Ministry of Justice publishes response to soft tissue injury claims consultation
The Ministry of Justice has now published the first part of the government’s response to the recent consultation on Reforming the soft tissue injury (‘whiplash’) claims process.
A copy of the full response is available here.
The response contains a number of important policy decisions which will shape the future of soft tissue injury claims, and which insurers should note.
- Introduction of fixed PSLA awards for soft tissue injuries lasting up to two years
The government has indicated that new fixed awards will be set in respect of PSLA in soft tissue injuries. The levels of compensation will be as follows:
Duration of injury
Amount of award
0 – 3 months
4 – 6 months
7 – 9 months
10 – 12 months
13 – 15 months
16 – 18 months
19 – 24 months
- Flexibility for judges to increase / decrease awards in exceptional circumstances
Judges will be provided with discretion to increase awards in ‘exceptional circumstances’.
The government response indicates that it is not intended to define ‘exceptional circumstances’ in legislation; this will be left to the discretion of the courts.
It is anticipated that this area of uncertainty may prove to be the source of satellite litigation.
Judges will retain the power to reduce awards to reflect contributory negligence.
- Prohibition of offers to settle without medical evidence
The government response has indicated an intention to bring forward legislation to ban insurers from making offers to settle cases without medical evidence in road traffic accident cases involving whiplash claims only.
It is proposed that there will be no exemptions from this prohibition, which is planned will be enforced by the relevant regulators.
- Increase in small claims limit for RTA personal injury claims to £5,000
The response indicates an intention to increase the small claims limit for RTA related claims to £5,000.
- Increase in small claims limit for non-RTA personal injury claims to £2,000
The government report indicates an intention to increase the small claims limit for non-RTA related personal injury claims to £2,000.It is further stated that the small claims limit will be kept under review in respect of all personal injury claims, and the government will consider whether a future increase in the small claims limit to £5,000 is warranted in respect of all personal injury claims.
The government has given a preliminary indication that the above measures will be implemented as a package on 01 October 2018.
These reforms are likely to result in not only a reduction in damages paid in soft-tissue injury claims, but in a fall in the overall volume of such claims.
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