The Government's proposals to change compensation for whiplash injuries amount to an assault on innocent victims, warns Neille Ryan, Head of Personal Injury at law firm Furley Page.
The recently published Civil Liability Bill sets out plans to reform the way that whiplash claims are calculated and will come into force in April 2019. The Bill will introduce fixed amounts of compensation for whiplash claims and changes to the way the personal injury discount rate is calculated, with the introduction of a tariff system for whiplash claims.
The small claims limit for road traffic accident cases will also be raised from £1,000 to £5,000, pushing most whiplash cases to the small claims track, where claimants are not entitled to claim for their legal costs.
Neille Ryan, Partner and Head of Personal Injury at Furley Page, explains: "The Government and Insurers continue their assault on innocent victims injured in road traffic accidents. Insurers continue to influence Government to make it harder and more expensive for the injured to claim compensation, whilst also reducing the amount they receive in damages, in return offering only hollow promises of slightly reduced premiums.
"More changes are imminent so that whiplash awards will be slashed to a few hundred pounds and almost no legal costs will be recoverable by most claimants, who will have to pay lawyers themselves out of their damages, or take on the Insurer and their solicitors alone.
"The Government's own impact assessment predicts that these latest changes will produce an annual £150 million additional profit for the insurance industry, yet the innocent injured motorist gets a fraction of their true damages entitlement – on what possible basis is that fair?
"The Bill is very bad news for motorists, because it places serious impediments in the way of claimants seeking justice for smaller personal injury claims. Raising the small claims limit to £5,000 will have the effect that most claimants will not then be able to access legal representation, as costs cannot be recovered in the small claims court.
"Unless MPs are made aware of the facts and how they affect real people with real injuries, rather than just towing the party line, then for innocent injured victims it will get worse and worse. Do not fall into the trap of thinking it will never happen to you, because if it does then it will be too late for you to do anything about it."
Neille is a member of Furley Page’s highly-regarded Personal Injury team and has extensive experience of industrial disease and personal injury compensation claims across a wide portfolio, which includes acting for claimants and defendants.
Neille is a Member of the Law Society Personal Injury Panel, a fellow of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and a member of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS).
For more information and advice on personal injury issues call Neille Ryan on 01227 763939.
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