Whiplash Reforms | The Latest News
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has confirmed that the reforms, which will be implemented once the Civil Liability Bill is passed, will be delayed by one year, as the government body needs more time to address concerns about access to justice.
This is both good and bad news. On the one hand, it gives the industry, as well as everyday people, more time to voice concerns about how catastrophic these reforms will be, hopefully making a difference to the overall outcome of these new laws.
On the other less hopeful hand though, it seems pretty certain that these reforms will go ahead, in some way or another.
Originally, the Government wanted to implement the changes by April 2019. Large-scale testing will now take place, it has said, with the view to implementing measures in full in April 2020.
As mentioned, it sounds pretty certain that some big changes to personal injury laws will occur, but in what precise form, we don’t yet know.
Many commentators are suggesting that there is little to indicate that, at this point in time, MPs are interested in watering-down the contents of the Bill, so there is still very much a desire for these dramatic changes to go ahead, as to be explained in more detail below.
Tell Me More - What Are These Reforms And ‘The Civil Liability Bill’ All About?
The three most shocking changes to personal injury law proposed under the Civil Liability Bill include:
- The small claims limit rise for Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs) Read our article about how to start a RTA claim.
Under the proposed changes, there will be a new small claims limit of £5,000 for RTAs. Currently, the claims limit is set at £1,000. In simple terms, your injury claim will need to be worth more than £5,000 for you to be able to claim legal costs back from the person at fault As a result, and this is the real worry, for most people their injuries will be worth less than £5,000 and you will either have to fight the insurer yourself or pay for legal representation from your own pocket even when you win.
- The small claims limit rise for employer and public liability cases (read our article about accidents at work).
This claims limit will be reduced to £2,000. Currently, it is set at £1,000. Again, the same goes for clients being able to secure a solicitor to represent them where the injury claim is worth less than £2,000, albeit in most employer liability cases injuries are worth more than this so there should be little difficulty getting legal representation.
- A new tariff system.
The system will value whiplash injuries in a way that will mean the compensation available to claim will be significantly reduced, compared to what the courts currently award. This is where the colloquial term ‘whiplash ban’ has derived from. The Government seems to believe that whiplash simply isn’t a real medical condition! This is absolutely untrue.
But Wait, There’s More...
It’s also recently emerged that the Government has decided it may want to exclude claims made by cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians and equestrians from the aforementioned proposals about the claims limits. These individuals may be exempt from the changes meaning it is easier for them to get legal representation or more in compensation than someone in a car, for example.
Basically, we guess the Government is presuming that those sitting in cars should have less legal rights of representation and receive less in compensation for the same injury than another types of road user - a huge generalisation and one that doesn’t really make much sense at all, in our opinion
Why Is All This Happening?
A number of reasons have been stated and all of them are a bit ridiculous, according to just about everyone in the legal field.
For more information, read our articles.
- The Civil Liability Bill | Whiplash Reforms Delayed
- Why you should be worried about the government's whiplash ban
- The Civil Liability Bill: How Will It Affect My Right To Claim?
Why Should We Be Upset?
Because we live in a fair and just democratic society wherein everybody should have access to justice. If you implement laws that will make it difficult for the average person to gain legal advice and representation, that society has just got a little bit less fair, a whole lot more unjust and is actually not so democratic after all.
Don’t Agree? This Is What You Can Do About It
Now is the time to make a huge fuss.
It doesn’t matter who you are - a professional in the personal injury or legal field or an average citizen. This proposed set of laws will affect everybody!
Just imagine if you, your son, daughter or another loved one was injured in an accident, at no fault. You are unable to work so lose money, your car is written off and your insurance premiums hiked up until/unless the claim is resolved and you are found not at fault.
However, the other driver is disputing liability, or saying they don’t think you would have been injured, and their motor insurer believes them over you. After all, they are their customer and the insurers job is to help them. The insurer rejects your claim – what can you do? Are you going to pay for a medical report which you need to claim for injury (a basic GP report currently costs £216)? Do you know what investigations to make to gather evidence to support your claim? Do you know what small details to look for that could tip the evidence in your favour? Do you know what case law to look for to support your arguments? Do you know the law and the legal process? Are you prepared to issue court proceedings and pay up to several hundred pounds to do so? Are you prepared to go to court and pay further court fees for the right to do so? Are you going to represent yourself at trial against a barrister instructed by the motor insurer or are you again going to spend several hundred pounds to get a barrister to help you at court? …and all for what? A significantly reduced amount of compensation that may not exceed the amount you have had to pay out physically, and in time, to prove you weren’t at fault or were injured. This is why people instruct trained specialist solicitors and this is to be taken away from the vast majority of people claiming whiplash at the very least.
The best thing to do right now is to spread the word about the Civil Liability Bill and do everything in your power to express your objections. You can:
- Share this article on your social media channels
- Follow Access To Justice, an action group set up to coordinate action to protect access to justice for people injured through no fault of their own, on social media and share their posts about this issue
- Lobby and write to your MP (find templates at write to your local MP)
- Write to your local newspaper (find templates at write to your local newspaper)
- Complete a case study form, to add weight to the argument being made against this bill (case study form)
- Spread the word to your friends, family members, colleagues and anyone else who will listen. In unity, there is power!
With the delays now in place, it’s the perfect time to band together, as an industry and as a society, to stop these reforms from happening, or at least to reduce the catastrophic impact they will have on us all, if they go ahead as planned by our Government. The Government that is supposed to protect us.
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