10th January 2019
Whiplash accident claims to be curbed by law next year?
GOVERNMENT plans to curb whiplash claims by 2020 is causing concern to personal injury lawyers who say the public will be disadvantaged should the new legislation be introduced as proposed.
The changes would mean the public only receiving a nominal sum for whiplash claims if any.
Sweeney Miller Law is among law firms monitoring the implications of legislation aimed to reform the system which will reduce compensation for claimants, even those who may be unable to work for months.
The Civil Liability Bill has passed through the House of Commons and will introduce a fixed tariff for whiplash damages, complemented by a rise in the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 for road traffic accident-related personal injury claims and from £1,000 to £2,000 for other personal injuries claims, such as public and employer’s liability.
The small claims limit change means legal costs cannot be recovered when the damages are under the limit.
This will result in large numbers of genuinely injured claimant’s being unable to seek legal advice from a Solicitor on their claim and having to go it alone against the insurance companies to recover any damages for their injuries, loss of earnings or vehicle-related damage if their claim is worth less than £5000.
If the proposed changes are implemented, this will apply to the large majority of whiplash claims.
The proposed whiplash tariff is expected to be introduced in 2020 and the Government has proposed compensation figures which would dramatically drop in size.
Currently, anyone suffering whiplash injuries which keeps them off work for 0-3 months can expect an average compensation of £1,750 – that would drop to £225 under the new legislation.
Anyone off work from 10-12 months currently receives an average payout of £3,100, which would become £1,190.
And those off for 19-24 months with whiplash, who currently might receive on average of £4,500, would be looking at £3,725.
Speaking for the Government, Chris Philp MP, said there was evidence the system was broken, arguing it creates a: ‘one-way bet that is the reason there has been such an explosion in claims’.
But for the opposition, Andy Slaughter MP quoted the Law Society’s briefing note, pointing out the proposed fixed tariff of £225 for an injury lasting up to three months was the equivalent to some payouts for flight delays.
This is equivalent to approximately 10% of the current award.
Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon, said: “The bill may well turn out to be the thin end of the wedge for yet more restrictions on justice in all personal injury cases.
“If it passes, it will be celebrated as a great victory by the insurance companies in whose interests it has been conceived and drafted, and it will be ordinary people, whose rights are gradually chipped away, who pay the price.”
Brett Dixon, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), said: “Insurance companies’ profit margins are obviously more important to the government.”
The third reading was approved by a majority of 56 votes and the bill now proceeds to consideration of royal assent.
Sweeney Miller Law solicitor Lindsey Christie said: “This is something the legal industry is watching very closely. It’s a delicate subject but it is important that those who suffer injuries in road traffic accident have the right to win appropriate compensation if they are entitled to it.”
If you have had a road traffic accident, or know someone who has, there is still time to contact Sweeney Miller Law’s expert team of specialists to seek advice on a potential claim on 0191 568 2050 or email enquiries@Sweeneymiller.co.uk.