Parliament announced on the 5th July 2018 that legislation intended to reform the personal injury small claims sector looks set to be halted until at least September 2018.
Part of the proposed bill which is now due to come into force in April 2019 makes significant changes to the personal injury compensation system by introducing fixed tariffs to apply to Road Traffic Accident whiplash injuries. The insurance industry argue that these changes will result in savings for consumers in respect of car insurance premiums.
The draft order of the Civil Liability Bill sets outs the fixed tariffs for compensation for pain, suffering and loss of amenity payable for injuries lasting less than three months will be restricted to £225. That figure rises to £450 for injuries up to six months, and to £765 where the injuries last nine months. The maximum fixed tariff for a whiplash injury, applying where victims have suffered for up to 24 months, is only £3,725.
The draft order defines ‘whiplash injury’ very wide as a sprain, strain, tear or rupture of one or more of the muscles, tendons or ligaments in the neck or back. The effects may include, but are not limited to, pain in the neck, back, shoulders or arms, reduced mobility in the neck, back or shoulders, headaches, muscle spasms, or a swelling in the neck. Compensation can be awarded only where the claimant can produce evidence of the injury in a fixed cost medical report from an accredited medical expert.
Although not included in the bill, as it does not require primary legislation, is a rise in the small claims limits for personal injury cases. The government intends to raise the small claims limit for RTA cases from £1,000 to £5,000 and other personal injury cases, public or employer’s liability, from £1,000 to £2,000. This change can be made by secondary legislation and will be timed to coincide with introduction of the Civil Liability Bill. As a result of the fixed tariffs the vast majority of whiplash claims are likely to fall within the new £5,000 limit. These changes will result in claimant’s either dealing with the claim themselves, which the government think people can handle, or pay for a lawyer, if they want one from their limited damages.
We believe that changes need to be made to the Civil Liability Bill to stop injured people suffering the biggest hit to their rights in recent years. For now we will have to wait a bit longer to see whether or not the Bill will pass through Parliament. In the meantime we continue to support the campaigns against the changes proposed.
If you require assistance or advice regarding a personal injury claim then please contact Anton Bilinski.