Opinions and insights from our Personal Injury team
What are the Whiplash Reforms, and do they apply to you?
- AuthorCristina Parla
The reforms were part of an insurance backed crackdown on whiplash and soft tissue personal injury claims, arising out of road traffic accidents. Those affected by the reforms, which were introduced in England and Wales on 31 May 2021, are only entitled to fixed tariff compensation for whiplash, soft tissue damage, and minor psychological injuries, that last no more than two years.
As part of the reforms, a ban has been imposed on pre-medical offers. A pre-medical offer is an offer that has been made before medical evidence has been obtained. As insurers are now banned from taking this approach, medical evidence must be obtained before compensation can be awarded to an injured party.
In my experience of dealing with personal injury claims, pre-medical offers tended to be more favourable with insurers than claimants, so this is a welcome change.
How will the Whiplash Reforms affect me?
Unfortunately, a negative impact of the reforms relates to the ability to recover legal costs from the Defendant if the claim is successful. This is due to the rise in the small claims limit, from £1,000 to £5,000.
Before the implementation of the reforms, a claimant would have previously been entitled to recovery of their legal costs if the compensation award was greater than £1,000. However, due to the increase in the small claims limit, many whiplash claims will fall below the £5,000 threshold which means that recovery of any legal costs is not possible.
How can I pursue a whiplash claim arising out of a road traffic accident?
If you are affected by the reforms and satisfy the criteria, you must pursue your personal injury claim directly through the Official Injury Claim website. There are guidance notes on how to do this, but it is important to be aware that personal injury claims have a statutory limitation period of 3 years from the date of the accident in which to bring the claim. Please, therefore, pursue your claim as soon as practically possible, and before the limitation expires.
The Whiplash Reforms criteria:
- Road traffic accident on or after 31 May 2021
- The accident happened in England or Wales
- Award for personal injury less than £5,000
- Total compensation award (injury, loss and damage) less than £10,000
- Someone else was responsible for the accident in full or in part
- Vehicle details of the person at fault are known
- You were inside a motor vehicle when the accident happened
- The person at fault for the accident has a UK registration plate
- Aged 18 or over when making the claim, not when the accident happened
If you meet the above criteria, you may submit your personal injury claim for free via Official Injury Claim https://www.officialinjuryclaim.org.uk/. The service is designed to be user friendly, and there is an information pack available (here) that provides detailed help.
Claims Portal and Personal Injury Protocol criteria
If your personal injury claim arises out of a road traffic accident and meets any of the criteria set out below, then please use our Start Your Claim enquiry form to see how we might be able to help you pursue your personal injury claim.
Seek legal advice if any of the following apply:
- Accident happened before 31 May 2021
- Under 18 years of age when making a claim
- Not a road traffic accident
- Motorcyclist, pillion or sidecar passenger, cyclist, pedestrian, horse rider or mobility scooter rider
- The injury is not solely whiplash or soft tissue (for example, a fracture, scarring, or other significant injury