British motorists could be left paying thousands of pounds in legal fees under new Whiplash reforms.

From 31st May, 2021, the ‘Civil Liability Act’ will increase the Small Claims Track (SCT) limit for Road Traffic Accident-related Personal Injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000. This will see many smaller claims now resigned to a slower court process via amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules.

Pain in the neck

Under the new ‘Whiplash Reform Programme’, compensation cases for whiplash and other soft tissue injuries will be significantly reduced. Claims below £5,000 will no longer be subject to fast-track rules.

Financially, both motorists and solicitors could be left in a difficult spot. Many claimants will now be expected to pay for legal representation.

Te reforms by the UK Government aim to reduce the estimated £2bn cost-strain faced by the insurance industry. Whiplash claims dramatically increased between 2006/07 and 2016/17. Much of this was due to ‘no win, no fee’ campaigns by legal firms.

Ignorance no defence

Colin Shaw, CEO of accident management company Call Brian, believes most motorists are unaware of the changes.

“The changes were delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and they now appear to have been stealthily implemented”.  It means that many solicitors “may reject certain claims” he says. With the potential to “recover a small amount of compensation for months of work with no certainty of winning” means many will not want to get involved.

Claimants unfortunate enough to be in a road traffic accident do have the ability to settle small personal injury claims without the need for legal representation. Under the new rules, motorists can log their claims through the Government’s Official Injury Claim portal.

However, Colin believes many motorists are unaware that this requires an effective understanding of a legal 64-page guide. That’s before getting their heads around the online system for claims.

Who needs experts

Motorists will have to handle any initial medical fees incurred and use a MedCo approved expert. Along with this, claimants will need to estimate the cost of any additional injuries incurred in motor accidents.

“It’s all incredibly bizarre,” adds Colin. Motorists may have to “fork out for costly legal fees”, while also becoming “theoretical and medical experts just to get the compensation they deserve”. There is “no guarantee of winning”.