Why Legal Reform Of Whiplash Claims Threatens Us All
Justice for injured motorists is in jeopardy – with massive consequences for all road users: drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians…everyone.
Potentially devastating legislation – the Civil Liability Bill – will go before the House of Lords for its second reading later this month.
Greedy insurers are licking their lips in anticipation but for the rest of us the Bill is a huge threat…
What The Civil Liability Bill Will Mean To You
- Whiplash compensation claims will be restricted to the small claims limit of £5,000 – regardless of the severity of the soft-tissue injury you suffer. This is insufficient when you consider the financial impact suffered by the victim in terms of lost earnings and the cost of treatment. Injured motorists will be denied hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation.
- It will no longer be viable for most personal injury solicitors to take on whiplash cases. Victims will be unable to recover legal costs and so will not have legal representation in court. They face the prospect of having to represent themselves in court (while rich insurance companies will still have full legal representation). It is estimated that the percentage of unrepresented claimants will leap from five per cent to 30 per cent.
- What about the repairs to your vehicle? Normally solicitors can recover the cost of vehicle repairs (or the insurance excess). But without solicitors, the unrepresented claimant faces the burden of arranging for repairs or a replacement vehicle. This is an important part of any claim because the claimant needs to get back on the road. Sometimes their vehicle is the only way they can get to work.
- Cases will take up more time in court time. Without legal representation, the injured motorists will take longer to get to grips with the law. The courts are very worried about this. It’s already happening in the divorce courts because the government has cut Legal Aid.
- Britain’s already overburdened NHS will have yet more patients to treat because – without proper compensation – all those injured motorists will no longer be able to get the urgent private treatment they need. They will have to join lengthening NHS waiting lists. Those delays will make their injuries worse and more costly to treat.
- The NHS expects to lose £6 million a year because it will not be able to recover costs from ‘at fault’ road users’ insurers in some accidents. Admittedly £6 million is a drop in the ocean – just under two hours of NHS operational time – but every little helps: £6 million means a lot to any cash-strapped hospital.
- Even the taxman is set to suffer. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) expects to lose £140 million if numbers of claims fall (which they will if the proposed legislation goes through in its present form).
So Who Gains?
We know who’s going to suffer – injured motorists (and their families and employers), other road users, the NHS, the courts and the taxman.
Who will gain? The insurers. They expect to save £1.3 billion a year in reduced payouts…but will they pass this on in lower premiums? Cynics already know the answer to that. Bills are always fast to rise but slow to fall.
Why Is All This Happening?
Why indeed? In 2018 the idea that Britain is awash with fraudulent whiplash claims is an utter fallacy.
No whiplash claim can proceed without two important elements:
- proper medical evidence
- a full assessment from an independent medical expert.
Think about what that means in real terms. There are around half a million whiplash cases every year. That’s 500,000+ cases that were supported by medical evidence and approved by independent medical experts as being worthy of litigation.
But if the insurers have their way, 96 per cent of all those cases will be swept under the carpet. Justice will be denied for all but a handful of whiplash victims.
What Can I Do About It?
Protest! These are your rights that are being taken away. The mainstream media may not have made much of the reforms as yet (either that or they swallowed the insurance industry’s propaganda hook, line and sinker) – but pretty soon the truth will out.
And when it does, take to social media and make your feelings known. Please start now by sharing this blog post.
What If I’ve Been Injured?
Under the present law, you have three years to claim if you’ve been injured and need compensation to fund your treatment and rehabilitation.
We recommend that you do so right now before the government makes it all but impossible.
For more information on claiming compensation, contact Coles Miller Partner Adrian Cormack, head of the Personal Injury Department, 01202 355695.