Whiplash Claims - UK

The House of Commons passed all stages of the Civil Liability Bill last week which provides for sweeping reforms of compensation claims in England and Wales.

The main provisions of the Bill which will become law shortly relate to sweeping reforms of whiplash claims and the setting of a new mechanism for calculating the discount rate from 2.5% to -0.75%.

The new legislation provides for a wider definition of "whiplash injury" and also provides for the setting of a tariff (specific amount of award) for whiplash claims which sum will be provided for and separate regulations to be signed by the relevant Minister. There will be a specific figure for pain, suffering and loss of amenity in respect of a whiplash injury or both a whiplash injury and minor psychological harm suffered at the same time. This figure will apply to whiplash injuries of up to two years duration or which would have been suffered for a period of less than two years had the Claimant endeavoured to mitigate his injury by for example accepting medical advice and engaging in physiotherapy, rehabilitation etc.

The legislation also provides that the tariff (specified amount) may be uplifted in very exceptional circumstances up to a maximum of 20%. The legislation also provides that it will not be lawful to make offers of settlement in respect of whiplash claims without a Medical Report. This would appear to be designed to prevent insurers or compensators making an economic decision to try to settle a claim early by making an offer without having had the benefit of sight of a Medical Report by a recognised Medical Practitioner to verify the legitimacy of the injury.

The legislation excludes claims arising from Motor Cycle accidents.

Of importance is that no party and party costs will be payable for settlements or awards of £5,000 or less. As it is expected that the tariff for whiplash injuries will be set at £2/£3 ,000, this means that the vast majority of whiplash claims will be taken out of the legal system altogether.

The Act also defines "whiplash injury". It defines a whiplash injury as a neck injury resulting from forceful, rapid, back and forth movement of the neck including a sprain, strain, tear, rupture or lesser damage of a muscle, tendon or ligament in the neck, back or shoulder, or any injury or soft tissue associated with a muscle, tendon or ligament in the neck, back or shoulder. This legislation also provides that this definition may be expanded without further need for legislation to include for example a tear to the rotator cuff requiring surgery.

This legislation will mean that the vast majority of whiplash injuries sustained in road traffic accidents will be disposed of for an amount in the region of £2/£3 ,000 without any party and party costs payable.

If you require any further detail or advice, please contact John Reid in O’Rourke Reid
Dial: +353 1 240 1200
Email: jreid@orourkereid.com

This document is for information purposes only and does not purport to represent legal advice.  
© O’Rourke Reid 2018