Should I Make a Claim Now Given the Government’s Proposed Changes to Whiplash Claims?
The government has introduced several measures to try to curb whiplash claims in the past decade and more forms are coming in the Civil Liability Bill, which will get its first airing in Parliament on April 24. The legislation is intended to force claims for traffic accidents where the likely compensation is less than £5000 out of the courts and into the arbitration system where victims receive pay-outs based on tariffs. There is separate provision for the government to set the pay-out rate for victims of very serious accidents to improve the system and to settle a long-standing dispute between insurers and victims over compensation that the most severely injured should receive. Regrettably it goes without saying that insurers have the ear of ministers, particularly in this government but there is hope that there will be some obstacles along the way not least it being first debated in the House of Commons.

If implemented unchanged, these plans could effectively ban many soft tissue injury claims – and this may seriously erode your ability to access justice when you need it the most. The worst part of this bill is that it has some inevitable and significant oversights. At the moment, so-called vulnerable road users, including pedestrians and cyclists are included in the scope of the whiplash restrictions if their accidents are caused by vehicles. This is despite the fact that the number of fraudulent claims amongst this group is small or negligible.

Currently, the lower limit for reclaiming legal costs is £1,000 – the new proposals raise this limit to £5,000. This would inevitably result in many injured people facing alone the might and wealth of big pocket insurers and their lawyers, without expert legal help or guidance. In practice, it is likely many simply would not bother, and insurers would be left laughing all the way to the bank.   Victims who do have the confidence and financial means to pursue their own claims will be at the mercy of their insurer, who will direct how the claim is managed and decide how much compensation is paid.

If you need help with regards to any injury claim whether large or small please not hesitate to contact GC solicitors for expert advice and assistance on 01462 483800.

By Ben Singh