It's bad enough being seriously injured as a result of someone else's negligence. It's doubly bad if you then cannot be properly compensated for a life that is permanently altered for the worse through no fault of your own
Yet that's the prospect for future road collision and accident victims under the government's shakeup of legal aid. Victims are the furthest thing from the government's mind - their first priority is saving money - £350M/year to be exact - and their second objective is likely reducing motor insurance premiums, because that's where the votes are.
According to The Observer, legal aid 'reforms' will abolish the success fee paid by the defendent's insurer, and will cap legal fees at a level that will make it no longer worthwhile for solicitors to take on complex cases. Simple then - don't have a complex accident.
The proposal is typical of a lot of legislation being rushed through by the present government, in that there's not enough thought given to the consequences. If injured people can't claim compensation, it's the taxpayer that will be picking up the bill in the form of NHS treatment and disability benefit. Except of course they're abolishing disability benefit for anyone who can make mist on a mirror, so the answer is even simpler - don't have an accident.
Actually, I'm only being half-ironic. If the government were serious about reducing the costs of legal aid to injury victims, the logical place to start would be to reduce the number of injuries. Yet they're doing the opposite - reducing the funding for road safety, doing their level best to discourage speed cameras (the most effective tool in reducing collisions), and jeopardizing traffic law enforcement through police cutbacks. About the only good thing that's happening at the moment for road safety is that drivers in general - and in particular the most dangerous drivers - are being forced off the road by high costs. If the effect of legal aid changes is to make motor insurance cheaper, then this will both make the roads more dangerous (by pricing dangerous drivers back onto the roads) and make life more difficult and expensive for the victims.
The other really significant change the government should make to reduce the legal aid burden is to make compensation claims simpler. Currently, there is no presumed liability in road collisions, so as an injured party it's up to you to prove your case - often tricky, as witnesses are not always available and the police spend little time investigating many road collisions. Strict liability would reduce the need for complex legal cases to be made, and would reduce the legal aid bill. Even without strict liability, there is plenty that could be done to coerce insurance companies to settle claims out of court, and to simplify the legal process. Additionally, all costs - compensation, NHS and disability benefits - should be reclaimed from the liable party. If it's wrong for the banking industry to be bailed out with taxpayer funds when things go wrong, the same applies to the motor transport industry, who are currently - as did the banks - making private profits while socializing the risks they create.