17 September 2013
The Commons Transport Select Committee has advised against government plans to move whiplash claims to the small claims track, the lower limit of which is being raised from £1,000 to £5,000.
The change will mean that those with claims worth less than £5,000 will be forced to fund the legal process of making a claim themselves. Many people who have been injured cannot afford representation and do not have the knowledge or confidence to represent themselves throughout a difficult process. These people may not receive the compensation they deserve, having to accept whatever insurance companies offer.
The government’s proposal is a response to the supposed cost of exaggerated whiplash claims to those insuring vehicles. Britain is thought to be ‘the whiplash capital of the world’, and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling argues that it will make fraudulent claims less likely to occur. There is a concern that while road accidents are becoming less common, injury claims are on the increase, and that this could be adding £90 to insurance premiums.
MPs are concerned however that the changes will diminish access to justice for those with small but genuine claims. Part of the government’s proposal is to make medical reports supporting whiplash claims more thorough. MPs warn, however, that not all whiplash injuries can be detected by scans, and that it risks demonising claimants who cannot provide extensive evidence.
Those with low value claims who cannot afford to instruct a lawyer will be up against insurance companies using legal representatives to contest claims. The committee has expressed surprise at the government’s sympathy with insurance companies, and its lack of concern with injured parties.
Victoria Pryer is a Paralegal at Advance Legal. Please contact Victoria or another member of the team on 0800 068 00 69 and they will be happy to discuss your compensation claim with you.