With the law surrounding road traffic accidents proposed to change in April 2020, those suffering whiplash or soft tissue damage should look to progress their claims before the compensation process changes and becomes more complicated, advise JMP Solicitors.
The government is working to bring The Civil Liability Act into effect from April 2020 meaning that the amount of money people could receive in compensation for soft tissue damage, or whiplash, could be significantly reduced.
Ian Howard, managing director and personal injury solicitor at JMP Solicitors said: “For those with a genuine injury and legitimate claim, The Civil Liability Act could make receiving compensation even more stressful as the victims may have to navigate the legal proceedings without any help, leaving them with a significantly reduced amount of compensation.
“With the proposed Act coming into effect in April 2020, we’ve outlined the main changes to be aware of, so that claimants can fully understand the new Act and its implications.
- The small claims limit will be increased
The current small claims court limit for road traffic accident compensation is £1,000. From April 2020, this limit will increase to £5,000 for whiplash type injuries and £2,000 for other types of accident claims. While an injured victim can still bring a claim, if the injuries are worth less than the small claims limit, no legal costs will be payable, even if the claim is successful, meaning that claimants will have to represent themselves.
- There will be a fixed amount on how much you can receive
For injuries that last for less than two years, there will be a fixed amount you can receive ranging from £235 – £3,910, which is a substantial decrease in what claimants can receive from the current system.
The new law will allow claimants to receive; £235 for less than three months, £805 for between six and nine months, £1,250 for between nine and 12 months, £1,910 for between 12 and 15 months, £2,790 for between 15 and 18 months, and £3,910 for between 18 – 24 months.
- Solicitors fees will not be recoverable
As whiplash claims will now be dealt with by the small claims court, it is likely that anyone injured in a road traffic accident valued at less than £5,000 will be unable to receive representation from a lawyer as these fees will not be recoverable. Injured people will have to pay for legal costs directly or represent themselves against large insurance companies or solicitors.
- Claimants will have to submit their own proceedings
Under the new Act, as well as claimants having to submit their own proceedings, it is envisaged that they will also have to manage their own medical evidence, including paying for medical assessments if necessary and their appropriate treatment before receiving any form of compensation.
Ultimately, the Act will bring huge financial savings for the insurance industry but it will be at the expense of those injured as a result of negligence through no fault of their own.
If you have been injured in a road traffic accident in the last three years, it is advised that you submit your claim before April 2020, to ensure that you receive vital legal and medical support, as well as your fair sum of compensation.
Insurance Edge Comment:
This magazine has covered many cases of fake claims, not just in the motor accident sector, but travel sickness, false workplace injury claims etc. Chancers by nature will continue to try their luck, no matter how restrictive the legal system appears to be. It is right that the genuine claims for injuries are carefully sifted from the fakers, the UK insurance industry needs to have a reputation based on fairness, both to claimants and policyholders.
If you look at the situation in Ireland, where settlements for soft tissue injuries are four times higher than in the UK, and very few people have ever been successfully convicted for making a false statement in support of a false claim, you can see the results of a lucky dip free-for-all. The last bouncy castle business in Ireland closed recently, pubs, clubs and restaurants have closed due to rocketing insurance costs. Childrens play centres are closing down. Adventure activities for tourists are becoming uninsurable, as are many sporting events.
In short a way of life is fundamentally changing, partly because people keep putting in claims for things like falling off swings, bringing your own shards of glass to chomp on during a gastro pub meal, or travelling with family and friends to Ireland to stage a series of fake road accidents. 80 per cent of all motor insurance payouts in Ireland are for soft tissue injuries – how on earth can anyone defend that endgame? That is why the UK cannot go down that `give-it-a-go’ claims road and reform of the whiplash claims industry had to happen.
To suggest that making claimants front up some legal fees for the small claims process is a huge attack on justice is ridiculous – Martin Lewis’s Moneysaving Expert website offers clear, simple, small claims court advice for free, and a costs breakdown, every single day of the week. IE magazine predicts that after April many solicitors will start offering a 25% fee-based service for 5K PI claims, however they may well be more selective in the cases they take on.