New proposals to limit lower-value injury claims are not yet written in stone
Previously in this column I have written about insurer-led government plans to reform the compensation system for lower-value injury claims. If implemented unchanged, these plans could effectively ban many soft tissue injury claims – and this may seriously erode your ability to access justice when you need it the most.
Earlier this year the government announced plans to implement its new injury claim rules at the beginning of 2019, despite howls of protest from lawyers seeking to protect the rights of accident victims. However, we are still waiting for the Civil Liability Bill, the legislative vehicle that will formally implement these changes – it is not too late to influence the letter of this law and persuade the government that what is good for insurance company profits often comes at the expense of their customers’ rights.
The proposed reforms are intended to increase the value threshold for allowable small claims and they include a clause effectively preventing ‘minor’ soft tissue injury compensation claims, although the term ‘minor’ is yet to be clearly defined. Currently, the lower limit for reclaiming legal costs is £1,000 – the new proposals raise this limit to £5,000. This would capture some 80 per cent of all personal injury claims and inevitably result in many injured people facing alone the might and wealth of corporate insurers and their lawyers, without expert legal help or guidance. In practice, it is likely many simply would not bother, and insurers would be left laughing all the way to the bank – perhaps literally.
Even victims who do have the confidence and financial means to pursue their own claims will be at the mercy of their insurer, who will direct how the claim is managed and decide how much compensation is paid.
I am repeatedly instructed by claimants who have allowed their insurer to ‘manage’ their claim and who have, as a consequence, either failed to receive the rehabilitation they require or have received woefully poor insurance settlement offers – or both. Should we, then, give our blessings to a new law that would effectively dispense access to justice according to the interests of corporate insurers’ balance sheets?General, George Ide, News, Personal Injury Blog