The new official injury claims service – why you should still seek legal advice
Have you had a whiplash injury from a road traffic accident and are you thinking about making a claim for compensation as a result? If so, you need to be aware that the Government has introduced a new system for processing whiplash and other small injury claims arising from road traffic accidents, known as “Official Injury Claims”, which went live on Monday 31 May 2021. You also need to be aware, however, that the reforms do not apply in all cases and if you are not careful, you risk selling yourself short if you blindly make use of the new procedure, without seeking proper legal advice first.
So, why has the new procedure been introduced? The official aim of the reforms is to reduce insurance costs for motorists by tackling the high number and cost of whiplash claims, often said to be inflated by fraudulent claims.
In seeking to achieve that aim, however, the reforms may potentially come at a cost to innocent victims of road traffic accidents who suffer a ‘whiplash’ type soft tissue injury to the neck, back or shoulder which is expected to resolve within 2 years of an accident. In place of the Court assessment that used to take place, a tariff system has been introduced to determine the damages to be awarded for such injuries. Under the tariff system, injured claimants are likely to receive significantly less compensation than they would have done under the previous, court assessment procedure.
Further, innocent victims of whiplash and other relatively minor injuries from road traffic accidents will not be able to recover the legal costs they incur in obtaining legal advice for pursuing such claims. Instead, those innocent victims will be forced to pursue their own claims through the Official Injury Claims Website.
It is important however that you do not allow yourself to be put off from seeking legal advice. Failure to seek advice may mean that you underestimate the seriousness of your injury and do not receive the damages you are really entitled to. Despite the reforms, there are still likely to be many claims which should not be pursued via the Official Injury Claims system. In those cases compensation will still be assessed by the courts and solicitors’ costs will continue to be recoverable (provided that damages for the injury exceed £1,000), as before. The exceptions are not obvious but include, amongst a host of others:-
- Claims for personal injury not arising from road traffic accidents
- Claims for personal injury sustained in road traffic accidents:
– where the amount claimed for injuries exceeds £5,000.
– where the total claim exceeds £10,000 in value.
In cases that are not covered by these reforms, the previous system of claiming compensation and of receiving damages assessed by reference to the specific facts of your case will continue to apply and you will still be able to recover legal costs in the same way as before the reforms.
So do not let the new rules deter you. You only get one shot at claiming compensation; get it wrong and the error could be costly. Seek advice from the professionals or you risk not being able to recover the compensation that your injuries merit.
Thursfields Personal Injury Team can assist and advise you.
Please contact Bernadette Mackie on 0345 20 73 72 8 or firstname.lastname@example.org