Posted on: 27 May 2021

How the new whiplash reforms impact personal injury claims

The whiplash reforms contained in the Civil Liability Act 2018, announced by the Government in October 2015, will at last come into effect from 31st May 2021. These reforms are designed to reduce the number and cost of road traffic accident whiplash claims through discouraging fraudulent claims which can lead to rising motor insurance premiums.

What is a whiplash injury?

It’s important to understand what the Act defines as a whiplash injury which is the:

“Injury of soft tissue in the neck, back or shoulder that is a sprain, strain, tear, rupture or lesser damage of a muscle, tendon or ligament in the neck, back or shoulder, or an injury of soft tissue associated with a muscle, tendon or ligament in the neck, back or shoulder.”

What do these changes mean?

These reforms apply to low value personal injury claims arising from a road traffic accident which includes whiplash injuries. Claimants will have the opportunity to settle these claims without the need to go to court or have legal representation.

The introduction of the Official Injury Claims portal

From the 31st May 2021 claimants from England and Wales should pursue a whiplash claim via the new online portal.  So, if you’ve been injured as a driver or passenger in a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be able to claim compensation using the Official Injury Claim (OIC) service for free and without legal help. Claimants will access and manage their claim through the OIC and insurers will have 30 days to make a liability decision.  It’s important to note that the reforms ban settlement on any claims without supporting medical evidence.

Whiplash compensation tariffs

Another significant change introduced with the reform is the introduction of two new fixed compensation tariffs for whiplash type injuries with a recovery period of up to two years (subject to certain exclusions).  These tariffs limit the compensation awarded for claimants pursuing whiplash injury claims.

Small Claims Track (SCT) limit

The limit for the Small Claims Track (the route to bring low value claims to court) will also increase from £1,000 to £5,000. This means if a claimant hires legal representation to assist with their whiplash claim and it’s below £5000 then these legal fees will not be recoverable from the compensating insurer (subject to certain exclusions).

To find out more in relation to the Whiplash Reform programme along with some frequently asked questions visit the government website for guidance.

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