Whiplash is one of the most commonly suffered injuries stemming from road traffic accidents and can cause a great amount of pain and discomfort for those affected.
Last year, the government proposed reforms regarding whiplash claims that could have a wide-reaching impact. But what are they, why are they being suggested and what could it mean for you?
What are the changes?
The Civil Liability Bill, proposed by former Justice Secretary David Gauke in March 2018, is an attempt to reduce the number of whiplash claims being made by motorists in the UK.
Changes were initially put forward in 2016 before being delayed by the general election and a further postponement, in July 2018, means any alterations are not expected to come into force until April 2020 at the earliest.
The plans include a bid to set a fixed rate for compensation claims regarding anyone affected by whiplash for up to two years as well as prohibiting any claims made without certifiable medical evidence. Additionally, the small claims limit for road accidents could be increased from £1,000 to £5,000.
Why are they being made?
In essence, the government are aiming to crack down on fraudulent or frivolous whiplash claims, which cost the insurance industry millions of pounds every year.
When putting forward his bill, MP Gauke said: “The number of whiplash claims has been too high for too long, and is symptomatic of a wider compensation culture.
“We are putting this right through this important legislation, ensuring whiplash claims are no longer an easy payday and that money can be put back in the pockets of millions of law- abiding motorists.”
MP Gauke stated that despite the number of reported accidents in the UK showing a downward trend, injury claims relating to such incidents were 50% higher than a decade previously.
How could they affect you?
It is claimed that the new reforms will save the average UK driver £35 a year in car insurance premiums, which is good news.
The increase in the small claims limit is not such good news for those making genuine claims for compensation, however, as they’ll have to pay for legal counsel or represent themselves, which may not be a particularly welcome proposition for many.
And for those who are making sincere claims, the requirement to produce medical evidence could be tricky, as the effects of whiplash can be difficult to prove without a qualified diagnosis.