong.”

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