If the stories circulating today have even a grain of truth then the innocentvictims (a phrase which apparently bears repeating!) or motor accidents are in for a torrid future.
I wrote several months ago about proposal to limit damages in whiplash claims based on
the time taken to claim, which is an absolute farce under the current law, and
it appears that the government and insurance lobby have their answer – change thelaw.
If the suggestions of having a different small claims limits or limitation periods for
whiplash claim were ever enacted we would be faced with the utterly ridiculous
situation whereby someone might actually be better off being more badlyinjured! (at least in terms of their ability to obtain access to justice).
Just for clarity I am not a bleeding heart who wishes to see money thrown at (or in the
case of true fraud stolen) for piffling injuries or ruthless claimants. However, the mooted
changes do not affect those persons – they affect real victims.
My most recent RTA client is an elderly lady who was injured by a
driver pulling out of a side street and into her vehicle, and who tried to
manage her symptoms and is only resorting to the law as she still is better some
13 months later. Is she a fraudsters who should be denied her recompense forinjuries for which she bares no blame?
The small claims limit change could lead to even more egregious injustices if brought
into effect. I am not sure if anyone outside of the profession realizes just how
badly injured one would need to be to obtain more than £5,000 for a whiplash
type injury, but based on the current version of the Judicial College
Guidelines one might require a period of discomfort at least 18 months to reach
damages of that level. Imagine being injured for over a year and being told
that you cannot get access to a solicitor (by virtue of the lack of recoverablelegal fees) to assist in the proper resolution of your claim!!
The government really need to think about this hard and to listen to all sides ofthe debate properly before taking any action.
Limitation periods for whiplash claims and potential changes to the small claims limit will be included in a report on tackling insurance fraud due out next month, the government revealed today.