Changes to rules on compensation claims for whiplash and other minor injuries caused by a road traffic accident (RTA)
On 31 May, new rules came into effect which mean that you may now struggle to find a solicitor who is willing to act for you where you have suffered whiplash or other minor injuries as a result of a road traffic collision for which you and any injured passengers were not to blame.
Before explaining further, let me just say that you will not find it harder to get help from me, as I will continue to provide all road traffic accident victims with a FREE initial assessment and advice on whether lawyer support is still available.
What are the new rules and why are they being introduced?
There are five new headline rules that you need to be aware of:
- Where you sustain a whiplash injury, which causes pain or discomfort that lasts for less than two years and is accompanied by no or only minor mental trauma (like low level stress or anxiety), then the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive will be set according to a new tariff system which caps maximum compensation at £4,345;
- It will not be possible to depart from the tariff, although it is permissible for a compensation payment to be increased by up to 20% where this is justified;
- It will no longer be possible for you to obtain compensation for a whiplash injury which causes symptoms that last for less than two years, without first obtaining a medical report to verify that whiplash has actually been sustained;
- It will no longer be possible for you to recover the costs of using a solicitor to help you pursue a compensation claim in any road traffic accident case where the total value of your injuries are worth less than £5,000, and where the overall value of your claim (including financial losses and expenses) is worth less than £10,000; and
- It will now be necessary for all claims that fall into category (4) above to be pursued through a new low value road traffic accident claims portal, known as the Official Injury Claim (OIC) Portal – which you can access by clicking here: Official Injury Claim
The rule changes have been introduced to try to drive down the number of fraudulent whiplash claims that are made each year and also to reduce the cost of dealing with low value injury claims, which are considered to be too high when viewed in the context of the compensation being sought.
The hope, in so far as low value claims are concerned, is that more people will be encouraged to make DIY claims as solicitors start to decline to take on cases where they know that compensation amounts are likely to be low and that their costs will not be recoverable.
Are there any exceptions when the new rules do not apply?
The rules governing whiplash claims apply across the board. However, the rules banning the recovery of solicitors costs and which oblige claims to be pursued through the online portal, do not apply where:
- you are still feeling the effects of whiplash more than two years after being injured;
- you are suffering serious (as opposed to minor) mental trauma i.e. as confirmed in a formal diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder or the onset of deep depression;
- you are bringing a claim on behalf of a child or an adult who lacks mental capacity;
- you are bringing a claim on behalf of someone who has died – or alternatively you are suing someone who is dead;
- you were injured as a pedestrian;
- you were injured while cycling or riding a motorbike;
- you were injured while a pillion passenger or a sidecar passenger;
- you were injured while riding a horse;
- you were injured while using a mobility scooter;
- you were injured in an accident at a time when you were going through bankruptcy; or
- you are bringing a claim against someone whose vehicle, at the time of the accident, was not registered in the UK.
Points to take away
Without legal training, it is likely to be difficult for you to determine whether your claim falls within the ambit of the new rules. Therefore, the best advice continues to be to see a solicitor who specialises in personal injury claims and who is still willing to carry out a free assessment of your case. By doing this, you will know exactly where you stand and be in a position to make an informed decision about whether it makes financial sense for you to employ a lawyer or whether you would be better off pursuing the claim yourself.
If you have been involved in a road traffic accident and would like a free assessment of your claim, and advice on use of the new DIY online claims portal, then please DM me, call me on 07789986786 or email me at email@example.com for a confidential, no obligation chat.
Alternatively, if you would like to pursue a claim yourself using the OIC portal, then click here to access user guidance: guide-to-making-a-claim-version-20-april-2021.pdf (officialinjuryclaim.org.uk)