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Whiplash Injuries and Road Traffic Accidents

The Civil Liability Act 2018 sets out reforms which have now been introduced in England and Wales for any RTAs which occur on or after 31st May 2021 and which result in temporary whiplash injuries.

The stated rationale behind those reforms is to reduce fraudulent claims. However, unintended or not, insurance companies will also save money (£1 billion has been mentioned in the Press) because the amount of compensation is being slashed and claimants will be left to pay their own legal costs in the majority of cases. Whether those savings will be passed on by way of reduced premiums or used to bolster the insurers’ profits remains to be seen.

Firstly, the amount of compensation for an injury will be based on a fixed tariff resulting in payments which are much lower than before. For example, a whiplash injury to a neck with symptoms lasting a year would result in compensation of up to £4,000 if the accident occurred before 31 May. Under the new Tariff, the figure is £1,390.

Secondly, the “Small Claims Track” limit for most temporary whiplash and minor psychological injuries arising from RTAs has been increased to £5,000. Therefore, if your claim is worth less you will not be entitled to recover any legal costs from your opponent. (The previous limit was just £1,000).

The exceptions to this are:

  • where the claimant is a child or a protected party
  • where the claimant is a “vulnerable road user” (defined as a motorcyclist, pillion or sidecar passenger, cyclist, pedestrian, horse rider or using a mobility scooter)
  • where the claimant is bankrupt or either party acts as the personal representative of a deceased person
  • where the defendant’s vehicle was registered outside the UK

Unless you wish to pay the legal costs yourself, you will have to make the claim yourself using the new Official Injury Claims portal. Claimants must organise their own medical evidence using an approved supplier. They must then lodge the claim electronically with the relevant insurer and supply full information in support. The insurer will then make a formal offer of compensation, leaving it to you to decide if this is fair or not. If you wish to challenge the offer, you may need to start formal Court proceedings. Noting that the guide being made available to explain the process consists of 63 pages, it is not anticipated that this will be a particularly straightforward task.

Regardless of the nature of the accident and the injuries received, we can offer a free, no obligation consultation to identify how best your claim can be taken forward and whether it falls outside the new regime. If so, you may wish to instruct us to deal with your claim, anticipating our costs may be recoverable. If it seems the new rules will apply, we can discuss with you the options, including our “fixed fee” service to help you with the new process.

For further information please contact Janis Taylor by email at janis.taylor@jackamans.co.uk or call 01473 255591.

This article provides only a general summary and is not intended to be comprehensive.  Special legal advice should be taken in any individual situation.

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