Is compensation ever enough?
29 September, 2016
As a business primarily dealing with compensation claims, we see a lot of comments or feedback that compensation doesn’t fix things, and in the case of medical negligence some even argue that it makes it worse. We know that compensation won’t get you a limb back, or a loved one back, but it will certainly help you adapt to your changed life.
In the recent case of the Alton Towers Smiler rollercoaster crash of last year, the victims said that ‘No amount will ever compensate the victims’. This is true, they are not seeking compensation to help them magically grow their limbs back, instead they are seeking compensation to show that the failures that led to the disaster are unacceptable. They also need compensation, in the cases of victims Vicky Balch and Leah Washington, to help them adapt to their very different lives without a leg. Whilst the NHS will provide them with as much medical care as they can, the compensation will enable them to get the best prosthetic limbs possible and to adapt their homes/cars etc. in any way they need.
In terms of medical negligence, compensation pay-outs can seem more controversial. Many feel that as the NHS is a free service it is entirely unfair to sue them for medical negligence, as everyone makes mistakes. However, mistakes in everyday life don’t necessarily cost you your life, your job, or anything else, as they do in cases of medical negligence. Yes, they are providing a free service, but if your friend gave you a lift to work and crashed into the back of someone else, causing you serious injury, are you not entitled to make a claim because that was free? Just because something is free doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to take all the pitfalls that come along with it. Negligence may have been an accident or a mistake, but it could be a mistake with devastating consequences for the victim. They may never be able to work again or may become reliant on a partner to provide full-time care. Should they suffer financially because of someone else’s mistake or negligence?
The reality is that compensation has made the world a safer place, if you compare the amount of accidents at work both before and after changes in legislation surrounding health and safety, there were only slight changes. Once ‘compensation culture’ became more prominent, accidents at work diminished considerably. Sometimes only the threat of being sued is the only thing that forces companies to put processes in place. The fear of having their money taken off them is more of a threat than breaking health and safety regulations.
In conclusion, compensation doesn’t get you your job back, or your leg back, or even your loved ones life back, but it can help you get through. Compensation not only helps victims re-build their lives it acts as a stark deterrent to organisations that cut corners on safety in the hope that they will make a quick buck. In the case of Alton Towers, whilst the fine may seem a pittance in comparison to their earnings, it sends out a clear message that health and safety breaches will not be tolerated. This won’t be the end of Alton Towers’ pay-outs either, as the victims themselves have lawsuits in place. Compensation won’t give these two teenage girls their legs back, but it will slowly help them get their lives back following the neglect of others.