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Next year, radical changes will be taking place within personal injury law. To tackle the UK’s so-called ‘whiplash epidemic’, the government has that the small claims limit will rise from £1,000 to £5,000 for whiplash (or soft tissue) claims, and to £2,000 for all other personal injury claims.
Currently, people with claims worth more than £1,000 can instruct a lawyer to act on their behalf to help them secure compensation. Provided they win their case, claimants can recover legal costs from the third party’s insurance company. This means that these victims can pursue a personal injury claim without worrying about the expense of instructing a solicitor.
When the small claims limit is increased on 1st October 2018, whiplash claims valued at less than £5,000 and all other kinds of personal injury claims worth less than £2,000 will be allocated to the small claims court.
People with these types of claims will be forced to take on insurance companies (and their experienced legal teams) alone without the help of an experienced lawyer.
The reforms are being introduced to reduce the number of fraudulent and unnecessary claims that insurers say are costing the motor industry says £2 billion each year. However, there is a lack of evidence to back-up this figure and some have suggested that it has been hugely distorted. In 2014, less than 1% of motor accident claims were proven to be dishonest.
The government has justified the reforms by suggesting that the ban on whiplash claims will reduce the cost of insurance premiums by £40-50 a year. However, there is no history of insurers passing savings resulting from legal reforms onto their customers. By preventing victims of accidents from claiming, it is ultimately the insurance companies who will profit from the new measures.
Because the vast majority of road traffic accident claims (many of which involve whiplash injuries) are valued at less than £5,000, thousands of people with genuine, low-value claims will find themselves at a disadvantage. They may not understand how much their claim is worth or know how to go about securing the compensation they deserve. If they choose to instruct a solicitor, they will have to pay their legal fees themselves, which could mean taking a chunk out of their compensation.
The government has suggested that these lower value claims are straightforward enough for individuals to deal with on their own, without legal aid. However, all personal injury claims can be complex and, without the help of an experienced lawyer, claiming compensation is incredibly difficult and time-consuming.
The changes will make the process of securing compensation harder and are likely to put people off claiming at all. Innocent victims will be unable to access the justice they deserve leading to them missing out on thousands of pounds in compensation.
At First Personal Injury, we are committed to helping people who have been injured through no fault of their own win the compensation they are entitled to. If you have been in an accident in the last three years caused by someone else, you could be able to claim. Get in touch with our experienced personal injury lawyers today by calling 0800 808 9740 or contact us online.
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