Government proposals just published will potentially remove the right of ordinary people to receive full and proper compensation for injuries that they have suffered through no fault of their own.
Cap on compensation
The proposals include imposing a cap on compensation for smaller whiplash injuries or removing the right to compensation for these claims altogether as well as introducing a tariff system for dealing with more serious injuries.
This will mean that innocent victims who have sustained painful and debilitating whiplash injuries through no fault of their own will not be able to recover proper compensation for their injury.
No specialist legal help
The Government has also proposed imposing a five-fold increase in the small claims limit for personal injury claims, which would prevent the majority of claimants from being able to recover the costs of legal representation. This would mean that ordinary people would have no option but to fight their claims without specialist legal help against huge insurance companies who have unlimited resources.
‘David and Goliath situation’
‘These proposals will completely undermine the right of ordinary people to receive full and proper compensation from those that have injured them – often seriously – through negligence,’ Law Society President Robert Bourns said.
‘People may be tempted to try to bring claims themselves without expert advice. This will clog up the court system, creating a David and Goliath situation where people recovering from their injuries act as litigants in person without legal advice – those defending claims can often afford to pay for legal advice. This undermines ordinary people’s ability to access justice – especially if defendants refuse to accept liability, forcing people to fight through the courts without legal help.”
Justice Minister, Liz Truss sought to justify the plans on the grounds of the number of whiplash claims being made, even though claims have fallen in recent years.
Government argues consumers will benefit
The Government maintain that the huge savings insurers will make from the proposed reforms will be passed on to consumers through reduced premiums, even though insurers have failed to pass on the significant savings they have made following the last government reforms. These previous reforms slashed the costs the insurers have to pay to victims for legal representation, meaning victims have to pay the difference out of their own damages.
The Government’s consultation on Reforming the soft tissue injury (whiplash) claims process deadline for responses is 6th January 2017.