The law and procedure of personal injury and in particular claims for â€˜whiplashâ€™ injuries caused in road traffic accidents will undergo a seismic change from the 31st May 2021. For accidents which occur after this date the vast majority of these claims will be dealt with by the injured person via the new small claims portal.
The Government have introduced a number of changes which will come into force from the 31st May 2021 which will alter the way personal injury claims are dealt with in a large number of cases. The major changes are as follows:
- The introduction of a new portal system for victims of road traffic accidents to process their claim. The new portal can be found here
- The introduction of a tariff based system, whereby the award that a claimant receives is determined by the length of the period of recovery of the accident related injuries (see table set out below).
- Increasing the small claims limit for such claims to Â£5,000 for personal injury, meaning any injuries worth less than this amount will not be costs bearing. This means that a large number of solicitors will no longer offer assistance in this area of law.
The detail for the procedure to follow for claimants can be found in â€œthe RTA Small Claims Protocolâ€.
Who does this apply to?
The new system for â€˜whiplashâ€™ claims will apply to non-protected adults who suffer whiplash injuries whilst in a vehicle from the 31st May 2021.
The new system will not apply in the following situations:
- Your injury claim is over Â£5,000, or together with other protocol damages your claim is over Â£10,000.
- Your injuries do not fall within the definition of â€˜whiplashâ€™ (see below).
- You are a protected party. A protected party is one defined by the Pre-Action Protocol (see 4.3(g)) as a â€œparty, or an intended party, who lacks capacity to conduct proceedingsâ€ (such as a child).
- You have a personal injury and you were not inside a vehicle, for instance on a motorbike or bicycle.
- You were a vulnerable road user at the time of the accident, for example a motorcyclist, pillion passenger, passenger in a sidecar attached to a motorcycle, wheelchair or powered wheelchair user, on a mobility scooter, on a bicycle or other pedal cycle, riding a horse or a pedestrian.
- Your claim is in respect of a breach of duty owed to a road user by a person who is not a road user.
- Your claim is against an untraced driver as defined by the Untraced Driversâ€™ Agreement 2017 or any subsequent or supplementary Untraced Driversâ€™ Agreements.
Set out below is the tariff system which will come into force from the 31st May 2021.
The first column represents the award for a physical injury alone and the second column represents the award for a physical injury accompanied by a minor psychological injury.
Definition of â€˜whiplashâ€™
Only if a claimants injury falls within the definition of â€˜whiplashâ€™ will the new system be of relevance. If you suffer injuries outside of this definition then the old regime will apply and I would invite you to contact us for advice and assistance.
The Civil Liability Act 2018 defines whiplash as follows:
- a sprain, strain, tear, rupture or lesser damage of a muscle, 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.
If you have been involved in a road traffic accident and feel that you fall outside the scope of the new regime then please contact one of our personal injury experts, Michael Ward or Matthew Barlow by email or call us on 0151 639 8273.