A MAN injured in Newport road accident last year has criticised proposals from the government to reform 'small' claims initially valued at under £5,000.
Robert Church fractured his wrist and sustained severe cuts and bruising to his face, legs and torso after being knocked to the ground by a van outside a hotel in the city in August.
Under proposals from the chancellor, due to come in next year, the government is planning to alter the limit of small claims, from £1,000 to £5,000.
This, according to Mr Church, would leave similarly injured members of the public in road accidents 'vulnerable'.
“The principle of ‘equality before the law’ is impossible if it is beyond the means of the common man,” said Mr Church, a retired hotel general manager.
“Accidents like this happen every day, but members of the public like me won’t have the expertise or knowledge to fight their own case.
“I was an innocent victim and whilst I have the benefit of education and experience, I wouldn’t have wanted to pursue this case on my own, never mind face the possibility of going to court against the legal team of the van driver’s insurance.”
For any small claims valued at under £5,000, the victim would be unable to seek free legal advice, a possible decision which has shocked the retiree.
“If my injuries amount to a ‘small’ claim, I’d be terrified to experience a large one,” he said.
“Does the government really believe it is right that people who have been through this kind of thing should be representing themselves in what is – for lay people – a complicated legal process against large institutions such as insurance companies?”
“The accident really shook me up physically and mentally, and the photos of my injuries speak for themselves,” added Mr Church, who lives in Surrey.
The changes to the claim limits were announced by George Osborne in November’s autumn statement as means of tackling the ‘fraud and claims culture in motor insurance’.
Gwent Police are currently investigating the incident Mr Church was injured in.