Road accident victim speaks out against government proposals to increase the small claims limit

A retired Unite member from Devon, who suffered soft tissue damage after he was in a car accident has secured £7,500 in compensation, and has spoken about the need to keep legal support for people injured by the negligence of another driver or their employer.

Adrian Cunningham MBE, 77, was walking across Great Western Road in Paignton when a car turning into the road collided into him, causing him to roll onto the bonnet and land on the road.

Paramedics attended the scene of the accident and confirmed that the impact had caused soft tissue damage in his neck, hip, knee and elbow as well as injuries to his fingers.

For six months after the incident Adrian could not do any voluntary work because of the pain he was in, and two years on he still feels anxious when he is on the roads.

Adrian, who is the former Mayor of the borough of Gravesham and received an MBE in 1994 for his work in health and safety, contacted Unite Legal Services, who helped secure £7,500 for him.

However, government proposals to increase the small claims limit from £1,000 would mean that people like Adrian, who are injured through no fault of their own, would potentially have to take on insurers with costly legal battles on their own. 

He said: “From the moment I first spoke with Unite Legal Services I knew they had my back, which was such a relief. The first-class support I received meant that I had compensation to help me pay for physiotherapy for my knee.

“I still don’t feel as safe as I used to when I’m out and about, but I know my situation could have been a lot worse if it wasn’t for the help I had through my union – help that the government seems to be trying it’s hardest to take away.

“It’s a great comfort for me to know that I still have Unite’s full support even though I am now a retired member, but I worry for how others will fare should these proposals come into force.”

Stuart Davies, South West regional legal officer from Unite the Union, said: “Adrian has campaigned for much of his working life to improve the safety for others, so it’s very sad that he was injured because of the irresponsible actions of another road user, but the thought that he may not have been able to receive free legal support under the government’s proposals is the icing on the cake.

“His union membership gave him to access the free legal support through Unite Legal Services, resulting in him securing more than £7,000 to compensate for his injuries.

“We urge the government to reconsider its stance on small claims, as siding with the insurers will do nothing but line their pockets while taking vital support away from those who need it the most.”