Government seeks to restrict personal injury compensation

The Government has confirmed its intention to introduce further changes to the law applicable to personal injury compensation with the introduction of the Civil Liability Bill.

Under the terms of the Bill which is passing through The House of Lords at present, there will be sweeping changes to the way in which claims can be made for personal injury compensation arising from road traffic accidents and in particular claims for whiplash injuries  (the term generally used for soft tissue injuries affecting the neck or back).

It is proposed that the present system for claiming compensation and for valuing awards for whiplash claims where symptoms last no longer than 24 months will be replaced with a simplified claims process. Under this process compensation will be awarded by reference to a matrix rather than by a judge. The compensation levels presently proposed under the matrix would be significantly lower than the average sums presently awarded by the courts.

In addition, the small claims limit presently set at £1000 for personal injury claims is to rise to £5000 for road traffic accident claims which are not restricted to whiplash injuries and £2000 for non-road traffic accident claims, such as accidents at work. Where claims fall into the small claims track no legal costs are recoverable in addition to the compensation. In such circumstances legal costs would have to be met out of the damages received.

Accordingly, the intended legislation is likely to significantly restrict access to a solicitor for low value personal injury claims and in many circumstances result in substantially lower awards of compensation.

Whilst no definite date for implementation has been confirmed, justice officials have indicated that the reforms will be ready to come into force by April 2019.

For further information see here.

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