Whiplash Reform

The 2021 whiplash reforms relate to personal injury claims for road traffic accidents (RTAs). Although,  before delving into what exactly are the whiplash reforms and how they might affect your claim, let us first define what counts as a whiplash injury under the new reform.

What is a whiplash injury?

A “whiplash injury” is defined by the Act as “an injury of soft tissue in the neck, back or shoulder that is… a sprain, strain, tear rupture or lesser damage of a muscle. However, tendon or ligament in the neck, back, or shoulder, or an injury of soft tissue associated with a muscle, tendon, or ligament in the neck, back, or shoulder. The definition does not include “an injury of soft tissue that is a part of or connected to another injury. Although, the other injury is not an injury of soft tissue in the neck, back, or shoulder.” For example, if you have a broken arm, some soft tissue damage is bound to happen in or around that area. However, it would not be considered to be a whiplash injury.

What are the whiplash reforms?

Moreover, the reforms are a collection of carefully chosen measures by the Government to redesign how “low-value personal injury claims” that emerge from road traffic accidents are administered. Hence, for the longest time, insurance companies have been lobbying for adjustments to the conventional way to process these claims. Therefore, the insurance companies have been convinced the reforms to the current process would minimise the volume of low-value claims they receive. Consecutively, it is expected that the savings made by insurers will help scale down the insurance premiums for motorists.

If you are unaware of how they might affect you or your client, here are a few things you should know:

Hence, if the following circumstances are met, then this new reform will influence your claim:

  • Age over 18
  • Injured in a road traffic accident
  • The accident occurred on or after the 31st of May 2021
  • Endured whiplash injuries
  • Where a driver or a passenger of a motor vehicle (not included are motorbikes and scooters)
  • Injuries are worth less than £5000. The total value of your claim is less than £10000.

Changes that will affect you:

  • Claims will have to be made through a new Official Injury Claim Portal
  • Whiplash injuries will be evaluated on the authority of a fixed tariff
  • Legal fees or costs will not be incorporated in your claim
  • Instructing solicitors or engaging any legal representation to assist you in bringing your claim cannot occur
  • Cannot make Propositions to settle a claim before a medical report has been obtained

whiplash-Reforms

Injury Claims Portal

The Official Injury Claims portal, an online system, has been established to authorise claimants to file their claims without legal representation. Hence, on the portal, you can schedule medical evidence, hand over details of your claim, and contact the motor insurers you are filling out the claim form. Although, there is a provision for minor psychological injuries intended to compensate for such injuries.

New 2021, Whiplash Reforms

Whiplash injuries are experienced in other accidents, such as non-road traffic accidents. Hence, do not come under the new 2021 whiplash reforms that only relate to road traffic accidents—additionally, personal injury claims of road traffic accidents made by pedestrians. However, if you were injured in a road accident, your claim would not be affected by a cyclist, a motorcyclist, or a scooter rider.

Therefore, the following tariffs will be used to value whiplash injuries, introduced under the new reforms, and are based on how long the injury lasted and if there are psychological symptoms accompanying the injury:

Duration of Injury Amount-Regulation 2(l)(a) Amount-Regulation 2(l)(a)
Not more than 3 months £240 £260
More than 3 months, but not more than 6 months £495 £520
More than 6 months, but not more than 9 months £840 £895
More than 9 months, but not more than 12 months £1,320 £1,390
More Than 12 months, but not more than 15 months £2,040 £2,125
More than 15 months, but not more than 18 months £3,005 £3,100
More than 18 months, but not more than 24 months £4,215 £4,345

Concerns

However, there are several concerns that claimants and solicitors have regarding these new reforms:

  • Although, there is ambiguity about mixed claims since there is no clarity on how claims will be evaluated when claimants have suffered a tariff and a non-tariff injury.
  • The details are hazy as to which conditions a judge would consider eligible for the tariff’s discretionary 20% uplift.
  • However, there is concern about security regarding data transfer from the current claims portal used by the solicitors and the new Online Injury Claims portal.
  • Whereas, the new tariffs may cause more personal injury cases to be processed as small claims, which would lead claimants not to seek a solicitor as they will be unlikely to recover their legal costs.
  • Solicitors may have to revise their business models to adapt to the new changes to stay relevant within the market.
  • Moreover, those solicitors representing claimants for claims under £10000 would need to register on the online portal. If you are a solicitor, you can follow the steps to register provided at Claimant representatives | Official Injury Claim