The planned reforms set to come in by April 2019 will introduce a tariff system for damages in relation to soft tissue injuries, and will increase the small claims limit for road traffic accident related claims from £1,000.00 to £5,000.00. The question that is raised is whether the reform is a positive change that is needed for road traffic accident claims or whether the reform will do more harm than good, to people who suffer road traffic accidents.
The problems with the reform
The reform will mean that people who suffer soft tissue damages and minor physiological damages will struggle to get the compensation they deserve, or they may not be compensated at all. The tariff award has been changed to the following:
|Injury Duration (months)||2015 average payment for PSLA (industry data) (£)||Judicial College Guidelines (13th edition) (£)||New tariff amounts (£)|
|0-3||1,750||Up to 2,050||225|
|4-6||2,150||2,050 – 3,630||450|
|7-9||2,600||2,050 – 3,630||765|
|10-12||3,100||2,050 – 3,630||1,190|
|13-15||3,500||3,630 – 6,600||1,820|
|16-18||3,950||3,630 – 6,600||2,660|
|19-24||4,500||3,630 – 6,600||3,725|
If you have suffered soft tissue damage or have been affected psychologically following a road traffic accident through no fault of your own, you can understand the need people will have to get justice. The reform is just making it harder for people to get the compensation they deserve. As you can see from the above table, there is a major change in the amount you are able to claim dependant on the length of time you have suffered your injury.
The Ministry of Justice have also stated that the judiciary will have the power to reduce a tariff award in instances of contributory negligence and they will also be able to increase a tariff award by up to 20% in the event of exceptional circumstances. They will have discretion to determine what counts as exceptional circumstances to allow the uplift.
This reform will also have an effect on people who try to claim compensation themselves, as it has been seen that layman have found it hard to obtain medical evidence, as most medical agencies are not open for direct access to the public. People will then have no choice but have to go to solicitors no matter how small their injury is or how straightforward their matter is. Claims that will be brought forward by individuals and not solicitors are clearly unfair for individuals, as there is a grave difference in the Defendant insurer’s position and understanding of the law and the individual Claimant. Insurance companies have expert knowledge of the claim process whereas a Claimant will not as it may be their first claim for which they are seeking compensation for. Therefore, this could have an adverse affect on the Claimants, as their claim will be dominated by the insurance company and insurance companies will want to pay the lowest amount possible.
Benefits of the reforms
If we look at the benefits of the reform, would we be persuaded that this reform will be for the best? The aim is to reduce fraudulent claims, which has an affect on the premium of drivers. The reform will mean motorists will be able to save around £35 on their motor premiums. Throughout the years, the number of fraudulent claims is on a rise as courts are cracking down by giving people who make fraudulent claims sentences which could include imprisonment. There is a recent case whereby a husband and wife have been found guilty of contempt of court; a link is attached for full details of their case http://tgchambers.com/news-and-resources/news/husband-wife-guilty-contempt-court/.
Solicitors will also be banned from making, soliciting, and accepting an offer of settlement without first having obtained medical evidence in support of the injury their client has suffered. At MTG Solicitors, we have a firm policy to not accept offers being made without obtaining medical evidence and do advise our clients against it as the valuation of a personal injury claim is determined through obtaining medical evidence, which is the client’s evidence of their accident. So this is a positive step which the reform will be taking.
Now that both the positives and negatives of the reform have been highlighted, it is clear that the negative outweighs the positives, as the reform will mean that people who have suffered an injury through no fault of their own will not be able to obtain the compensation they deserve. This may also hinder people to reach out get compensation, under the belief that their injury falls under the tariff. This will also have an effect on people who try to claim compensation themselves. There should be further checks and thought put into this reform, as individuals will suffer greatly.
We can help you
Should you wish to discuss your personal injury matter in more detail, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
This blog has been prepared by Amrit Kaur Matharoo, a Trainee Solicitor at MTG Solicitors, on 16th April 2018.