Justice secretary Chris Grayling recently outlined proposals to change the current regulations regarding personal injury road traffic accident claims. The Government predict it will benefit honest drivers who have had to bear the price of a system that has often been open to abuse from frivolous claims.
The new proposals, which are to be considered in March 2013, include independent medical panels to assess the validity of whiplash claims, and enabling more cases to be challenged in small claims court by raising the threshold from the current level of £1,000 to £5,000.
I agree with ministers that more needs to be done in order to curb the number of fraudulent claims made in the UK. Currently an estimated 1,500 whiplash claims are made every day and insurers estimate this is costing as much as £2 billion a year. However this latest proposal could make it far more difficult for genuine claimants to pursue justice and receive the compensation they are rightly entitled to and I worry the Government underestimates the complexity of many cases which are affected.
Further changes in April
The proposed measures are in addition to a number of changes already being introduced in April, including a major adjustment to Conditional Fee Agreements (CFA’s) which aims to cut legal aid and rebalance ‘no win, no fee’ cases so losers don’t have to pay a fee to the claimants lawyer.
The wider implication of all these measures is that they seem to be designed to cut down all claims, not just the fraudulent ones. For people suffering with personal injuries as a result of an accident, the reforms are likely to make it more difficult for litigations in person to actually process the claims and could put off many victims who are suffering from a serious injury due to the fear of losing the case.
The consultation paper itself even acknowledges that the changes could harm the access to justice and result in victims with justified injuries failing to claim proper damages, or refusing to challenge unreasonable offers by insurers.
Will it affect your car insurance premiums?
Research has found that although fraudulent claims are on the rise, only 7 per cent of current whiplash claims are found to be false and experts predict that the proposals are highly unlikely to have any sort of impact on car insurance premiums.
It does mean however that it has never been more important for people who have genuine injuries to seek legal advice straight from qualified legal experts who have a proven track record for dealing with such matters and have successfully secured compensation for their clients.
Anybody who has suffered a serious personal injury should talk to a solicitor about the sort of legal action they could take before the changes come in March and April to ensure they still qualify for the likes of Legal Aid.
This post was provided by Alkers – personal injury solicitors, of Lancashire, UK. If you’ve been injured in an accident in the UK that wasn’t your fault, take a look at their personal injury compensation calculator to see how much you could claim.