New rules which were set to radically change the way personal injury claims are dealt with have been abandoned. Pam Roberts explains what this means for personal injury claimants.
The Prison and Courts Bill, which was due to come into force in 2018, planned to bring in sweeping changes to personal injury litigation and reform how whiplash injures are compensated.
It is not clear whether the bill will be picked up again in future parliamentary sessions, however this is the second time that the reforms have been dropped – they were shelved last October following the Brexit vote, but were re-introduced by the new government.
The small claims limit
The move is good news for innocent victims of road traffic accidents, as the proposed changes would have significantly increased the personal injury small claims limit.
For road traffic accident-related claims, the limit was due to increase to £5,000 from the current £1,000, with an increase to £2,000 for other personal injury claims.
Currently, as long as a claimant recovers £1,000 of more, their legal costs will be paid by the defendants, however under the new rules, victims would have to pay their own legal fees for personal injury cases, unless they were compensated in excess of £2,000, or in excess of £5,000 for whiplash claims.
A tariff of damages
The Prison and Courts Bill would also bring in a tariff of damages for soft-tissue claims – those that relate to whiplash and an element of minor physiological injury.
The tariff proposed compensation of £225 for a 0-3-month injury, and up to £3,725 for a 24-month injury – a significant decrease on current compensation for accidents of this kind, particularly at the lower end of the scale.
While the Prison and Courts Bill scrapping will be seen as a windfall for many defendants who have been campaigning for an increase to the limits in a bid to prevent false whiplash claims driving up insurance, the bill would significantly hinder innocent victims.
There is a real possibility that the bill could be pushed forward following the General Election, therefore anyone who has suffered injury is urged to speak to a legal specialist without delay.
For more information on personal injury claims, contact Pam Roberts on 0161 761 4611 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org