One of the most common injuries obtained in car accidents is whiplash, (hyperextension of the neck). The government have announced new legislation for whiplash reforms, including the level of compensation that can be awarded in a small claim, a new tariff to assess whiplash injury claims and a new portal to claim without legal representation.
These new rules announced came into effect on 31st May 2021.
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What are the new whiplash claim rules?
The limit in small claims
The limit in small claims for personal injury RTA (Road Traffic Accident) claims will be increased up to £5,000 conditional to the exceptions (see below) meaning that claims up to the sum of £5,000 will no longer be able to claim back legal representation fees and is intended to reduce fraudulent whiplash claims. If a claimant has legal representation when they make a claim below £5,000, the legal costs will not be allowed to be recovered from the insurers. It is the intention that individuals should be representing themselves for small claims.
A fixed amount tariff will be introduced to put a stop to disagreement about the amount that will be awarded, as it will be fixed in law, fixed at £240 for injuries that do not last longer than 3 months, compared to the current £2200. For every 3 months that injuries continue beyond this, the levels increase and can continue to as much as £4,215 for injuries lasting 24 months. However, this tariff will only apply to claims for injuries with minor psychological injuries. In exceptional circumstances, the claimant will be able to request a 20% uplift on the tariff if themselves and the medical professional agree, this will only occur if the court agrees that the injuries are ‘exceptionally severe’.
The new portal system has been developed so that claimants can administer their personal injury claims directly and do not need to use lawyers or claims management companies.
Pre-medical offers will be banned. Insurers cannot make an offer before a medical examination has occurred, nor can the claimant request one. Every injury claim that is made for whiplash will require a medical expert report.
Claims that involve a child or protected parties, as predicted will not be seen as a small claim
What do these new rules mean for claims?
These new rules coming into place on 31st May are intended to reduce claimants insurance costs for small personal injury claims.
They will only apply to accidents that have occurred on or after the changes come into place.
The portal is intended to make it easy for individuals to claim without needing legal representation.
They will also provide a form of regulation to claims to ensure only genuine parties will be successful when making a claim. These steps taken will ensure control over the costs of whiplash claims as well as providing proportional compensation to genuine claims.
How to make a whiplash Claim
So, how do you make a whiplash claim from 31st May 2021?
When making a whiplash claim, it is important initially to establish if you are eligible to do so; you must have suffered from a whiplash injury in no longer than the last 3 years.
The RTA must also have been partially or fully at the fault of somebody else. You can also claim at any time on behalf of a child under the age of 18 at the time of the accident. The three-year limit will be applicable after their 18th birthday, and they will have until their 21st birthday to make the claim.
Initially, you must gather evidence of your whiplash for the claim. Under new rules, you must have a medical report that will support your claim before you can pursue it. Claims without a medical expert report cannot be pursued.
Can you prove that you have whiplash?
A whiplash injury can be proved by getting a medical assessment and diagnosis, made up of the symptoms you are suffering with. It is best to see your doctor as soon as possible to receive the right treatment and also to enhance your case for making a claim. The medical professional may also request an MRI, CT or X-Ray to confirm the diagnosis. However, the injury may not always be seen, as the injury may be located in a piece of anatomy that is too small to be seen in these examinations.
What evidence do you need for a whiplash claim?
For a whiplash claim, you will need as much evidence that you can provide, this could include photos, witnesses’ details from the incident or statements, as well as any medical reports involving your injuries.
Is it hard to claim whiplash?
Minor whiplash injuries can be difficult to prove, as in the majority of cases they cannot be seen on medical examinations, also, some symptoms may occur immediately after the incident, however, some symptoms may develop later on.
Do whiplash claims get rejected?
Whiplash claims may be rejected if they are not submitted within 3 years (for claimants over the age of 18) they will also be rejected if the RTA was your fault/ you staged the incident. Due to the new legislation, claims made must have a medical assessment otherwise the claim cannot be pursued.