Firms should be wary of jumping into industrial deafness claims if they do not possess the necessary skill and experience in the area.
The warning has come from Citadel Law, which has said that risk is building up in the PI market as road traffic specialists look for more lucrative areas of work such as industrial deafness.
According to the PI consulting firm’s managing director, Lesley Graves, industrial deafness cases can look attractive because of the fees they can generate, but the specialist legal skills needed to deal with them means that unprepared lawyers, insurers and bankers will lose out in the end.
“Anyone thinking that industrial deafness claims are easy money is sorely mistaken,” she said.
“Our industrial disease specialists are currently experiencing a tenfold increase in the cases that they are being asked to review, with almost 25 % of new enquiries relating to industrial deafness.
“Our reviews have highlighted serious incidents of poor case preparation and under-settlement or failure, leading to the risk of the firms themselves facing professional negligence claims. You can’t pile ’em high and sell ’em cheap in this area of law.”
However, Graves said that the insurance industry needed to do its part to stem a tide of poorly handled claims.
She said that the ABI also needed to encourage its own members to increase their own skills and numbers for industrial deafness cases, so that they could work with claimant lawyers to reduce the time a claim takes.
“Without the requisite skill set within the insurance sector, the ABI’s concerns over rising claimant lawyers’ costs will become a harsh reality,” she said.
James Dalton, head of motor and liability at the ABI, recently told the European Forum on Claims Management that industrial deafness claims were “fast becoming the new cash cow for claimant lawyers, eager to make up for last year’s reduction of fixed legal fees in the claims portal.”