Q: I have been told that receiving compensation for an injury whilst being on benefits can be complicated. I suffered an injury last month and as a result I am currently in receipt of government benefits. I am not sure what to do. I feel I should be entitled to compensation but I cannot afford to risk losing my benefits.
A: During the process of a personal injury claim, consideration will be given as to whether or not the Claimant has received benefits as a result of their injury. It is however completely normal for this to happen and you should not let it stop you from claiming for compensation.
Under the Social Security (Recovery of Benefits) Act 1997, the Department of Work and Pensions introduced a scheme called the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU). Through the CRU system the DWP will seek to recover benefits which have been paid to a Claimant as a result of injury for which they are claiming compensation.
The liability to repay social security benefits is, however, on the compensator and not on the injured person. This means that you would not have to repay to the DWP any benefits you received as a result of your injury. Instead, the benefits you have received will be taken into account when calculating the amount of compensation you should receive and then the person(s) against whom you are claiming would in addition have to repay the DWP.
For example, if your injury has prevented you from working and you have received benefits such as Income Support, then any sum of benefit received will be deducted from the loss of earnings aspect of your claim. The rationale behind this is that no person should be compensated twice in respect of the same accident. A specialist injury compensation lawyer will be able to assist you in processing a claim.