The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has rejected a complaint against a west country personal injury law firm, saying that consumers now have “a general awareness that to have a valid claim there would have to be some degree of fault or negligence by a third party”.
The complainant said the TV advert from Harris Fowler implied it was possible to make a claim for compensation after any accident, irrespective of whether there was negligence.
The advert showed a series of accidents – a wheel coming off a barrow causing the man pushing it to fall and to tip its contents onto a road, and another man walking along the pavement while other incidents occurred around him, including a car driving into the back of a stationary vehicle and a man falling off a ladder propped against a street lamp.
A presenter shown walking along the pavement then said: “Have you thought of claiming compensation after an accident? If you’ve had an accident at work, or a road traffic accident – an accident anywhere it’s your right to claim. You could be entitled to thousands of pounds in compensation.”
The presenter continued later: “It’s no win, no fee … you’ve got nothing to lose and perhaps a lot to gain.”
The complainant, a commercial insurance broker, challenged whether the statement “an accident anywhere it’s your right to claim” was misleading.
In response, Harris Fowler told the ASA that the advert had been on air since 2009 without complaint. It said the wording was not intended to imply that a claim could be made in the event of a non-fault accident – the advert showed ‘fault’ accidents – but “to indicate a generalisation of location”.
In its adjudication, published today, the ASA said it considered that “most viewers would be familiar with the concept of personal injury compensation and the services offered by personal injury solicitors. They would therefore have a general awareness that to have a valid claim there would have to be some degree of fault or negligence by a third party”.
However, it would not always be obvious to a consumer whether or not they had a valid claim in their particular circumstances, the ASA continued.
The ruling said: “We considered that, in the context of the ad and the various accidents shown, consumers would understand from the claim ‘an accident anywhere it’s your right to claim’ that if they had been involved in any accident they might be able to make a claim, and they could therefore contact Harris Fowler for further advice and to potentially pursue a claim.
“The ad said consumers ‘could’ be entitled to compensation and ‘perhaps’ had a lot to gain, which emphasised compensation was not guaranteed. We did not consider that the claim implied compensation claims would be valid even when no fault could be established and therefore concluded that the claim was not misleading.”