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Road traffic accident claims

Whiplash Claim Reforms

On 31st May 2021, the government introduced the long-awaited Civil Liability Act 2018 and the whiplash reforms, changing the way in which people can claim compensation for minor whiplash injuries. Our legal experts explain what you need to know.

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What are the whiplash reforms and the Civil Liability Act 2018?

The Civil Liability Act 2018 is a piece of legislation which makes provision about whiplash claims and the personal injury discount rate. Part 1 of this act relates to whiplash and forms the Whiplash Injury Regulations (otherwise known as the whiplash reforms).

The introduction of the Act and its reforms was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was finally implemented on 31st May 2021, at which point any small claims brought for whiplash resulting from a road traffic accident fell under a new process.

Why did the government introduce the whiplash reforms?

The number of road traffic accident cases reported in 2016/17 was approximately 50% higher than in 2006/2007, and whiplash related claims accounted for approximately 85% of those claims. It was reported by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) that there were more than 1,500 whiplash claims made in the UK every day, which costed the insurance industry a significant amount which was estimated at more than £2 billion per year.

The reforms are designed to save the insurance industry a significant amount of money which they must then pass on to their customers. This means the move is a positive one, as the Government expects that you'll save approximately £35 on your motor insurance premiums.

How do the whiplash reforms differ from the way small whiplash claims were previously processed?

The main difference is the claim value at which you can expect legal costs to be covered by the liable party. Previously, if you were involved in a road traffic accident and suffered a whiplash injury worth over £1,000, the insurers of the vehicle at fault would pay your appropriate legal costs so you could be represented by a legal expert who would seek compensation on your behalf.

Today, under the Civil Liability Act and the whiplash reforms, that limit sits at £5,000. As most claims for whiplash are valued at under £5,000, most whiplash claimants no longer have their legal representation paid for by the other side's insurers.

Another difference is the amount of compensation you'll receive for a whiplash injury. This has been reduced and new tariffs have been set.

How do I make a claim for whiplash under the new whiplash reforms?

The new reforms have introduced a self-service online 'portal' system called Official Injury Claim for whiplash claims that fall under £5,000 in value. This platform allows you to register your own claim directly with the insurers without the need for legal representation.

Under the new regulations, it's important to note that if you want legal representation, you’ll need to pay your own legal fees, whether your case is successful or not, which could leave you out of pocket. In addition, if the insurers of the vehicle at fault disputes anything in your claim, such as if the other driver doesn't believe they were at fault, you may have to represent yourself in court.

How much can I claim for whiplash under the new whiplash reforms?

The whiplash reforms offer fixed amounts of compensation for those who've suffered whiplash because of a road traffic accident where someone else was at fault.

The amount of compensation for your pain and suffering will depend upon the length of time your symptoms lasted. Therefore, the new tariffs of compensation you can receive for whiplash injuries following 31 May 2021 are:

  • Symptoms lasting up to 3 months: £240
  • Symptoms lasting 3-6 months: £495
  • Symptoms lasting 6-9 months: £840
  • Symptoms lasting 9-12 months: £1,320
  • Symptoms lasting 12-15 months: £2,040
  • Symptoms lasting 15-18 months: £3,005
  • Symptoms lasting 18-24 months: £4,215

These amounts have a slight uplift if you've also suffered minor psychological injuries in addition to the whiplash injuries. These tariffs are:

  • Symptoms lasting up to 3 months: £260
  • Symptoms lasting 3-6 months: £520
  • Symptoms lasting 6-9 months: £895
  • Symptoms lasting 9-12 months: £1,390
  • Symptoms lasting 12-15 months: £2,125
  • Symptoms lasting 15-18 months: £3,100
  • Symptoms lasting 18-24 months: £4,345

If your symptoms last longer than 24 months, your claim would be valued at over £5,000. This means that the claim would then be processed under the normal rules; that is, the reforms will not impact your claim and you can pursue action through a legal representative at no cost to you.

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Frequently asked questions

Is anyone exempt from the whiplash reforms?

Yes. The Civil Liability Act and the whiplash reforms are only to be implemented in England and Wales. So, if your accident took place in Scotland or Northern Ireland, they would not affect your claim for compensation. Additionally, the Government have confirmed that 'vulnerable road users', such as cyclists and pedestrians, are also exempt from these reforms.

Do the whiplash reforms allow you to claim any out-of-pocket expenses?

Yes. The tariffs implemented under the whiplash reforms relate to the amount of compensation you're entitled to for your pain and suffering. This doesn't include any out-of-pocket expenses you have such as if you've not been able to work because of your pain and suffering and have a loss of wages as a result.

Where the overall claim, for both pain and suffering and any out-of-pocket expenses, totals more than £10,000, the case will be dealt with under the current rules and will not be affected by the whiplash reforms.

How do I represent myself as a litigant in person under the whiplash reforms?

The new reforms mean that most people will have to represent themselves in their whiplash claims. This is also known as acting as a ‘Litigant in Person’. Doing so can pose challenges, such as understanding the process of negotiations and ensuring you get the full amount you deserve.

We’ve put together some helpful information for anyone pursuing a whiplash claim as a litigant in person, which you can find here.

What should I do if I think my claim is worth more than £5,000?

If you think your claim is worth more than £5,000, it could be that you will be able to pursue legal action through a legal representative, who can help support you throughout the claims process. Most claims valued over £5,000 can be pursued under a No Win No Fee agreement. This means that, if you are unsuccessful in your claim, there will be no cost to you, so doing so is financially risk-free.

To speak to a specialist road traffic solicitor about your claim, get in touch by calling 0330 041 5869 or contact us online.

What is the time limit for making a claim under the whiplash reforms?

The time limit for making a whiplash claim is three years from the date of the accident, or the date you became aware of your injuries. You can start a small claim via the Official Injury Claim portal or, if you think your injuries are more severe, you should reach out to a specialist road traffic accident solicitor, who will be able to discuss your case in more detail.

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