New rules for whiplash compensation claims
Catherine Hyde, personal injury specialist at Coodes Solicitors outlines new rules for whiplash compensation claims, which will come into force on 31 May 2021.
On 31 May 2021, new rules affecting anyone seeking compensation following a whiplash injury will come into force. The long-awaited changes include a new tariff system and an online portal for those pursuing a whiplash claim.
The launch has been delayed a number of times since the reforms were outlined in the Civil Liability Act 2018.
The new legislation will affect anyone who wants to seek compensation for a whiplash injury they suffered in a road traffic accident from 31 May onwards.
New tariff for whiplash claims
The key change is the limit on the value of whiplash claims. Damages will be limited to £240 for injuries that last no more than three months. This will then increase for every additional three months that the injury continues, reaching a potential £4,215 for an injury that lasts for two years.
If someone has incurred more than one whiplash injury in the same accident, the tariff will be calculated based on the longest-lasting injury. The tariff will also include minor psychological injuries sustained as a result of the accident.
The legislation allows for a 20% increase in cases that are deemed to be extraordinary. This will be a matter for the courts to decide.
Launch of the Official Injury Claim portal
The introduction of the new legislation is set to coincide with the launch of the Official Injury Claim portal. Claimants will use this online tool to seek compensation for a soft tissue injury. That means the majority of these claims will no longer go through the courts.
However, we would encourage anyone to seek legal advice to establish the best way for them to seek compensation.
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Medical reports will be required for every whiplash claim
Motor insurers currently often make offers for whiplash claims prior to medical reports being issued. This will no longer be possible, under the new rules. Any claim will need to be supported by a medical report before being pursued via the portal.
Exemptions to the new limit
Since the reforms were first raised in the Civil Liability Act, there have been debates on their fairness. The legislation has taken into account some of the concerns raised. That means there are some exemptions to the new limit on whiplash claims. These are:
- Claims on behalf of children injured in a road traffic accident
- Whiplash claims on behalf of anyone who lacks mental capacity. This could include someone with dementia, a learning difficulty or mental illness.
It is also important to note that the new rules will only apply to injuries sustained in accidents that occurred on or after 31 May 2021. If you already have a compensation claim underway, this will not change the way your damages are awarded. If you are not yet pursuing a claim, but have suffered a whiplash injury in a road traffic accident before 31 May, again, the new legislation will not apply to you.