What new whiplash regulations could mean for your claim

One inevitability in life always seems to ring true: change. Laws change and 2021 was the turn of whiplash regulations to be updated. With hundreds of thousands of whiplash claims made every year in the UK, it’s important for us to know how these changes to the law will affect our own claims.

That number is no exaggeration either as approximately 1,500 whiplash claims are made every single day in the UK. This costs our insurers over £2 billion per year – and that may be about to increase. That’s because the new rules are changing how much money can be claimed from a whiplash injury. However, there’s also a little bit of controversy too.

While the Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021 were introduced on 31st May 2021 to make the whole claimant system run more smoothly, there are still concerns that the system is going to cause problems for law firms and claimants alike. In this post, we’re going to give you the up-to-date details you need to know about making a whiplash claim.

Whiplash: The basics

how whiplash affects the bodyWhen your body (generally your neck) has been ‘whipped’ from its natural position during a sudden accident or event – predominantly when a car has rear-ended the vehicle you are travelling in – this is referred to as whiplash. It can also occur during a sporting event, if you were attacked on the street, if you fell down stairs or during any number of accidents and events.

While most people recover from whiplash within a few weeks, sufferers have to endure the likes of dizziness, tinnitus, headaches and many more ailments. However, a number of people may also find that their symptoms last for far longer. Sometimes it can take months or even years for someone to recover and may even leave them with some sort of chronic pain or lifestyle changes. The risk of greater injury comes from the severity of the impact, if you are older and/or if you already had neck or back problems (including whiplash).

Whiplash compensation explained

Compensation claims are there to help compensate you not only for your injury, but the time you had to take off work and any general discomfort that came from the injuries. It can also be claimed to help with any medical costs too. You’ll want to make your claim as soon as possible but don’t worry if it has taken you some time – you have three years to submit your claim. You can also submit a claim on behalf of any children who were passengers and also experienced symptoms. Adult passengers will have to make their own claim.

Payouts are made by insurance companies so you don’t necessarily to worry about causing a scene – it’s your right to make a claim. In order for your claim to have a better chance of success, you’ll want to gather as much evidence as possible. It’s always good to take photos or record the names of any witnesses who saw the incident. This may help you later.

The reason that whiplash compensation claims often have a bad rep – and have been the subject of countless comedy sketches throughout the years – is because there have been many less than reputable companies that offer to represent people when making a claim. These businesses – known as claims management companies (CMCs) – often have a bad reputation. Thankfully, regulation changes made in 2018 has helped stymie their growth. However, it’s still very important to research who is representing you.

When it comes to the amount of compensation you are due, the size of the award has always centred around the effect of the accident on the claimant. Historically, this was generally over £1,000 but under £5,000 – with five and even some six-figure exceptions. It isn’t uncommon for insurers to try and offer an out-of-court settlement. You can choose to accept and save yourself time and energy, or you can go to court with the chance of winning a higher claim.

One of the major problems when it comes to compensation claims can be if the person causing the whiplash didn’t have any insurance. In the case of car accidents, you may be able to get compensation from the MIB instead. That’s the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, by the way, and not the Men in Black!

The Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021: What you should expect

The overhaul of the whiplash system has been quite significant. It’s not just the level of payouts that have been affected as the entire way in which you make a claim has been changed too, as well as the way these cases are handled by the courts. It really opens up whiplash claims and even allows some of those who only suffered minor injuries to make their own claim without any legal representation (and the fees that come with that).

The general limit in the small claims court for road traffic accidents (RTAs) has increased to £5,000 – a 500% increase on the previous limit. Also, this specifically means a lawyer cannot be instructed to make a claim for less than £5,000 in RTA cases. Instead, claimants should use the new personal injury claim portal. The scale of the tariff has also been increased so that it now spans from £240 for an injury lasting less than three months, to a maximum of £4,215 for injuries that last for two years.

Additionally, claimants may see this tariff increased by up to 20% if their case meets a threshold of it being proven that there was a high degree of suffering for the claimant. It’s thought that these reforms will save motorists about £35-per-year on insurance premiums – thanks to over a billion pounds in savings that are being made due to changes towards the system. It’s important to note that these new limits apply to vehicle accidents, but not incidents involving children, pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists.

As we previously noted, the system allows for people to proceed with a case without legal support thanks to the new online portal that allows claimants to submit their own details. This can lead to savings in time, energy and can even save your the need for court appearances. However, in cases that are more complex, it is absolutely advisable that you get in touch with experienced whiplash solicitors.

Lastly, the intended effect of these changes should mean that nuisance claims management companies (CMC) will likely find it hard to attract business. With more people now able to make their own claims without representation, CMCs will no longer be able to claim fees on these cases. The tariff is not payable by the defendant either so this means that CMCs cannot claim any fees from this money.

So what’s the catch?

While the new system sounds like it is good for claimants and their bank balances, there are some other concerns that have had lawyers worried for both the process and claimants. Firstly, there is some worry about payouts. It’s thought that some may actually end up with less than they expected.

This is because some claims that could have previously been up to £7,000 under the old guidelines would be less than £5,000 under the new guidelines. However, as the system can allow for someone to avoid legal representation completely, this means money saved on legal fees as well as saved time.

The online claim submission system itself is also currently under scrutiny. With 1,500 claims a day, it’s a large load for a system to take which could create delays for claimants who desperately need the money from a claim.

Additionally, there is worry that the system is too complex for some people and that the documentation to support it is not good enough. There is a worry that this will cause some to continue giving CMCs business. However, there is an official helpline in place to talk you through any problems that you may have with the interface.

Foys’ road traffic accident specialists can help you

While many will be able to use the new whiplash claim system, some will find the claims process too awkward or may have a more serious case that necessitates the involvement of an experienced road traffic accident solicitor. If that’s the case, then simply get in touch with our specialised personal injury solicitors today.

Foys has 45 years of experience in helping many victims achieve the maximum compensation payout possible from personal injury claims. We are thorough, professional and supportive of our clients, and our goal is to win you the biggest claim possible.

To talk to our team today and get your FREE initial consultation, call us on 01302 327136 or get in touch via our online form.