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Legal Eagle: How looming changes to personal injury claims could affect you

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Some time ago, after consultation, the Government said it would make big changes to personal injury compensation law especially whiplash-type claims.

The changes which were scheduled for October 2018 are:

•Rise in small claims court limit for personal injury compensation claims from £10,00 to £2,000;

•Rise in small claims court limit for road traffic accident personal injury compensation claims from £10,00 to £5,000;

•Severe cutbacks in the level of fees paid to solicitors for road traffic accident personal injury compensation claims.

Big changes because, long story short, if a claim is below the small claims court limit and you win it, the other side doesn’t have to pay for your lawyer. So – you don’t have a lawyer and do it yourself.

Good luck with that if you are up against an insurance company – which you will be – who can afford to pay solicitors and barristers and whoever else they choose to hire if you decide to take them on.

Chances are – you lose.

And on the road traffic accident personal injury compensation claim front a lot of people in the field think it is highly likely that the changes are so great that whiplash style claims would become largely a thing of the past as and when and if these changes go ahead.

Things are not so clear now. David Lidington, who was the Justice Secretary and in charge of this area back in October 2017, said at the time that the changes WILL go ahead.

He was clear about that. But as to when, not so much. It will happen when “a legislative slot” is available. But Brexit is the priority, he said.

So it is all change for personal injury compensation claims, but we don’t know exactly when. And we still don’t know exactly WHY, really.

People don’t seem to talk so much about compensation claim culture as much these days as they used to do.

Maybe that is because the number of personal injury compensation claims gets smaller each year.

Insurance premiums don’t seem to decrease, though. Nor insurance company profits. Back in August 2017, for instance, it was reported that Direct Line posted a 9.5% increase in profit – putting operating profits up to £354.2 million. Nice work if you can get it.

Referring back to Brexit: as we know the Government is dead keen to get a good deal on financial services out of the EU after we leave the EU. Insurance is part of financial services.

Maybe driving down access to a lawyer when someone has a personal injury compensation claim to pursue by raising the small claim court limit will help insurers preserve or make even more profit.

And maybe looming large in the mind of the Government when it comes to personal injury compensation claims and whiplash injury claims is not fair access to a reasonable justice system, but the bottom line.

Ben Hoare Bell LLP has several specialist Personal Injury solicitors who can advise on potential claims. To speak to a solicitor please phone 0191 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk. Visit www.benhoarebell.co.uk for further information.