Update On Whiplash Reforms

In the time before the coronavirus pandemic, the government announced a series of sweeping reforms to the personal injury process. The reforms affected all low value personal injury claims, and whiplash claims in particular. The implementation of those reforms was delayed for unrelated reasons before the pandemic, and then paused during the current crisis. However, the government has now announced that the reforms will come into place in May 2021.

The reforms will have a significant impact on how low value personal injury claims are conducted, and on the level of compensation that a Claimant can expect to receive. The main elements of the changes are:

  • The small claims court limit for road traffic accident (RTA) cases is being raised from £1,000 to £5,000. Within the small claims track there is no provision for solicitor’s fees to be paid by the negligent party or their insurers. This means that anyone injured in a road traffic accident, whose injury is worth less than £5,000, is likely to have to conduct their case themselves, or pay their solicitor directly rather than using a no win/no fee agreement.
  • The small claims limit for all other personal injury cases is being raised from £1,000 to £2,000 which puts all other injured people whose claims are worth less than £2,000 in the same position.
  • A tariff is being introduced for whiplash claims, with awards determined on where an injury falls within that tariff. The tariff starts at £225 for all injuries that last between 0-3 months, and goes up to £3,725 for injuries that have lasted up to 2 years. This is significantly less generous than the current system for the valuation of injury awards.
  • There will be an online claims portal, which injured whiplash Claimants will use to run their claim themselves, without the assistance of a lawyer.

These reforms were introduced with the intention of reducing costs and addressing what was considered to be a “compensation culture” when it came to whiplash claims. Motorists have been assured that they will see the benefit of the new system in reduced car insurance costs.

The reforms have been on the horizon for a long time now, and represent a major change to the personal injury process. With a revised start date of May 2021, they will soon be a reality that many injured people will be confronted with when initiating a claim.

If you need advice in relation to any personal injury matters then please contact Fiona Hannaford or call her on 01803 403403.

The content of this article is correct as at the date of posting and is for information purposes only. Whilst we try and ensure it is accurate we do not warrant or guarantee that this is the case, nor do we accept any responsibility in the event that it is relied on. The information is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice which you are recommended to obtain.

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