Small claims limit leaves claimants without legal assistance
Changes to the small claims limit for personal injury claims will leave claimants without legal assistance
Under new rules, to come into force on 31 May 2021, the small claims track limit in respect of road traffic accidents, will increase from the current limit of £1,000.00 to £5,000.00 (with the below exceptions).
This means that an individual's legal fees will not be paid by the Defendant (or their insurers) in road traffic accident claims where compensation for the injuries does not exceed £5,000.00. This limit does not include any financial losses such as loss of earnings and medical expenses.
These new rules apply to any road traffic accident that occurs after 31 May 2021, but with the following exceptions:
- The claimant is a protected party/child
- Motor cyclists, cyclists, pedestrians, horse riders and mobility scooters
- If the claimant is an undischarged bankrupt, or the claimant or defendant are acting as a personal representative of a deceased
- Where the vehicle is registered outside of the UK
This means that in all other cases an individual will be left to "go it alone" because if they want the valuable assistance of a lawyer even on a no-win no fee agreement, they will need to pay that lawyer themselves from their compensation, as costs will not be paid by the Defendant even if the claim is successful. Costs in these cases can amount to thousands if the claim is contested.
Therefore, making a personal injury claim for whiplash injuries is likely to become much more difficult.
Further, there is also going to be a tariff introduced to set levels of damages for soft tissue injuries suffered in road traffic accidents. It is limited to £240.00 for injuries not lasting more than 3 months, and the levels increase for every extra 3 months that injuries continue, reaching £4,215.00 where injuries continue for up to 24 months.
So, not only are individuals going to have to pursue these claims alone, there is also now a very regimented tariff in place setting out the damages they will receive.
Insurance companies maintain that fraudulent whiplash claims are still a big problem, which is why these reforms are being implemented. However, it is feared that individuals will not have access to the advice that is essential during what can be a stressful and daunting time, and solicitors will not be taking on these types of claims because it will not be commercially attractive or viable for the client.
If you wish to discuss a personal injury claim, please do not hesitate to contact our expert, Kristy Ainge who will be more than happy to discuss this over the telephone with you.
Kristy Ainge - Associate Solicitor Advocate