One of the best things about my job as a paralegal in the Industrial Disease department is the clients that we get to work with. A lot of them are going through an extremely difficult time and so when we get to the settlement stage it is such good news, as not only will they be compensated for their loss but it is also a huge relief to them that the process is over.
This is why it is so unfair that many insurance companies unnecessarily delay making the payments that they have agreed to. I can see that this side of things may be a little complicated, often an individual with mesothelioma will have been exposed to asbestos by several different employers and they could all have different insurers. They will share the total compensation payment paid to the client and so they divide it up between them and each send a cheque. However, as far as the client is concerned they have agreed an amount and it should all be settled.
Unfortunately the biggest insurers can be the worst offenders; they delay for months and don't give any reasons for it. It's all the more frustrating as they are huge companies who will easily be able to pay. After they've made an offer there really is no excuse for leaving the client waiting.
While I'm annoyed about the delays and having to chase insurers, it is the client who really suffers. The end of the claim should be a time that they are about to plan for the future and instead, they're left in limbo, worrying and wondering whether they will ever receive the compensation they're entitled to.
This behaviour is particularly difficult to understand when you consider it in light of Lord Chancellor Ken Clarke's proposed changes to the civil costs system. These changes have been made on the basis that Claimant solicitors' costs are too high, and have been widely criticised for restricting access to justice as it will make it far more difficult for Claimants to get the necessary funding to bring their claims.
While bad news for Claimants, these changes are excellent news for insurance companies who will have fewer claims against them. However, in my experience the costs that insurers have to pay could be reduced far more easily if insurers didn't cause unnecessary delays in the first place. Efficient responses on the part of Defendants and Defendant insurers would certainly reduce the costs of Claimant solicitors substantially and have the added bonus of benefiting the Client rather than restricting access to justice.