At the end of May 2021, a change was introduced to the way that compensation is awarded to victims of road traffic accidents, commonly referred to as ‘whiplash reforms’. Consequently, minor (or, relatively minor) injuries like whiplash have become less likely to be considered to receive a payout. This change was actually delayed, having been due to come in during April of the previous year.
So, What’s Changed?
The most concerning change for victims of road traffic accidents concerns the definition of ‘whiplash’. Whiplash is an umbrella term covering any soft tissue in the neck, back, and shoulders. This could be a sprain, tear, or rupture of any tendon, muscle, or ligament.
Under new rules, however, when the whiplash is connected to another injury, they can’t be claimed separately.
There’s also been a significant change to the Small Claims limit, from £1,000 to £5,000. This means that you’ll be unable to get the defendant’s lawyer to pay for your legal costs if you fall beneath this threshold. This effectively makes it more difficult to make a personal injury claim.
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Fixed Tariffs of Whiplash Reforms
There’s also been a system of fixed tariffs introduced for victims of soft tissue injury. You’ll be awarded compensation depending on how long you’re affected. If symptoms persist for three months, for example, then you’ll get compensation of around £260. If they go on for more than a year, then you’re looking at a couple of thousand pounds. Crucially, however, these amounts are set are far less than what is currently awarded to claimants in this situation.
Who’s Affected by Whiplash Reforms?
We should note that not all road users will be affected by the change. It’s only for those driving motor vehicles, and those traveling as passengers. If you’re riding a motorcycle, a bicycle, a horse, or if you’re just walking and happen to be involved in a collision, then the same rules apply as did before the change came in.
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It’s also worth saying that none of this applies to claims made on road traffic accidents that occurred before the change was made. So, if you were involved in a crash before 31st May 2021, then you’ll be unaffected.
What Does This Mean?
The upshot of this is that many of the accident victims who might otherwise have made a claim may be dissuaded from doing so. The complexities of the new rules, and the potential cost of legal representation, may all be decisive factors.