Insurance companies must be rubbing their hands with glee in the light of proposed changes to whiplash-type car accident injury claims. Government proposals, if implemented, will see the small claims limit for these types of claim increased from £1000 to £5000, essentially removing the assistance personal injury solicitors can provide to car accident injury claimants in certain cases. Damages can still be sought by such claimants, but without a solicitor leading an action damages eventually achieved will invariably be lower.
‘A reduction in car-insurance premiums will be enjoyed by drivers’ seems to be the often-spouted message from insurance companies in an attempt to make justification for the proposals. But, as with so many things in life, if we receive with one hand we unfailingly lose with the other – and, according to personal injury solicitors countrywide, this is precisely what will happen to lower value claimants. The changes, if given the go-ahead (and there appears to be little sign of a rethink on the policy), will simply mean that claimants will not be able to instruct a solicitor for car accident injury claims with a damages value of less than £5000 and recover the cost of doing so from the party at fault.
Let’s be clear – this is a monumental infraction on claimants’ access to justice. In whatever way the government or insurance companies attempt to add spin and justify the change, there is no getting away from this fact. Surely it cannot be right that a claimant who, for example, suffers a ‘low-value’ whiplash type injury in a car accident has fewer options and a reduced access to justice than, say, a claimant who has a claim of equal value for an injury at work.
Injured claimants countrywide will no doubt be wondering how or why the government is even considering such audacious changes to their existing rights and capabilities for road traffic accident claims. These claimants would no doubt reasonably wonder about the level and type of influence the insurance giants may have exerted upon our government. It is, after all, the insurance companies who will benefit from the proposals, simply because they will not be paying out the correct and appropriate levels of damages that we, at Farleys, work so hard to achieve for our clients. Indeed, it is the injured claimant who will no doubt be left wondering how their rights and access to due justice could so easily have been sold down the river.