Government proposals to increase the small claims track limit for personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000 could prevent thousands of genuine accident victims from gaining justice, warns leading south east law firm Furley Page.
The surprise announcement means that personal injury claims of up to £5,000 would be transferred to small claims courts and claimants would no longer be able to recover legal costs. The Government also plans to end altogether the right to cash compensation for ‘minor’ whiplash claims.
The proposal has sparked the launch of an online petition, which lawyer Neille Ryan, a Personal Injury specialist and Partner at Furley Page, is urging everyone to support. “Even the Ministry of Justice and defendant solicitors have been completely surprised by this announcement, which flies in the face of all objective advice on the issue,” he says.
“It will force genuine victims either to take on insurers and their legal representatives without a solicitor of their own, or to pay largely unregulated and unqualified claims farmers to ‘help’ them with their claim.”
In a recent statement, Chancellor George Osborne said the Government was particularly concerned about the number of whiplash claims. One of the main aims of its reforms, he said, was to crack down on the motoring fraud and claims culture and remove £1bn from the cost of providing motor insurance. He said the Government expected the insurance industry to pass on this saving, so that drivers see an average saving of £40 to £50 per year on their insurance bills.
“It’s ironic,” says Neille, “that the Government has just increased premiums by 3.5% (roughly £40-£50 per household) through a rise in Insurance Premium Tax, while also announcing an automatic right to compensation for anyone whose train is delayed by more than 30 minutes.
“Do we now think that an inconvenience is worthy of compensation but an injury caused by negligence, with several months or more of genuine pain and discomfort, is not?”
The petition argues that the chance of savings actually being passed on to motorists is slim so there is no incentive for the public in the proposed increase to the small claims limit.
“Claims management companies will be rushing to take advantage of vulnerable people who can’t afford legal representation and the only winners will be the insurance industry,” adds Neille.
“I urge everyone to sign the petition to help keep the small claims track limit for personal injury claims at £1,000. It has already attracted more than 21,500 signatures and if we get to 100,000 then the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.”
To sign the petition go to: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/113810
Furley Page’s Personal Injury Team has extensive experience of handling all types of compensation claims, and an excellent reputation for representing whiplash victims. It is regarded as one of the best in Kent and is top ranked by Chambers UK and rated by The Legal 500, both independent guides to the legal profession.
The team offers a free initial consultation to discuss your personal injury claim and detailed investigation of all options for funding accident claims – including ‘no win, no fee’ and damages-based agreements.
To find out more about how to make a personal injury claim, contact Neille Ryan on 01227 763939.
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