Personal Injury Claims March 2017
Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the proposed changes to personal injury claims.
I agree it is vital that anyone who has been the victim of a road traffic accident is able to fairly and effectively claim compensation for injuries they have suffered as a result of negligence. This must also be balanced against the need to ensure that insurance premiums are affordable for responsible motorists and that people are not able to make frivolous or fraudulent claims.
As I am sure you are aware, at the Spending Review and Autumn Statement in November 2015, the Chancellor announced plans to end the right to general damages for minor soft tissue injuries, including minor whiplash, and raise the Small Claims Track limit from £1000 to £5000. In November 2016, the Government launched a consultation, 'Reforming the soft tissue injury (whiplash) claims process', on the two measures outlined at the Autumn Statement 2015 and a further two measures. The consultation closed on 6 January 2017 and the Government expects to publish its response by 7 April 2017.
The Government has indicated that it will take its proposals forward in supporting legislation in the Justice Bill. It has also stated that it expects savings made by insurers to be passed on to drivers.
I understand that a number of organisations, including Access to Justice, the Association for Personal Injury Lawyers and the Law Society, have expressed concern about these proposals. I am also aware that there was a Government e-petition calling on the small claims track limit to remain at £1000 which attracted 24,398 signatures, before it closed after 6 months in May 2016.
While affecting the victims of road traffic accidents, I am also concerned that the proposed reforms to whiplash will also impact many others, including those injured at work. The current Small Claims Track limit has not been increased since 1991. However, the proposed increase to £5000 would exclude 90% of all personal injury claims. I am concerned that such a dramatic increase will undermine access to justice, effectively leaving people with legitimate claims without any legal representation for what can be complex cases.
I do not believe that there is a compensation culture in this country and while there is a difficult balance to strike, it is important that the interests of the victims and their genuine claims are given the consideration they are due. I believe that the Government now needs to listen carefully to the concerns that have been raised about their proposals.
I will be following this issue very closely and will bear in mind the points you raise.
Thank you once again for writing to me and for sharing your views.