The government has introduced a new whiplash reform programme that makes it harder to claim compensation for whiplash injuries. The public are largely unaware of the changes which make it much harder to pursue a claim for whiplash and drastically reduces the amount of compensation. Here is a brief summary of what you need to know.
Whiplash is a common injury that can occur in car accidents. It is caused by the sudden back-and-forth movement of the head and neck, which can damage the ligaments and muscles in the neck. Symptoms of whiplash can include pain, stiffness, headaches, and dizziness.
In the past, it was relatively easy to make a claim for whiplash compensation. The government introduced a new whiplash reform programme in May 2021. The reforms include:
- A fixed tariff of compensation for whiplash injuries that last up to two years.
- A ban on settling whiplash claims without medical evidence.
- The introduction of an online claims service, known as the Official Injury Claim Service (OICS).
The fixed tariff of compensation means that claimants will now receive a set amount of money for their injuries, regardless of the severity of their injuries. This is intended to make the claims process fairer and more transparent but overall results in injured people receiving less compensation.
The ban on settling whiplash claims without medical evidence is designed to reduce the number of fraudulent claims, although the actual size of the problem in the first place is disputed. Claimants will now need to provide medical evidence to support their claims before they can be settled.
The OICS is an online portal that is supposed to allow claimants to make a whiplash claim without the need for legal representation and as a result the entitlement to legal costs has been removed. However, the portal is complicated and disadvantages ordinary members of the public against trained claims handlers and lawyers acting for the insurance companies. To date it seems very few people are successfully pursuing claims via the portal without the assistance of lawyers.
The Insurance companies were granted such a favourable system that will reduce claims in return for a promise that they would reduce insurance premiums. The whiplash reform programme is still relatively new, so it is too early to say how effective it will be in reducing premiums but history suggests this is unlikely.
What does this mean for you?
If you have been involved in a car accident and you have suffered whiplash, you should be aware of the new whiplash reform programme. The reforms may affect the amount of compensation you are entitled to, and they may also affect the way in which you make your claim. You may wish to pursue your claim yourself via OICS but should you wish to obtain help from a solicitor we are happy to provide initial advice free of charge. No win – No fee agreements are still available and we are happy to discuss with you methods of funding should you wish to instruct us to act upon your behalf.
Please feel free to Contact us to discuss your case.