17 May, 2021
The Times newspaper recently reported that a former BBC presenter was presented a multimillion-pound compensation after suffering whiplash while imitating a car crash in a science program Jem Stansfield was filming, Bang goes the theory, in 2014 when he was strapped to a cart and catapulted along a track into a metal pole. He claimed that he suffered a debilitating whiplash injury, brain damage and psychological scars which cost him his career.
The government are about to introduce some changes severely restricting the right to claim compensation for whiplash, fixing the compensation payable to £240 for a three-month injury rising to £4,215 for 24 months. At the same time the small claims limit will be increased to £5,000, which means legal costs will not be recoverable.
The government are also introducing a new system to deal with these claims, based on the existing claims portal and Medco system for instructing medical experts. They believe the system will be simplified and easy to use without the need to employ a lawyer. Despite this assurance the guide and rules governing process run to more than 200 pages. It is hoped the insurers will deal with the claims sensibly and proportionately. It should however be born in mind that they do have a vested interest in ensuring that compensation is kept to a minimum. They have a duty to their shareholders to make a profit. They will be well funded, have the expertise to deal with claims and easy access to legal advice. That the innocent driver or passenger conducting the claim will not have the benefit of that advice.
While some will welcome the whiplash reforms, only time will tell as to how well this new process will work in practice. Innocent motorists who suffer injuries and have time off work and suffer other losses may find the process somewhat daunting. Whilst they are still at liberty to instruct their own solicitor, they will not be able to recover their costs, unless they can justify the value of their claim being an excess of £5,000 for their injuries or as in Mr Stansfield's case, have a large claim for other losses which will take the claim above the level of £10,000 where costs are then recoverable.
If you have been involved in an accident and suffered a whiplash injury before the 1st of June, we will be happy to assist and should be able to cover our costs of pursuing a claim on your behalf. If you are unlucky enough to be involved in an accident after the 1st of June, you will not be able to recover our costs, although we will be offering a fixed fee service. If of course you suffered a significant injury, other than a soft tissue you should be entitled to recover your costs from the other party or their insurers.
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.