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How will the new whiplash laws affect road traffic accident victims?

As from April 2020, new laws, as part of the Civil Liability Act reforms will see the small claims limit for injuries sustained through a road traffic accident (RTA) rise from £1,000 to £5,000.

This means that any victims claiming for a value below this amount will no longer be able to reclaim the cost of legal representation and, this in turn, will result in a higher number of claimants representing themselves as a litigant in person.

Vulnerable road users and children will be exempt from the reforms.

This reform will also affect other types of personal injury, including accidents at work and slips and trips (occupiers liability claims).

How will victims of a RTA with a lower value make a claim?

In anticipation of the increased number of victims representing themselves, a new portal is being created by The Motor Insurers Bureau and other stakeholders.

The main steps on the new portal include:

  • Register
  • Create claim
  • Assign claim
  • Submit liability
  • Organise medical
  • Instruct provider
  • Agree medical report
  • Make and review offer
  • Issue compensation payment

A call centre is being put in place to support any claimants struggling to navigate the portal.

Providing medical reports.

The current expectation is that victims will have to instruct their own clinician in order to provide a medical expert’s diagnosis of injuries at a cost of £180 if the insurer refuses to accept any liability. If the case is successful, this cost will then need to be recovered.

The rules surrounding this are currently unclear. However, it has been agreed that if some liability is agreed, the cost of the report will be paid for by the at-fault insurer. Where it is denied, a bespoke ADR process is currently in the process of being created, in the form of paper-based system of neutral evaluation.

How will this affect RTA compensation claims?

With claimants having to ‘go it alone’, often with little or no legal experience, it is likely that claimants will have no way of knowing whether or not amounts offered are reasonable for the injuries they have sustained. In some cases, victims may also choose to not pursue a claim if they feel overwhelmed by the process and will instead, accept their injuries and suffer long term with no compensation.

If you think you may have a claim, you can contact us for free legal advice via email: info@shulaw.co.uk or speak to a member of our team via telephone on 0114 225 6666.

Once we have reviewed the basic details of your enquiry, one of our supervising solicitors will review it and contact you regarding the next steps. If we are not able to act for you in a case, we will try to help you find a lawyer who can.

*We may have to ask you to make an up-front payment to cover the cost of any third-party costs that we have to incur on your behalf (such as the cost of a medical report). We will then seek to recover those third-party costs from your opponent at the conclusion of the claim and reimburse you.

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