***Updated June 2018***
Our Head of Personal Injury, Gareth Naylor, updated this blog post on 27th June 2018 to provide the most up to date information regarding the Personal Injury Reforms.
Controversial personal injury reforms which significantly restrict a person’s access to justice look set to go ahead next year despite the concerns raised by the Justice Select Committee.
The reforms seek to impose a fixed tariff for soft tissue injuries sustained in a road traffic accident. The reforms also seek to increase the small claims limited for road traffic accident claims to £5,000.00 and for all other claims £2,000.00.
The Table below gives an indication of the average awards made in 2015 and the Judicial College Guidelines which is released by the judiciary as guidance to the value of general damages every year. On the right hand side of the table you will see the fixed tariff to be implemented by the government.
The tariff figure will cover both whiplash claims and minor psychological injuries; there will be no separate figure for minor psychological injuries. This was only going to be £25.00 in the original consultation anyway.
Small Claims Limit
The increase in the small claims limit means that a Claimant injured in a road traffic accident will be unable to recover the costs of securing the services of a lawyer unless the value of their claim for personal injury exceeds £5,000.00 which is rare in the case of a soft tissue injury, despite the pain and suffering that these types of injuries can cause.
Similarly, a Claimant injured in an accident at work will be unable to recover their legal costs if the value of their claim for personal injury does not exceed £2,000.00.
In essence, the proposed changes will effectively remove a person’s right to seek legal representation following a road traffic injury, amidst the widespread belief that the reforms are motivated largely by the insurance industry. There is also doubt as to whether the promised reduction in insurance premiums (promised as a result of the changes) will actually come to fruition. This has prompted concerns from the legal sector and the general public as to the motives for the changes and what the potential future consequences.
Misgivings over the proposed reforms are numerous, not least that they are effectively pressuring people into representing themselves in any legal action relating to a road traffic accident. It is also believed that if the Government can be pressurised into making these changes by the insurance industry, then a dangerous precedent will be set. Another factor in the background, adding to the sense of unease and suspicion, is that ministers have suggested that further reforms will be implemented. These will undoubtedly again affect individuals seeking legal representation, especially in the areas of injuries at work and public liability claims.
Whilst we encourage reforms to wipe out fraudulent claims these reforms are not fit for purpose and affect innocent victims in preventing them from securing proper access to justice.
For more information on what the 2019 personal injury reforms might mean for you, please contact our Partner and Head of Personal Injury Gareth Naylor.