As many of you may have read, the Civil Liability Act may be implemented in 2019. If it comes into force in its current form, the Act will increase the small claims limit in Road Traffic Accident claims from £1,000.00 to £5,000.00 for soft tissue injuries. This means that people who suffer soft tissue injuries and minor psychological conditions (not fractures, head injuries, PTSD or scarring injuries) as a result of a Road Traffic accident with a value of under £5,000.00 have to pursue their claims in the Small Claims Court.
Injured people will also no longer be able to recover any legal fees or the cost of obtaining medical reports from the opponent, meaning they will now have to pay a Solicitor to assist them with their case. If they win, their legal fees will be deducted in full from their compensation, whereas currently they will receive most of those from their opponent’s insurers.
In addition, the Civil Liability Bill includes a proposal to introduce a tariff-based compensation system both reducing the amount of compensation and fixing a sliding scale for injuries depending on how long they last. At the moment, lawyers value cases using the Judicial College Guidelines which set out recommended values for injuries as well as reported caselaw. If the figures are not agreed, a Judge will value the claim.
The JCG guidelines are set by senior Judges and are updated and reviewed annually. The new fixed tariff proposal will significantly reduce the amounts of compensation a person with soft tissue injuries will recover, reducing the amounts of compensation by over 50%. It may well be the case that the majority of damages obtained will be used to pay for legal fees and the cost of medical reports which will be necessary to progress their claims.
An example of how the new proposals will affect injured people:
I recently represented a gentleman who was driving to visit his wife in a nearby hospital when he was involved in a Road Traffic Accident when another driver pulled out of a side road and collided with the offside of his car causing significant damage together with injuries to his neck, back, shoulder and leg.
The emergency services were called and our client had to be cut free from his vehicle before being taken to Hospital where he stayed overnight. He was in a significant amount of pain for some time and was unable to visit his wife.
The other driver’s insurers initially denied liability on the basis that our client had failed to give way. After months of hard work and negotiating, the third party insurer admitted full liability for the collision. We arranged the necessary physiotherapy treatment to assist our client in recovering from his injuries as well as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to assist him with the psychological symptoms he was suffering with. Ultimately we obtained damages in the sum of £3,800.00 for him.
If our client’s accident had happened when the Civil Liability Act was in force, he would have had to pay for a legal representative to help with fight his case and pay for a medical report. Our client would also have recovered significantly less by way of damages. He might have thought it was not worthwhile pursuing the case against an insurer’s trained claims handlers and lawyers, saving the insurers thousands of pounds.
The Bill should not become law in our opinion. It is drawn as if an insurance company had prepared it, to deprive genuinely-injured people of the compensation they deserve after Road Traffic Accidents and will deny them the right to justice!
You can write to your local to your local MP on this issue, their details can be found here.
If you or anybody you know has been involved in an accident and require advice or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0114 218 4000 or email email@example.com