damaged car following a crash

Loss of Legal Representation is a Risk in new Whiplash Reforms

As of 31st May 2021, the Personal Injury industry has seen a massive shake-up, meaning that we (along with all other solicitors) will not be able to help people with smaller, low impact Road Traffic Accident (RTA) claims.

Official Injury Claim

The changes in the industry’s processes come as a new online portal, Official Injury Claim, is made available for people to use. It is a free and independent service that enables people who have been injured in an RTA to claim compensation themselves, without the need for legal help from solicitors. This will save people money on legal fees, but is the lack of legal representation a good thing?

The website has been developed by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.

Official Injury Claim can be used for claims relating to minor injuries from an RTA, such as cuts and bruises, muscle damage, minor fractures, and whiplash.

There are a few criteria to check before you make a claim:

  • The accident happened in England or Wales.
  • You are 18 years old or older.
  • You were in a vehicle.
  • You believe the accident wasn’t your fault.
  • The accident occurred on or after 31st May 2021.

You can claim up to £5,000 on the online portal, which could potentially rise to £10,000 to compensate for all the losses related to your injury, including damage to your car and loss of earnings.

Whiplash Reforms to Save £1.2bn for Drivers

The main reason for these reforms is to reduce the extremely high and disproportionate number of whiplash claims, after more than half-a-million of these claims were made in the past year. The UK has some of the safest roads in the whole of Europe, and less crashes have been reported each year since 2013, but somehow road traffic accident claims are 40% up when compared with 2006.

This could be due to an overwhelming increase in exaggerated claims, which, in turn, boost insurance premiums for all other drivers.

The reforms, which include requiring medical evidence for a whiplash claim, aim to reduce the high number of fraudulent claims that are made. The savings created by the reforms are thought to be around £1.2bn, which insurers are promising to pass on to drivers, cutting their premiums and saving millions of drivers around £35 per year.

How Do the Whiplash Reforms Affect the Everyday Motorist

Since the 31st May 2021, set tariffs have been imposed, leaving claimants looking at significantly less compensation for RTA injuries than before the reforms.

The small claims track limit for road traffic accident personal injury claims has increased from £1,000 to £5,000. This means that most RTA claims will instead have to proceed through the cheaper claims track, where legal costs are not recoverable.

James Hardy of Wosskow Brown’s Personal Injury Department gives an example: “Damages have been substantially lowered. If you have a soft tissue injury for 12 months, you could previously expected to receive around £4,000, but under the new tariff this has been lowered to £1300.”

However, while reducing fraudulent and exaggerated claims is a good thing, these reforms may be bad news to some honest motorists trying to make a claim.

Mr Hardy added: “The idea of the reforms is to stamp out fraud but in doing this, they have limited the access to justice for the everyday motorist who should firstly be adequately compensated in the event of a genuine road traffic accident, and secondly should be able to seek legal representation.”

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