Reforms to Restrict Awards for Whiplash Claims

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28 September, 2020

John Bennett

In the latest Civil Litigation Brief Gordon Exall makes reference to a new book and "The perceived compensation culture". It makes an interesting read dispelling some of the myths that there is a compensation culture in the UK.

As with all processes, there will be a few that take advantage and spoil it for the majority. The book rightly points out that £350,000 Compensation for being rendered totally blind as a result of someone else's fault represents very little if that individual has at least 35 years to live. £10,000 a year for being blind is very little. Granted there will be lots of other aspects to such a claim, involving the costs of care, adaptations and equipment, that would make an award in such case exceed seven figures.

Whilst there is lots of comments in the media that we are the Whiplash capital of Europe, the book highlights that this is also a myth. Inevitably some unscrupulous individuals will take advantage of the system, but the majority do not. Whiplash can be very painful and debilitating.

The government are about to introduce reforms to restrict awards for whiplash claims. If those reforms go through, anyone suffering such an injury after April 2021 may find a substantial reduction in the amount of compensation that they are entitled to. While some may applaud this and it will undoubtedly get rid of some of the more unscrupulous individuals involved in whiplash claims, there is a risk that the hard-working individual driving home after a hard days graft, doing a physically demanding job waiting at the traffic lights is hit from behind by another car. They suffer a whiplash injury. They are advised to rest and/or cannot physically return to their job the next few weeks. Unless they have a generous employer, who is prepared to continue paying them, they will suffer loss of earnings. They are entitled to claim those lost earnings back, providing they can prove them.

The other driver may engage accountants to challenge the level of claim or the calculation of the loss. If the individual is self-employed, they are likely to face challenge by a well-funded insurer engaging forensic accountants. The driver chooses to engage solicitors to help him. They are happy to help, but who is going to pay them?

The current scheme allows the lawyers to recover their costs from the insurers. Under the proposed scheme they will not be entitled to. The driver then has the choice to battle on on his own or pay the layers out of the damages. Depending on what is involved they could have a substantial reduction in the amount they receive in compensation. They may not recover all of their losses even though they were incurred through no fault of their own.

For more information contact John Bennett in our Personal Injury department via email or phone on 01254 872111. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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