There have been a number of recent changes to the law governing whiplash claims. The background to this is the Government’s concern that there has been widespread fraud by Claimants making claims for exaggerated or non-existent whiplash injuries. This, together with the idea that the compensation culture has gone out of control has led the Government to introduce checks and balances to ensure that all future claims are genuine.
The reforms began some years ago with the introduction of fixed fees for solicitor’s costs in road traffic claims. This reform continued in April 2013, with the implementation of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, which came into force last year in April 2013. This act made sweeping changes to all personal injury claims.
From then all road traffic claims with a value of up to £25,000.00, would need to be registered on the Claims Portal and in addition fixed costs were further reduced. The Claims portal was the Government’s attempt to simplify the process surrounding road traffic cases and as a result to further reduce the fixed fees recoverable. These reforms were supported by insurers and the ABI, in order to try and reduce the number of claims made and subsequently the cost of motor premiums.
Further reforms have been introduced this year to ensure that only genuine claims can be made. From the beginning of this year a directory has been set up for experts. Claimants can only use certified medical agencies and experts to prevent further fraud. Fixed fees have also been introduced for medical reports. The reasoning behind this is to discourage pre-med settlements and also to introduce independence into the medical legal reporting frame work.
From the 4 June 2015, a further amendment has been made to the rules governing whiplash claims. From that date, any claim registered on the Claims portal notification form sent on or after that date must show a unique reference number that is generated by a search of a database. This database will ascertain whether the Claimant has made frequent or numerous claims for whiplash. This again, is to ensure that there are no duplicate or fraudulent claims. All these steps mean that it has become difficult to make whiplash claims.
Unfortunately, it has also become uneconomic for many solicitors to take on these cases as the fixed costs recoverable are so low that it is not economic to pursue these cases. There is always the opportunity to take out a success fee from the Claimants damages of up to 25%. We, however, in order to remain competitive in the market place, do not take success fee from our client. Claimants are frequently shopping around to find the most competitive solicitor to take on their case.
If you would like more information on whiplash claims, speak to our Personal Injury Solicitor, Zahreen Hussain on 020 7998 7777 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.