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Whiplash Claims Reforms

Introduction

The Civil Liability Act 2018, formally adopted as law on 31 May 2021, provides a host of comprehensive reforms to the way in which Claimants can claim compensation for minor whiplash injuries. This article provides a brief overview and summary of the key reforms you ought to consider.

The Civil Liability Act 2018 & Whiplash Reforms

Part 1 of the 2018 Act makes provisions in relation to whiplash claims and the personal injury discount rate. This makes up the Whiplash Regulations. While the Act was introduced in 2018, its implementation was adopted on 31 May 2021 due to the Covid pandemic from 2019. 

In essence, the Whiplash Regulations provide a new process for bringing small claims relating to whiplash injuries as a result of road traffic accidents.

The Difference

The key difference to the process of making a claim for whiplash injuries is the value of legal costs that can be recovered from the liable party. Before the changes, if one was involved in a road traffic accident and sustained a whiplash injury with a claim value of over £1,000, if the claim was successful, the Defendant’s insurers would pay the appropriate legal costs the Claimant’s solicitor incurred for their representation.

Now, and further to the Whiplash Regulations, the claim value limit sits at £5,000. Meaning that as most road traffic accidents in which whiplash injuries are sustained are valued under £5,000, the majority of whiplash Claimants can no longer instruct solicitors to proceed with their claim as the solicitors would be unable to recover their legal costs for their work from the Defendants insurers.

It may have been the case that solicitors would still have acted on these types of cases even in the knowledge that their legal fees would not be recoverable from the losing party. They may have continued to act as they could agree a conditional fee agreement (no win no fee) which would require the payment of 25% of the claimant’s damages to the solicitor to make the claim financially viable. However, the reforms have scuppered this idea as the amount of compensation one can expect to receive for a whiplash injury has also changed. This has been significantly reduced and new tariffs have been put in place. The result of this has meant that the damages for these claims are simply too low for 25% to be worth a solicitor’s time. 

A New Whiplash Claim?

The Whiplash Regulations provide a do-it-yourself online Portal system called Official Injury Claims for which whiplash claims valued under £5,000 fall under. This allows Claimants to make their claims directly with the insurers of the Defendant, without the need to instruct solicitors. You may also be required to represent yourself in Court if liability is disputed by the Defendant or their insurers.

In the event you still require legal representation, it is likely that you will have to pay your own legal fees and a Conditional Fee Agreement, otherwise known as No-Win No-Fee agreement, will not apply. Your legal fees will be required regardless of whether the outcome of your case is successful or unsuccessful and may in some cases exceed the amount of compensation you recover.

Compensation Amount

Much like the introduction of the fixed costs regime from October 2023, the Whiplash Regulations provides fixed amounts of compensation for Claimants who have sustained whiplash injuries in road traffic accidents.

The figure you may be compensated ultimately depends on the extent of the pain and suffering you have incurred and the period of time for which the symptoms have lasted.

The tariffs are as follows:

  • Up to 3 months – £240
  • 3-6 months – £495
  • 6-9 months – £840
  • 9-12 months – £1,320
  • 12-15 months – £2,040
  • 15-18 months – £3,005
  • 18-24 months – £4,215

Should an element of psychological injury be incurred, the compensatory value is slightly lifted as follows:

  • Up to 3 months – £260
  • 3-6 months – £520
  • 6-9 months – £895
  • 9-12 months – £1,390
  • 12-15 months – £2,125
  • 15-18 months – £3,100
  • 18-24 months – £4,345

Should your symptoms last longer than 24 months, your claim value will naturally fall over £5,000. You therefore ought to consider instructing solicitors in order to advance your claim subject to Conditional Fee Agreement terms and conditions.

Contact us for professional advice related to personal injury claims.

*This article is not legal advice but provides a general overview. The specific details of your case will determine the best course of action.