Claim Now or Risk Losing the Ability to Instruct a Solicitor!
Important legal update
If you have been unfortunate enough to have suffered injury in a Road Traffic Collision and wish to make a claim for your injuries, current legislation states you can recover your legal costs from the Insurer for the person that negligently caused your injuries, provided your injuries are worth more than £1,000.00.
BEWARE, this is set to change. Speaking on 25 October 2017, the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor, David Lidington MP, confirmed that road traffic injury claims worth up to £5,000 are, apparently, cases where people should not need a lawyer. Mr Lidington also proposes that other types of compensation claims will need to be worth over £2,000 for an injured person to be able to recover legal costs from their opponent.
What do these changes mean for you if you have been injured?
These proposed changes mean that, if you have a legal claim for injuries suffered in an accident at work worth £2,000.01 in compensation, then you will be able to get the benefit of your solicitor’s advice paid for by the losing side if you win.
However, if you are more seriously injured in a road traffic collision and have an injury claim worth over two times that, of say £4,999.99, then you will be denied the ability to recover any of your solicitors’ costs from the driver of the vehicle that negligently injured you. This means that your legal fees will be your responsibility to pay.
Mr Lidington says that an injury caused in a road traffic accident worth less than £5,000 is a small claims case. This means lawyers’ fees will not be recoverable and must be paid privately by the injured person from their compensation. Of course, the insurer for the person who injured you hopes you will not use a lawyer as they can then undercompensate you or simply refuse to pay compensation knowing you will not be able to take legal advice.
It is incredibly unfair to deny anyone injured in a road traffic accident fair access to justice.
At the moment, the general rule is that all injury claims – worth over £1,000, will entitle you to recover your legal costs if you win.
What do others say?
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has conducted research to investigate the added value which instructing a lawyer brings to the success of a personal injury claim. Its research clearly shows that for road traffic claims involving whiplash, instructing a lawyer ensures that the claimant receives, on average, 200% more than if the injured person had accepted the first offer made to him by an insurance company while unrepresented by a lawyer.
Mr Lidington has said, among other things, that the higher limit for road traffic accident cases is needed because the cost of these claims has led to an increase in motor insurance premiums. A cynic might seriously question whether insurance premiums are indeed going to fall for motorists once these proposed changes are brought into force. It seems highly unlikely that suddenly a windfall in lower insurance premiums will happen. In any event, is that a justifiable reason to deny an injured person access to justice?
Accident victims are sadly also victims of bad press
For personal injury lawyers, it is disappointing that newspapers choose to focus on the tiny minority of fraudulent claimants rather than the victims of accidents that should or could have been avoided. According to APIL “Even reliance upon the highly questionable Association of British Insurers (ABI) estimate that 7% of whiplash claims are fraudulent or exaggerated, this means that 93 per cent of claims are genuine.”
Contrary to what the media may lead people to assume, the Government’s Compensation Recovery Unit statistics indicate that the number of compensation claims for whiplash injuries is in fact falling.
Mr Lidington can bring in these changes at any time.
If you have been injured in a road traffic accident, do not delay in seeking legal advice to bring a claim as soon as possible, or you risk losing your ability to do so once these proposals are put into force.
If you have been injured in an accident and would like information on how our specialist injury lawyers; Darren White, Penelope Heighton and Rebekah Baty can help, please contact us on 01392 285000 for free legal advice.