The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has once again called for the introduction of fixed legal fees to halt the rise in industrial deafness claims.
The body says that noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) has become the news “cash cow” for claimant law firms and that insurers are paying out £3 in legal fees for every £1 paid in compensation.
“Introducing fixed recoverable costs is key if we are to get a grip on disproportionate legal costs,” said James Dalton, the ABI’s Head of Liability, speaking at a conference organised by Weightmans on 6 November.
Dalton also said that as NIHL claims usually involve multiple defendants and therefore multiple insurers, the industry needed to seriously explore if the existing Claims Portal could be adapted to deal with multi-defendant claims. He also suggested that there may be a need for a stand-alone portal for deafness claims “to reduce the 17 months that it currently takes to settle a typical [NIHL] claim “.
The ABI says that in March 2014 3,500 notifications for industrial deafness were made to the Compensation Recovery Unit, compared to 1,000 in March 2012. It has also released figures suggesting that the average legal fee that a claimant lawyer received for settling an industrial deafness claim last year was £10,500, compared to £500 for a whiplash claim settled through the Claims Portal.