Personal Injury Reforms
Published: 10th March 2017
Just last month, the Government announced changes to personal injury small claims, in particular car accident whiplash claims. These reforms will come into effect from 1 October 2018.
Having been no change to the personal injury small claims limit since 1991, these reforms raise the small claims limit for personal injury from £1,000 to £5,000 in for road traffic accidents. For all non-road traffic personal injury matters, the small claims limit will rise from £1,000 to £2,000. This means that if you use a solicitor for the claims, almost none of the costs will be paid by the Defendant.
This reform also removes injuries for minor whiplash claims and introduces a new tariff system for more significant whiplash claims where the injury lasts of up to 24 months. This new tariff system will apply to people injured while using or being carried in a motor vehicle, other than a motorcycle, and the new tariff system will mean that the damages figure for soft tissue injuries will never cross the £5,000 damages threshold unless the injuries are very serious.
The figures are:
|Injury Duration||2015 average payment for injuries||Judicial College Guideline (JCG) amounts (13th edition) Published September 2015||New tariff amounts|
|0–3 months||£1,750||A few hundred pounds to £2,050||£225|
|4–6 months||£2,150||£2,050 to £3,630||£450|
|7–9 months||£2,600||£2,050 to £3,630||£765|
|10–12 months||£3,100||£2,050 to £3,630||£1,190|
|13–15 months||£3,500||£3,630 to £6,600||£1,820|
|16–18 months||£3,950||£3,630 to £6,600||£2,660|
|19–24 months||£4,500||£3,630 to £6,600||£3,725|
Already changes have been made to the small claims limit for other losses other than the injury itself. This limit has already been increased to £10,000. What this means is that, following these changes, a person who has suffered a soft tissue injury lasting 2 years, but has lost less than £10,000 in earnings, will not likely be able to find a solicitor who can take their case on a no-win-no-fee basis. Even if a solicitor is willing to act, it will be classed as a ‘small claims’ matter by the Courts, meaning that the injured person will have to pay their own legal costs, even when they win their case. These changes will have a significant impact on people who have been injured through no fault of their own and such victims will likely find themselves out of pocket, even after pursuing a personal injury claim.
Over the past 7 years, the government has introduced a range of measures that have reduced the cost of such claims significantly. Despite repeated promises from insurers that reform of this sector will result in lower insurance premiums for motorists, drivers have yet to see any meaningful reductions in their premiums.
The government has said it plans to monitor the impact of these reforms on the cost of motor insurance, with the hope that the savings made will benefit motorists. Unfortunately, the government has no means of actually ensuring that insurers will reduce premiums. In fact, due to other changes to the way compensation payments are calculated for Claimants with serious, life-changing injuries, insurers have already announced that they plan to increase insurance premiums significantly. It is therefore clear that, despite these reforms, motorists will find that they are paying significantly more for insurance than before, whilst injured people will be left without any means to pursue a claim for their injuries and losses.
To learn more about these reforms, or to find out more about the services that Liddy’s provide simply call us on 01226 731 314.