Rising Personal Injury Claims Limit Will Restrict Access To Justice
If you have suffered a minor injury and are planning to claim compensation, you need to do so quickly - or you could be excluded.
Government plans to raise the minimum claim limit from £1,000 to £5,000 are likely to come into force very soon.
It has been just under a month since the proposal appeared in Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement.
But don’t let the subsequent lull fool you. The wheels on this one are turning quickly because ministers are keen to cut the cost of road accident compensation claims.
They want to remove the right to general damages for soft tissue claims, although claimants may still be entitled to “special damages” (including treatment and loss of earnings).
An entire tranche of accident victims with less severe injuries could suddenly discover they have restricted access to justice: regardless of the pain and inconvenience they have suffered.
However, there is an unforeseen consequence that may prompt the government to pause for thought…
Claims from £1,000 to £25,000 currently go through a fast-track portal (another government cost-cutting measure) to stop them from taking up too much court time.
But with the claims limit raised to £5,000, some 750,000 cases a year would no longer be eligible for the portal and its rapid claims settling procedure. So they could end up in court as small claims cases.
And with no Legal Aid available, that means many more litigants in person (claimants without solicitors) will flood into busy county courts that are already struggling to cope.
Hard-pressed district judges will not be impressed because cases involving litigants in person tend to take longer.
This is the one faint hope that victims have: that ministers suddenly realise they will be unwittingly shunting cases from an insurer-funded portal to taxpayer-funded courts.
Don’t count on it though. The government seems intent to press on regardless.
More details on the proposed changes are expected next month. This could mean the new rules will be in place by April 2016 - so if you’ve been injured you should consider taking action now before it’s too late.
Coles Miller handles personal injury claims from all over the country. Our team is led by Partner Adrian Cormack, a Legal 500 recommended lawyer and one of only a handful of APIL Accredited Brain Injury Solicitors in the South West.
For further information and expert legal advice, contact Adrian Cormack, 01202 355695.