Reforms to personal injury road traffic accident claims set to go ahead
Author: Jane Penman
New legislation on whiplash claims has passed through the House of Commons. The Civil Liability Bill introduces a fixed tariff for whiplash damages and will be complemented by a rise in the small claims limit to £5,000 for road traffic accident claims.
Alongside personal injury lawyers, Labour had opposed the changes, which are expected to come into effect from April 2020.
In essence, this means that any injuries sustained by a person in a non-fault road traffic accident will have to be valued at over £5,000 in order for legal fees to be recoverable by their solicitor from the third party Insurers.
Jane Penman, partner and a personal injury solicitor at Russell & Russell, commented: “While everyone on both sides is keen to see a reduction in the number of bogus whiplash claims, these changes will mean genuine Claimant’s injured through no fault of their own will struggle to get justice.
“The fact that legal fees are no longer recoverable for claims valued under £5,000 leaves the client with the dilemma of taking the bold step of representing themselves through the legal process. There is also a concern amongst the legal profession that Claims Management Companies will seek to act on behalf of Client’s whilst deducting substantial fees from the Client’s limited damages that can be recovered under the fixed fee tariff.
“There’s also a very real chance genuine accident victims will decide not to pursue a claim, leaving them to deal with not only the physical consequences of their accident, but also any financial implications as well.
“Everyone involved – the government, the insurance industry, personal injury lawyers – are painfully aware that there are people who will fiddle the system no matter what and no one wants to see this happen. But there are far more people who have genuine injuries and it’s these people who will pay the price of the uplift because it’s these people who will be denied access to justice.”