While reform proposals have been talked about for the last 12 to 18 months, the government announced on the 12th February that Whiplash reforms will be introduced in April of 2019. These plans have been met with uproar from members of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS), the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and the Law Society.
The reform date announcement also comes before the report on raising the lower limit for claims generally has been published by the justice select committee. The reforms will increase the limit for whiplash claims to £5,000 and £2,000 for other PI cases and means that legal costs will not be recoverable from a Defendant in addition to compensation.
The initial focus of the reform will be implementing the changes in relation to road traffic accident accidents (for example, whiplash claims), while the changes for other types of personal injury will come in at a later date. There was some relief that ministers had heeded advice on the importance of introducing the changes in stages, but representatives from MASS, APIL and the Law Society have said that they will continue to fight the reforms.
In the Law Society's argument submitted to the select committee, they outlined the extensive steps that can be required even in low-value personal injury claims and also highlighted new research findings showing 76% of medical experts would not accept instructions from claimants without a lawyer.
How this might affect you: these changes will mean people injured through no fault of their own will struggle to get justice.
Commenting on the proposals Stephen Green, head of Fosters Personal Injury department said, "once again the government has kowtowed to insurers and listened to the unsupported anecdotal evidence of a few Defendants. Once again it is Claimants who will lose out as they will be effectively denied access to specialist solicitors - unless they are prepared to pay for such advice from their own damages."
If you will be affected by the personal injury reforms, either in a road traffic accident or in another personal injury matter, then please contact us and take the opportunity to speak to one of our Personal Injury solicitors in Norwich. We can be contacted on 0800 731 8539 or email us.