The Civil Liability Act finally went into effect 31 May 2021.
The Civil Liability Act is intended to discourage fraudulent or exaggerated personal injury claims, which can lead to rising premiums. The government hopes to achieve this goal by:
- Reducing compensation for claims involving soft tissue injuries, such as those caused by whiplash that affect the victim for less than two years
- Increasing the small claims limit for car accident-related personal injury claims from £1,000 to £5,000
- Requiring that a medical assessment be performed before a claim is settled
- Creating a new online government system – the Official Injury Claim (OIC) – where claims under £5,000 can be filed and subsequently settled by the insurer
Motorists should check with their insurance provider to find out how these changes may specifically impact their policies.
One of the primary elements of the Civil Liability Act is the inclusion of whiplash reforms. Whiplash claims are a type of personal injury claim that arise from road traffic accidents in which a vehicle comes to a stop quickly. In these situations, the resulting force may inflict a whiplash injury upon the vehicle’s occupants. Whiplash injuries are the most common type of ailment to result from road traffic accidents. The Ministry of Justice hopes that these whiplash reforms will help lower insurance costs for the average driver by reducing the frequency of whiplash claims.
The new fixed tariff for whiplash injuries will see a significant decrease in how much money will be paid out to claimants. Injuries that last close to two years will see the smallest relative reduction, while short-term injuries will see significant decreases.
According to industry experts, the Civil Liability Act will result in approximately 95% of personal injury claims moving from the fast track to the small claims track. Once a claim is in the small claims track, it is important for policyholders to understand that solicitors’ fees cannot be recovered. As such, solicitors will no longer be able to market themselves as not charging a fee without winning a settlement.
With solicitors potentially being less available to claimants, policyholders will be enabled to represent themselves as a litigant in person when making a claim in the small claims track. The OIC is intended to assist claimants if they prefer to pursue their claim in this manner. This service will be available free of charge and will be overseen by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau. Claimants will not be able to select their own agent within the system.
After a number of delays, the Civil Liability Act is now in effect. With such major changes having taken place, it is important to understand how the legislation will affect any future personal injury claims, as well as any existing insurance policies.
Please contact us for more information on the Civil Liability Act.