Whiplash Victims Expected to Lose Out After Reforms

From April 2020, whiplash victims are set to lose out on compensation they were previously entitled to.

This is when the government plans to introduce the Civil Liability Act, which features a reform to whiplash claim laws.

It will limit the amount of compensation victims can claim for a minor whiplash injury to £240. This is a huge drop from the current legislation, which allows for compensation of up to £3,810 – and even higher when recovery is expected to take a longer time.

DIY whiplash claims

As part of the changes, the government is introducing an online portal for victims to submit their own claims – without legal representation.

This is because the new law will see a rise in the small claims limit for injuries caused by road traffic accidents (RTA) from the current £1,000 to £5,000. This will affect a huge number of accident victims, with the Law Society expecting this change to impact roughly 96% of RTA claims.

It means that accident victims who claim up to that amount will no longer be able to reclaim the cost of legal representation. This could see them become unable to instruct solicitors to help them, potentially limiting their access to justice.

What this means for victims of whiplash is that they will have to submit their own claims – without legal assistance – through the government’s online portal. However, there has been concern from both the legal and claims sectors that the portal could be too complicated for people who are still recovering from an injury – and the potentially traumatic accident that caused it – to use effectively.

Access and awareness

There are also significant numbers of people who may find it difficult to even access this portal. This includes older people who don’t have the same knowledge of technology as younger people and those who may not have internet access.

The government is going to introduce a contact centre for those who can’t use the online portal. However, it has come under criticism for not doing enough to publicise the new changes. After all, accident victims can’t make use of the contact centre or portal if they don’t know it exists.

In addition, the new portal will require claimants to gather all losses before submitting their medical report. Currently, claimants are able to submit losses over time. Industry figures have called on the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, which is managing the delivery of the new service, to make this clear to anyone starting to submit a claim.

Attempt to reduce claims

The new system is being introduced in an attempt to cut down on fraudulent whiplash claims and help to reduce car insurance costs. According to the government, it is “concerned about the continuing high number and cost of road traffic accident whiplash-related claims”. It has said that many of these claims are minor, exaggerated or fraudulent, and have a resulting impact on car insurance premiums.

In a fact sheet, the government said: “There were around 850,000 personal injury claims made in 2017/18, of which around 650,000 were road traffic accident-related and around 90% of these were for whiplash injuries. The high volume of these claims lead to increased costs for consumers in their motor insurance premiums.”

However, this will likely be of little comfort to those who have suffered genuine – and highly painful – whiplash injuries.

Injuries won’t stop

First4Lawyers managing director Qamar Anwar commented: “One thing the reforms will not do is stop people being injured. Access to justice is core to our work and we want to ensure that consumers can continue to find lawyers to represent them.”

First4Lawyers is dedicated to helping accident victims get the justice and compensation they’re entitled to. This means that even after the new laws are put into place, we will continue to do our utmost to help you pursue a claim.

If you have suffered a whiplash injury, First4Lawyers can help you make a claim for compensation. To find out more, just give us a call, request a call back or start your claim online.


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