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From PFAS to sports-related injury claims, we offer our international experts’ predictions on the opportunities and challenges that the casualty market may face in the coming year and beyond.

Casualty predictions
#1 Regulators around the world will continue to focus on PFAS

Growing environmental concern and awareness of the risks associated with PFAS (known as forever chemicals) will lead to an increase in claims by employees, consumers and the general public. Regulators around the world need to focus on the potential health risks caused by PFAS products both to those employees manufacturing the products and the ultimate consumers. PFAS are used in a wide range of commercial and consumer products such as cosmetics, textiles, furniture and food wrappers, but do not break down in the environment. Additional risks are posed by the unsuitable control of waste material containing PFAS leading to contamination of water sources. Manufacturers are already required to remediate pollution and damage caused by PFAS across Europe and in the US, following events such as environmental contamination from firefighting foams. From a casualty claims perspective, if causal links can be established between exposure to PFAS and personal injury in the US, then discussions around possible injury claims in the UK may follow. However, the prospect of large numbers of PFAS injury claims in the next year remains low, with any immediate risk of UK litigation being directed at damage caused by PFAS environmental contamination as seen in the US and Europe.

#2 The condition of rental homes throughout the UK will receive greater attention

The number of claims made for damp and mould will continue to increase. Landlords need to ensure that any rental properties are in a habitable condition and any repairs are made in a timely manner to avoid the risk of claims being made. Both the UK government and the devolved legislatures have introduced provisions to raise the standards of rental accommodation in the private and social sectors. The continued cost of living pressure may mean an increasing number of tenants are unable to heat or adequately ventilate their homes, leading to the development of mould with consequent risks to health. Reduced budgets of landlords, large and small, may limit the ability to inspect rental properties and conduct any necessary repairs. High profile claims involving fatal outcomes following exposure to mould have raised public awareness of this means of redress.

#4 Increasing care costs will concern those dealing with and funding high value casualty claims

The increases in care costs will inevitably continue in 2024, being reflected in the hourly rates charged for care. It will therefore be more important than ever thatclaims and schedules are challenged where appropriate. Figures from a leading provider of expert witness care reports suggest that hourly rates for gratuitous care have increased by more than 50% over the last 10 years, with basic care increasing from £6.85 in March 2013 to £10.60 in April 2023. Commercial hourly rates fluctuate by region, with weekday amounts varying by £15.00 per hour and weekend ranges varying by up to £20 per hour, with average hourly rates now sitting at £26.23 for weekdays and £28.08 for weekends.

#6 Changes to the civil justice system will impact casualty claims

Further technological and procedural changes to the civil justice system will affect casualty claims. Initiatives such as the introduction of compulsory mediation for civil claims valued at up to £10,000 are intended to reduce the workload of the courts. Although unspecified personal injury claims will not be within the first tranche of claims to be subject to the compulsory regime (no start dates for any part of the scheme having yet been announced), the change will come. Other developments and initiatives can also be expected. We have seen a huge increase in the use of technology within the civil justice system, ranging from the creation of claims portals for certain work types to virtual hearings. These changes are here to stay and we expect further use of technology in the civil justice system to help reduce the workload of the courts.

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