Shaun Burke, senior partner and head of litigation at Close Thornton LLP talks more about this new piece of legislation.
The world of ligation continues to be a complex one and, in many cases, the public are often unaware of changes until such time there is a situation and they need to act.
When it comes to the Civil Liability Bill my question is “Do you know what this Bill would mean to you if you were involved in a Road Traffic Accident and suffered a Whiplash injury?
The Bill, which is currently going through Parliament seeks to increase the small claims limit for RTA claims from £1000 to £5000.
This means that claims valued at beneath £5000 (which is the majority of whiplash claims we see) no legal costs would have been to be paid by insurers. Therefore, you will be left to either take on the insurers yourself or have your damages reduced by all your legal costs.
However, there is some light at the end of the tunnel as the Government has now announced that the £5000 limit will only apply to drivers and passengers in cars. The reforms do not apply to “vulnerable road users” such as cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders.
The distinction is because these users are indeed vulnerable; not having a large piece of metal around them or safety features such as air bags and seat belts. Furthermore, vulnerable road users usually suffer 2 impacts. The first being from the car and the second when they hit the road. Their injuries therefore tend to be more serious.
So as matters currently stand, once this Bill becomes law, if you were to suffer a whiplash injury in a car accident where you were in the car, it is likely that your access to proper compensation will be hampered by the reduced accessibility of legal advice from professionals in this area.
The Bill is in any event completely unnecessary! There has already been a dramatic reduction in the number of fraudulent and exaggerated whiplash claims brought over the last few years – and have the savings been passed to us by insurers in reduced premiums?