New “Whiplash” Portal Gets Nearer, But Further Away At The Same Time
Posted on 21st April 2020
The Law Society recently published an article giving the view from both a Defendant and Claimant representative as to how they believe the new whiplash reforms, put back to 01st August 2020, are coming along. MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor Garstang, as ever have a close eye on the progress of the new system.
What are the “whiplash reforms” and what is a “portal”?
In short, the reforms are part of the Civil Liability Act 2018, which are intended to change the way soft tissue injury claims following Road Traffic Accidents are pursued. Basically, if you have a Road Traffic Accident and you sustain only soft tissue “whiplash” injuries, you will no longer be able to recover legal fees and your damages will be capped.
The “portal” refers to an online system which allows individuals to submit the claim directly to the insurance company of the fault vehicle.
So, what do the Defendant side make of the progress?
Unsurprisingly, the Defendant side (who stand to gain massively by this new system) are very positive about the progress, reporting “high satisfaction levels” from trialists and staying upbeat about how access to the Court system for disputed claims can be made easy for everyone.
Apparently, further processes to make the Court process for these disputed claims simpler are “in the pipeline” and a Code of Conduct to make sure insurers do not bully individuals is being put together. Quite what they are remain to be seen, however, given these are being put together with significant ‘input’ from the Association of British Insurers, it remains to be seen how favourable or balanced they are.
The Defendant side seem keen to press ahead with the implementation date of 01st August, having already missed out on four months of profits from bullying individual Claimants under the new system with the original date being put back, they are keen not to have to pay out more money if the date for the new system is put back again.
What do Claimant representatives make of the progress?
A senior Solicitor of a large personal injury firm, writing on behalf of the Claimant-side legal representatives disagrees with the above view. The fact that the system is not ready and that the date set for 01st August was prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, makes it unlikely that all necessary work will be completed and have the system ready for then.
This new system, being intended to pit you, the individual with no legal expertise whatsoever, against a multi-national insurance company with massive resources, was meant to have the interest of the Claimant at its centre.
Currently, there appears to be no firm guidance on how matters will be dealt with and it appears that potentially, if liability is disputed, the intention is for the Claimant to go to Court to have a Trial on liability and if the Court finds in their favour, to leave the Court, attempt to agree damages and if this is not agreed, to start a fresh claim in the Court to decide your damages.
When you issue a Small Claims Track claim that is not for personal injury, you automatically have access to the Mediation Service, who successfully help many parties resolve their dispute long before the case reaches a Trial. The new Personal Injury system will not have this and so, if the insurer refuses to settle straight away, you are likely going all the way to Trial, unrepresented. MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor Garstang, think this is entirely unfair and will create a massive imbalance in the legal system.
So, when will it come in and will it work?
The fact of the matter is the system is coming in and it is likely to be some time in 2020. Whether it happens in August or, perhaps October remains to be seen and as with many other reforms in the legal world, many problems are only fixed or issues clarified after the system has been in use for a number of months or years.
Will it work? For the insurance industry, definitely, this is their system, put together at their request and after years of bemoaning having to make payouts for expensive claims. So far, insurance policies have not really fallen in price, despite drastic cuts to Solicitors costs in 2010 and again in 2013. So, will the profits be passed on to policyholders this time? Only time will tell.
One aim for the system was to reduce fraud, however, all Solicitors including MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor Garstang have an overriding duty to the Court not to assist anyone with any claim that appears not to have merit. We do fail to see how removing a safety net and allowing parties to bring claims directly, will reduce these dishonest individuals. Dishonest Claimants are one of the main reasons for this new system, the few spoiling the rights of the many.
Is anyone excluded from this new system?
Yes, this new system is basically only for car drivers. If you have an accident whilst riding a motorcycle, bicycle or a horse, or if you are a pedestrian hit by a car, then your method of claiming remains the same.
What to do if I have a Road Traffic Accident?
Whatever type of incident you were involved in, MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor Garstang, will still be here for you are we will still find a way to act for you on a Conditional Fee Agreement or a Contingency Fee Agreement (both types of “no win, no fee” agreement).
Despite all of the promise of this new system, you will still be going up against the insurance companies, who are armed to the teeth and who will still have the same array of claims handlers who are used to the daily battle against Solicitors. We cannot see any insurance company making it easy for you to claim or rushing to settle any claim you do make.
Contact MG Legal, your Personal Injury Solicitor Garstang and ask to speak to our specialist Personal Injury team. We will quickly assess your claim and look to get the ball rolling the same day to ensure that you are not alone against the insurance companies who want to deny you the right to your compensation.
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