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Whiplash Reforms Announced

  • United Kingdom
  • Litigation and dispute management
  • Personal injury claims litigation

28-02-2017

What are the changes?

The MOJ have announced the result of the consultation that has been taking place in relation to soft tissue injuries. Whiplash injuries currently account for about 90% of all RTA claims. The government hope that the changes will reduce the overall spend on these minor injuries by £1 billion per year enabling motor insurer to lower insurance premiums. The changes announced are as follows:-

  1. Small claims limit for RTA injury claims  is  to increase to £5,000
  2. Small claims limit for Non-RTA injury claims is to  increase to £2,000
  3. The introduction of a matrix for all whiplash and other soft tissue injury  RTA claims (to include travel anxiety) for all claims up to 24 months.  The matrix below shows the average damages paid in 2015, the current court guidelines and the new tariff amounts that the changes will introduce:

Injury Duration           

2015 average payment for Pain Suffering and Loss of Amenity

Current Judicial College Guideline amounts  

New tariff amounts    

0–3 months

£1,750

A few hundred pounds to £2,050

£225

4–6 months

£2,150

£2,050 to £3,630

£450

7–9 months

£2,600

£2,050 to £3,630

£765

10–12 months

£3,100

£2,050 to £3,630

£1,190

13–15 months

£3,500

£3,630 to £6,600

£1,820

16–18 months

£3,950

£3,630 to £6,600

£2,660

19–24 months

£4,500

£3,630 to £6,600

£3,725

  1. The court will have discretion to increase the tariff by 20% for “exceptional circumstances” but the MOJ have not defined what these circumstances might be
  2. The introduction of a ban on making offers and asking for offers for whiplash claims without medical evidence

The MOJ has given a date of 1 October 2018 as the date the changes will come into effect as a package.

What will be the result?

The changes will result in a dramatic reduction in the amount of damages due to the claimant following a whiplash or other soft tissue injury. Whether it is the government’s intention or not, the level of damages for injuries that recover within 6 months are likely to not make them worth the effort of pursuing for many people, particularly as the new level of damages will mean that all RTA injuries that recover within 2 years will be within the small claims track where legal costs are not recoverable and the use of lawyers becomes uneconomic for claimants. This is likely to lead to many fewer claims being brought. The prospect of recovering only a small amount of compensation and having to deal with the insurers and courts on their own is likely to put people off. Those that do proceed with their claim will be unrepresented. This is unlikely to go smoothly. All involved in defending these claims know how much more time a claimant acting in person takes up. That will be doubly true when they come to deal with the courts who are already overstretched. Those claims that do proceed are likely to be more difficult and expensive to defend as a result.

The ban on offers without a medical is designed to reduce fraud but will force insurers to incur delay and cost on many claims where the level of damages is fixed at £225 and which they might otherwise have settled quickly and cheaply.

It remains to be seen whether the overall savings envisaged will actually materialise. The announcement yesterday of a reduction in the discount rate to –0.75 is likely to increase the costs of claims for RTA insurers well in excess of the savings here.

For more information contact

Carl Hurle, Senior Legal Assistant

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