Whiplash Reforms – How will they affect you?

Posted on 14th July 2020

The rules on whiplash claims are changing. From April 2021, anyone injured in a Road Traffic Accident will not be able to instruct a solicitor if their claim is worth £5,000 or less. It means that time is quickly running out to make a compensation claim for whiplash injuries with an expert solicitor by your side.

What is a whiplash injury?

If you have ever been involved in a road traffic accident and suffered whiplash as a result, you will know it is a genuine injury which can cause severe pain and potentially have a long-term effect on your health.

Whiplash is an ‘injury of soft tissue in the neck, back or shoulder that is… a sprain, strain, tear, rupture or lesser damage of a muscle, tendon or ligament in the neck, back or shoulder, or an injury of soft tissue associated with a muscle tendon or ligament in the neck, back or shoulders.

What are the Whiplash Reforms?

The whiplash reforms were first proposed in 2015 with the aim of making it harder for people to claim compensation for exaggerated or fraudulent whiplash claims. It is right that we try to deter a minority of cases where injuries are exaggerated but the majority of cases are genuine and sadly the negative media has created an unfair stigma around seeking damages in such cases.

The government plans to introduce changes to the personal injury claims process. The changes will affect the amount of compensation claimants receive and include:

  • The small claims limit increasing from £1000 to £5000 for road traffic accidents
  • Reducing compensation for the injury by setting a fixed amount payable for injuries lasting less than two years.

The amount of compensation recoverable by claimant’s will be significantly less than the current levels, as can be seen from the table below published by Legal Futures:

Injury Duration in monthsProposed fixed tariff damages post reformCurrent average damages
0-3£275£1,800
3-6£470£2,250
6-9£805£2,700
9-12£1,250£3,250
12-15£1,910£3,650
15-18£2,790£4,150
18-24£3,910£4,750
Over 24No revisionn/a

The tariff will not apply to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists.

As well as a reduction in the level of compensation payable to road traffic accident victims, insurers will also not meet legal costs for personal injury claims with a value of less than £5,000. This means many Claimants will have to handle their claims without legal support which could prevent injured people from seeking the compensation they deserve.

When will the reforms be implemented?

The government’s initial plan was to implement the reforms on 6 April 2020. On 21 April 2020 an announcement came from the Lord Chancellor which stated that after further consideration following the outbreak of Covid-19, the implementation of the Whiplash Reform Programme would be delayed until April 2021.

What does this mean for injured people?

From April 2021, if you are injured in a Road Traffic Accident you will have start and navigate your way through the complex claims process without a solicitor. Whiplash claims will no longer be accepted without medical evidence so it is likely you may have to:

  • Submit the claim using an online portal.
  • Instruct your own medical expert to diagnose your injuries
  • Pay £180 for a medical report if the other side denies liability
  • Accept reject or possibly appeal the compensation offer the other side put forward.

This would be a daunting process for anyone. It is therefore likely these changes are going to prevent access to justice as people who are genuinely injured may feel the process is too complicated or overwhelming, resulting in them being discouraged from either starting or continuing with their claim. A Claimant may also not have access to the internet, or the finances to pay the £180 medical report fee up front again deterring them from bringing a genuine claim.

What should you do next?

As these changes are less than 12 months away, we are advising people who have suffered a whiplash-type injury in the last three years to contact us immediately to avoid getting caught up in the new whiplash reforms. This will ensure claims can be submitted by experienced solicitors before the reforms are implemented in April 2021.

Hodge Jones & Allen Solicitors have helped thousands of people over the last 40 years to secure compensation for pain and suffering, crucial physiotherapy to aid recovery and loss of earnings caused as a result of a road traffic accident.

If you have suffered an injury in a road traffic accident due to somebody’s else negligence, you may be entitled to a compensation. For a free consultation with one of our personal injury experts please call 0808 231 6369 or request a call back online.

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