New government crackdown on ‘Whiplash Claims’ may impact upon the right to compensation for serious injury claims
Whilst Brexit has occupied the vast majority of parliamentary business the Government has found time to pass the Civil Liability Act 2018, that is due to come into force April 2020, which is likely to be an end to what public perceive to be the ‘compensation culture’ and the continuous cycle of whiplash claims which are seen to be clogging up the insurance system.
What does the crackdown mean to drivers and passengers injured on the road?
The Act has controversially introduced ‘fixed general damages’, for those suffering common whiplash injuries within the two-year bracket. Under the new regime the new awards will be considerably lower than the current amounts, which are paid out by insurers currently dealt with by reference to past cases.
Now there is going to be a ‘tariff’ of injury claim awards, with injuries lasting many months attracting compensation of just £225 as compared to the average payout currently which is £2,500.00
They are also intending to increase the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 for road traffic accidents and to £2,000 for all other personal injury claims. This means that there will be no access to lawyers to deal with claims considered by the courts to be lower than these amounts.
How does it affect claims generally?
This now means, those who are claiming for injuries that are typically placed around this figure, will now find it difficult to pursue a claim and there will be little to no route to pursue claims other than on one’s own.
Although these reforms are aimed to eradicate the sometimes fraudulent whiplash claims as well as reduce the cost of litigation for insurers, this is unfortunately failing to consider the impacts it will have on innocent injured individuals who have suffered injuries through no fault of their own.
Will the changes impact upon claims for individuals who have suffered serious injuries?
Most commentators believe that the personal injury system will be revolutionised, as many of the organisations who have made gains by pursuing relatively minor injury claims will find it difficult to continue to act, whilst the injury solicitors used to running serious injury cases through the courts will take up the slack.
It is hoped that although the unwelcome minor whiplash claims may well disappear, this will not stop those injured through no fault of their own often experiencing life changing and career threatening injuries will still have the access to justice they deserve.