New rules were introduced in the UK earlier this year which have hampered the ability for solicitors to act for people who have been hurt in a road traffic accident and who want to make a compensation claim.
The new claim guidelines apply to any compensation claim made after 31 May 2021. They stipulate that solicitors are no longer able to obtain costs from third party insurers if they are acting on a road traffic accident claim worth less than £5,000.
Previously, solicitors could represent you for any small claim worth £1,000 or more. If you won your case, you could also recover a part of your legal costs from the defendant’s insurance company. This allowed solicitors to act on a no win no fee basis as upfront payments were not required.
The changes only apply to motor vehicle users. Vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, scooter riders, horse riders and mobility scooter users are all exempt from the new rules, and the limit will remain at £1,000.
Other exemptions include:
- claims brought by children who are under the age of 18 when the claim is brought;
- claims brought by ‘protected parties’ (that is, those who lack mental capacity);
- claims involving someone who has died.
If you have been involved in a road traffic accident since 31 May this year and sustained only minor injuries, you may still be able to make a claim but you will probably need to manage the claim yourself via the Government’s new Official Injury Claim Service (OIC) service.
This would mean filling out and submitting a claim form, dealing with the other party’s insurers to try and get them to admit liability, interpreting medical reports and engaging a medical expert to assess the extent of your injuries and the affect they have had on your life.
Of course, it is impossible to tell for sure how much your injury claim is going to be worth, but the OIC service does provide some guidance to help you understand what level of tariff may apply, and some tariffs are fixed by law.
For example, under the Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021 the maximum amount you will receive for a whiplash injury ranges from £240 if the effects of the injury last not more than three months, rising in a sliding scale up to £4,215 for more than 18 months but less than 24 months.
Up to £130 can be added if you also suffer psychological damage because of your injury and the court does have the discretion to increase the award in ‘exceptional circumstances’ but this is limited to 20 per cent of the fixed sums. You can also claim for any financial losses under the new process, so you should keep any invoices or receipts connected to your injury to use as evidence for your claim.
If you feel you cannot manage a claim yourself, you can still instruct a specialist personal injury solicitor. However, you will need to be able to pay their legal fees or the amount will be deducted from your compensation award.
For more information on claiming compensation for a road traffic accident injury, or any other personal injury issue, contact Therese Classon, a Partner at WBW Solicitors in Newton Abbot, on 01626 202328 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.