On 31st May 2021, a new regime came into force for road traffic accident victims, with the small claims limit for RTA claims increasing from £1,000 to £5,000. This means that legal costs for personal injury claims with a value of under £5,000 can no longer be recovered. Instead, unrepresented claimants will have to run their own claim via the Official Injury Claim online service:
The controversial new system will be run by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) on behalf of the Ministry of Justice, with the reforms expected to save insurers £1.2 billion or £35 for every motorist, savings which the government and insurance industry promise will be passed on to motor insurance policyholders.
The government is aiming to reduce the ‘unacceptably high’ number of whiplash claims made in the UK every year, which the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland QC has condemned as ‘greedy opportunism’. It is targeting the so-called ambulance chasing claims management companies and lawyers who are seen as assisting dishonest whiplash claimants.
For obvious reasons, road traffic accident lawyers (including Bartletts Solicitors) strongly disapprove of the new system, feeling that innocent victims will not get the compensation they deserve. Claimants will receive significantly less compensation than before due the new fixed tariff for whiplash injuries, while the 64 page guide to making a claim under the new guidelines has led to concerns about whether they will be able to navigate the portal and handle a claim in their own best interest.
There are also serious doubts as to whether the savings from the reforms will actually result in lower premiums for ‘honest’ policyholders. The system was designed and will be operated by the MIB, an organization that essentially represents the interests of its member insurers. Fundamentally, victims of road traffic accidents caused by the carelessness and negligence of a third party have the same right to legal advice and compensation as any other claimant. This can therefore be viewed as a human rights issue.
There are two exceptions to the new rules. Children and ‘protected parties’ are exempt from the new small claims limit for whiplash claims arising from road accidents, while for ‘vulnerable road users’ (or those whose claims have other complicating factors), the small claims limit for personal injury claims arising from road accidents remains at £1,000. Children and protected parties are also classed as vulnerable road users for the purposes of this second exception, where there is no whiplash injury. Both categories of claimants will still be able to recover the cost of legal advice and representation. Specifically, these are:
Children aged under 18 at the date they make their claim
Others unable to manage their legal affairs (protected parties)
Vulnerable road users (because a collision with a car is likely to cause more serious injuries):
Mobility scooter users
Children and protected parties
If you have suffered a car accident with multiple injuries, including whiplash, contact Bartletts Solicitors for free legal advice and to get started making a No Win No Fee car accident claim.