This week, the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced proposals to increase the upper limit of the small claims track from £1,000 to £5,000.
This is in response to, amongst other things raised, whiplash claims.
What does this mean?
Well, let us take it through a fictional story:
Say you have been injured in a road traffic accident that was not your fault and you have been injured.
If you suffer whiplash injury, there is a high chance that in today’s society you may be told that there is no such injury or if you make a claim you may be labelled as someone who is trying to profit from your whiplash injury.
You might also be thought of as one of those people trying to make a fraudulent claim or at least exaggerating your injuries.
But, being an innocent victim in a road traffic accident, you may choose to pursue a claim as you have been injured and suffered losses.
So what can you do?
Well, if the increase in the upper limit comes into force, you would find it difficult to get legal advice from a solicitor because if the value of your claim is less than £5000 (and the vast majority of whiplash claims are), it would be classed as a small claim.
This means that even if you were successful and won your case, the solicitor would not be able to recover their costs from the responsible party’s insurer.
The only option, therefore, if you wanted to instruct a solicitor would be to pay privately but this many mean that any compensation awarded to you may be reduced or in some cases, not covered by the compensation you are awarded.
Without a solicitor, you would be facing big insurers, their legal teams and the court system on your own.
So you will need to understand:
- The law of tort – i.e. liability, causation and quantum
- How to start the claim
- What to do if liability is denied
- How to get medical evidence
- What to do if they accept liability by deny causation, i.e. they say your injuries were not caused by the accident
- What your claim for injuries is worth – is the offer to settle your claim fair?
- What financial losses you can claim for
- And, if necessary, how and when to issue court proceedings and what steps are needed to get the case to Trial; and if you get to Trial, you would then have to represent yourself at court.
The government is expecting you and thousands of others to face this alone, and face the mighty of the massive insurance firms, who may wait for you to issue court proceedings before they will deal with you.
As personal injury solicitors, we ask the government are the new laws and proposals favouring people getting access to justice or have they bowed down to what the mighty insurance companies have asked for?
Whose interests have been protected?
Do you think this is unfair?
If you don’t, perhaps you might want to write to your local MP – you can find their details here http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/