“A world where Darth Vader is the good guy and Luke Skywalker is the bad guy.”

The principle of insurance is that the many pay for the few. Fortunately, the vast majority of people will never be involved in an accident but if this happens how would you expect the system to support you?

If the accident was somebody else’s fault shouldn’t you be able to call upon the services of a solicitor to provide expert assistance in advancing your case and supporting you every step of the way? However, things are about to change in relation to road traffic accidents involving whiplash type injuries.

It is a fundamental principle of law that the parties must be on an equal playing field and this is being eroded following the insurance industry lobbying the government and essentially having an input in dictating government policy.

The general public may not be aware but since 2014 the insurance company are only liable to pay solicitor’s costs in the fixed sum of £500 plus vat per case in which liability is admitted under an electronic portal scheme. Fat Cat lawyers indeed whilst the insurance industry wastes millions to advertise “compulsory” insurance and Meerkats.

Not content with this, the insurance industry and government (with support of the media) have eroded claimant rights further with the introduction of the Civil Liability Act 2018 which becomes law in April 2020.

This is bad news for claimants and their lawyers. Whiplash type injury cases now fall under a tariff system designed to fall within the small claims limit which has increased five-fold from £1,000 to £5,000.

This is a game changer. Not only are the injuries valued at a significantly reduced figure but lawyers have effectively been cut from the system.

Under the “new” scheme for a 4-6 month whiplash type injury, the scheme pays a mere £450 if the claim is successful against a figure in the region of £2,150 – £3,810 if an identical injury was suffered at work.

From April 2020 you are on your own and classed as a “litigant in person”

The plan is for the general public to have access to an online portal system where they can “simply” input their claim. The wrongdoer’s representatives are in charge of the whole process.

No thought has been given to whether that person has access to the internet; whether they are able to confidently use a computer; whether English is their first language; whether they have the intelligence to navigate the online portal on their own. Who is holding their hand?

How is a litigant in person able to compete against the might of an insurance company who have well trained staff in defeating or reducing the value of claims? I have taken over many cases where a person has tried to pursue the insurer directly and got into difficulties and I do not believe for one moment that the insurance industry will change their spots.

How is a litigant in person supposed to know about the law, liability; negligence; causation; medical and legal terminology?

What if the insurer refuses to pay? Absent of any legal training, a litigant in person will have considerable difficulties issuing proceedings, correctly pleading their case and navigating the Civil Procedure Rules. Most people will simply not bother.

This is a “Win, Win Win” for insurers.

What I say is this: “Let’s not forget the injured party is the innocent victim here and how over the last decade or so have the odds been so firmly placed in favour of the wrongdoer. When did the negligent party become the good guy and the innocent party become the bad guy? A world where Luke Skywalker is the bad guy and Darth Vader is the good guy”

Whether you fall on the side of cheaper insurance premiums (which at best is likely to be tens of pounds if at all) and putting hurdles in the way of whiplash claims or whether you believe that the law should favour the side of the innocent party (or at least there be a level playing field) is a matter for the public at large.

A claimant presently has 3 years in which to issue proceedings. If anybody has been involved in an accident I would recommend that legal advice is sought sooner rather than later and certainly before these changes come into effect.

If you wish to pursue any personal injury claim please contact Simon Helliwell on 0113 284 5048 or simon.helliwell@isonharrison.co.uk

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