Whiplash Claims in the UK – Legal Updates Affecting RTA Claims

Brought to you by our friends at Accident Claims Web

Contribution from our friends at Accident Claims Web, providing legal advice and assistance on UK road traffic claims in the UK.

In November of last year, Chancellor George Osborne announced major changes affecting whiplash personal injury claims. The changes are part of a move to tackle ‘compensation culture’ in the UK that may be having a negative effect on insurance companies.

However, the announcement of the proposed changes to the law is causing problems for not only whiplash victims but also law firms and prominent personal injury bodies. 

Proposed Changes Affecting Whiplash Claims
In the Autumn statement, the Chancellor announced a number of changes that will affect personal injury law and in particular, whiplash claims. Firstly, the small claims limit for personal injury claims will be raised from £1000 to £5000. Also, courts are to be prohibited from issuing general damages for minor soft tissue injuries – such as whiplash. This means that sufferers of whiplash will not be compensated things such as pain, suffering and loss of amenity. Whiplash victims will still be permitted to make claims for special damages so cover things such as loss of earnings of costs of any medical treatment required, so long as they can provide sufficient evidence to make their claim. 

However, the practical application of the proposed changes in the law will mean that as general damages are no longer to be awarded for such claims, in order to make a claim for whiplash the special damages claim of the victim must be worth £10,000. This is a great restriction on making a whiplash claim and will eliminate a great number of cases.

The effect of the proposed changes has already affected personal injury firms. Personal injury firm, Slater & Gordon, has lost half its value after the announcement. The Australian company’s shares dropped 51pc to A$0.94 The company said: 

“While the Government’s announcement was unexpected, the company believes that the scale and diversity of the Slater Gordon Solutions business in the UK positions it well to deal with the potential impact of any future legislative change," 

The problems with the new whiplash proposals have provoked backlash from prominent legal organizations. The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, the Motor Accident Solicitors Society and the Law Society have come together to fight the proposals, largely backed by the insurance industry, which they deem to be "a red line issue". They will respond to the consultation expected to be pushed in March 2016. Each of the organizations will submit a separate response, each conveying a unified and uniform message about the proposals. 

It will be interesting to see the effect of the changes in the personal injury claims industry when, and if, the new law comes into force as proposed. The government has indicated that it plans to introduce the general damages reform in April 2017, however at present; there is no indication of when and if the small claims limit will be at the same time or earlier.


Book recommendation: Tomorrow's Lawyers: An Introduction To Your Future by Richard Susskind

In his newest provocative and forward-looking volume on the legal profession, Richard Susskind-the best-selling author of The End of Lawyers? and The Future of Law-predicts fundamental and irreversible changes in the world of law. What Susskind sees is eye-opening-a legal world of virtual courts, Internet-based global legal businesses, online document production, commoditised service, legal process outsourcing, and web-based simulated practice. Legal markets will be liberalised, with new jobs for lawyers and new employers too. Tomorrow's Lawyers is a definitive guide to this future--for young and aspiring lawyers, and for all who want to modernise our legal and justice systems. It introduces the new legal landscape and offers practical guidance for those who intend to build careers and businesses in law. Susskind identifies the key drivers of change, such as the economic downturn, and considers how these will shape the legal marketplace. He then sketches out the new legal landscape as he envisions it, highlighting the changing role of law firms-and in-house lawyers-and the coming of virtual hearings and online dispute resolution. He also suggests solutions to major concerns within the legal profession, such as diminishing public funding, and explores alternative roles for future lawyers in a world increasingly dominated by It. And what are the prospects for aspiring lawyers? Susskind predicts what new jobs and new employers there will be, equipping prospective lawyers with penetrating questions to put to their current and future bosses. Available from Amazon.


Book recommendation: 21st Century Solicitor by Steve Weiner

This might be news: success as a twenty-first century solicitor is not dependent on your technical aptitude alone. Sorry. As well as the basic requirements of understanding and applying the law superbly, you are also now expected to master a whole suite of so-called 'soft skills' -- communicating empathetically, acting commercially, writing carefully, presenting brilliantly, networking sensibly and building relationships enthusiastically. These skills might be called 'soft' by our industry, but the reality is that they are both incredibly hard and vitally important -- especially as a junior commercial lawyer keen to make a likeable, professional, commercial and lasting positive impression on those in control of your embryonic career. Written by a lawyer with unique experience as a commercial practitioner, trainer and law-firm voyeur, this no-nonsense 'how to' guide is an honest, punchy and modern look at all the skills you don't get taught at law school, yet are absolutely critical to achieving success from day one of your life as a twenty-first century solicitor. Available from Amazon.

Book recommendation: In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences by Truman Capote

The chilling true crime 'non-fiction novel' that made Truman Capote's name, In Cold Blood is a seminal work of modern prose, a remarkable synthesis of journalistic skill and powerfully evocative narrative published in Penguin Modern Classics. Controversial and compelling, In Cold Blood reconstructs the murder in 1959 of a Kansas farmer, his wife and both their children. Truman Capote's comprehensive study of the killings and subsequent investigation explores the circumstances surrounding this terrible crime and the effect it had on those involved. At the centre of his study are the amoral young killers Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock, who, vividly drawn by Capote, are shown to be reprehensible yet entirely and frighteningly human. Available from Amazon.