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Bartletts Solicitors Campaign Against Government Plans To Remove Access To Compensation

Bartletts Solicitors is campaigning against the Government’s proposals to make it harder for individuals to claim compensation for personal injuries.

We have joined forces with other solicitors and the Law Society to stop the Government’s plans to increase the small claims limit for personal injury claims, making it harder for victims to access justice in the process.

The Government wants to raise the small claims limit for personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000 or possibly even as much as £10,000, and to stop or drastically cut compensation payments for minor injuries caused by road traffic accidents, such as whiplash.

The Government’s Plans

On 17 November, the Ministry of Justice published a paper entitled Reforming The Soft Tissue Injury (“whiplash”) Claims Process.

This paper outlines a number of proposals including the suggestion that whiplash claims could be banned or a limit placed on pay-outs of £425, compared to the current compensation average amount of £1,850.

Presented as being about motor insurance premiums, with insurance companies promising to pass on savings of around £40 to motorists if this law change is enforced, these proposals will impact on compensation claims for those injured at work and not only those who are the victims of road traffic accidents.

Proposals By The Government

The Government intends to:

  • Increase the small claims limit for personal injury claims to £5,000, from its current level of £1,000
  • Stop or cut the compensation payments for whiplash and similar minor soft tissue injuries, following road traffic accidents, capping it at £425
  • Introduce a tariff system for compensation, for injuries more serious than whiplash
  • Insist on medical reports from an accredited expert being seen before any compensation can be paid

Why We’re Campaigning Against These Proposals

If the law is changed and the small claims limit is increased for personal injury claims, or whiplash claims are stopped or significantly reduced, then it is the victims of road traffic or workplace accidents who will suffer despite being injured due to another party’s negligence.

If approved, the new law will be widespread and not just apply to road traffic accidents but to workplace accidents and accidents in public places as well.

Small claims courts are designed to deal with low-value cases like faulty goods and shouldn’t be expected to handle personal injury claims up to a value of £5,000. This means injuries such as a broken arm will be treated in the same manner as a claim for a faulty domestic appliance – and this is not a fair system. It will create a ‘David – v – Goliath’ situation where an individual will be expected to fight against an insurance company without the benefit of legal representation.  In our opinion this will mean that injured individuals will face an uphill struggle to obtain compensation.

This proposed limit increase will leave victims without solicitor representation, and in many cases without the opportunity to make a claim against the individual or insurance company for the compensation they’re entitled to. Individuals will be faced with the choices to represent themselves or to pay for legal representation from any damages awarded, or to not proceed at all.

If these plans go ahead, it will impact on those who suffer an injury, either in a road accident or at work.

Accessing legal advice with regard to making a claim for compensation for a personal injury caused by someone else’s negligence is an option everyone should have – and this is why we are campaigning against the Government’s proposals. Consider this – how fair is it that it will be possible to make a claim for a delayed flight but not for soft tissue injuries following an RTA if the Government is able to press ahead with these reforms.

The deadline for campaigning was 6 January and we continued to campaign right up until this date and will continue to do so to persuade the Government to change its plans.