The whiplash reform agenda
As part of a whiplash reform programme, the government is going to make changes to the small claims track for Road Traffic Accidents (RTA). The government’s agenda for this reform was to deter “fraudulent and exaggerated” claims. Statistical data on fraudulent cases is not straightforward and it is believed that the true figure for fraudulent whiplash claims is, in reality, minimal. Critics have argued that the changes will adversely affect those with legitimate claims. Fixed compensation for pain and suffering will see compensation for whiplash injuries plummet from April 2020.
There were a total of 160,378 casualties of all severities in reported road traffic accidents in 2018. This is 6% lower than in 2017 and is the lowest level on record. The government’s conception that a compensation culture exists in personal injury cases is most certainly untrue. Not every accident will give rise to a claim and if it does, the burden is on the person making the claim to prove that the defendant was the negligent party which is not always easy. This is why lawyers are incredibly important when pursuing a claim for injury.
How does the whiplash reform affect you?
If a claim is under £5,000, the Government plans to set up a new, simple online claims process so that injured people can make their claim themselves. On the face of it this seems to be innovative but in practice it means you that you will be pitted against a defendant who has an insurer with unlimited funding and access to legal advice on their side. The government wants to remove Claimants’ lawyers from the equation to curb a “compensation culture,” in the somewhat optimistic belief that insurers will treat Claimants fairly as opposed to seeking to make money for their shareholders.
What is often underestimated when limitations and barriers are put in place for claimants is the trauma, pain and suffering of being involved in a Road Traffic Accident both physically and psychologically. Whilst we attempt to quantify the injury in money terms, arrange a rehabilitation scheme and provide support, this does not change what happened on the day.
The likely outcome of the changes may, therefore, be that insurance companies save money at the expense of legitimate Claimants, who will soon have their damages reduced to a minimal amount, absent of legal representation in lower value claims. Removing lawyers from the equation will only serve to put unrepresented claimants at a substantial disadvantage.
Despite significant protests from interested parties, the April 2020 implementation date is still intended. Officials at the Ministry of Justice were keen to stress that prorogation and a general election will not stop work on this project.
How we can help you
If you have been injured in an accident in the past 3 years, we can usually assess the merits of your claim on a no win no fee basis. Speak to one of our experts and find out more about how we can assist you. We have experience of all types of claim for injury as well as medical negligence. Find out more today by calling us on 01228 739 907 or visiting our personal injury page. Or you can also submit an enquiry to us by using the below form.
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