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COVID-19 causes further delays to whiplash reforms

For the second time within two months, proposed reforms to whiplash claims and small claims, which will change the way low-value personal injury claims are handled, have been delayed.  The reforms, which were originally due to be implemented in April 2019, will now come into force in April 2021.

The changes, which are proposed within the Civil Liability Bill, will:

  • limit the right to compensation for ‘minor’ soft tissue injuries (this includes whiplash) that last for less than two years, with compensation being paid on a sliding scale, starting at a proposed £235 for injuries lasting up to three months and £3,910 for injuries lasting 18 months to two years
  • raise the small claims limit for road traffic accident-related personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000, and to £2,000 for other personal injury claims.  This means that claims of less than these amounts will be transferred to the Small Claims Court and solicitor fees will not be recoverable – leaving some injured people with no legal advice or representation

Acting to ease disruption to affected sectors

Making the announcement on 21st April 2020, Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC, said that “now is not the time to press ahead with significant transformational change to the personal injury sector”.  Confirming that, whilst the reforms remain important to the government, he acknowledged that the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has had “an unprecedented impact on the medical, legal and insurance sectors” and that the government is “committed to acting to ease the disruption and pressures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak where it can.” He said that the delay should help the affected sectors to concentrate on working through the lockdown and the government to maintain “key services in the justice system”.

Changes won’t affect vulnerable road users

In his previous announcement on a delay, in which the reforms were to be put back to August 2020, Mr Buckland also clarified that vulnerable road users, such as motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians, as well as children and protected parties (those lacking capacity), will not be covered by the new rules and will continue to bring claims using the fast-track system, as is currently the case.  He also said that an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) element aimed at helping sort out issues when insurers disputed liability has been dropped as “no practicable solution which gave sufficient coverage of ADR for claims could be found”.

If you want to make a claim for injuries you have received in a motoring accident or any other type of accident, please contact our personal injury experts now.  We are all working safely and remotely and can discuss your case via telephone, video call or email and, if we can take on your case, we will offer you a no win, no fee arrangement. We are recommended in the Legal 500 and have won thousands of pounds in compensation for victims of road traffic and other accidents. You can find further information about making a personal injury claim following a road traffic accident on our website.

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