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APIL – proposed changes to small claims limits treats whiplash sufferers as an ‘inconvenience’

Personal injury solicitors have launched a final attack on the government’s proposed plans to increase small claims limits following the recently completed consultation period.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) described the proposals as being based on a flawed premise which are supported by scant evidence and will do little to achieve the proposed aims of countering fraud within the claims process.

APIL also claim that it is extremely doubtful that motor insurers will pass on any savings they make to consumers.

APIL claim that the proposed removal of general damages for all minor road traffic accident-related soft tissue injuries is actually unlawful, and described the £25 payment for psychological harm as ‘derisory’.

The outcome of increasing the personal injury small claims limit to £5,000 would therefore restrict access to justice and have no affect on the levels of fraud, according to APIL.

President of APIL, Neil Sugarman, said:

“It’s as if people with injuries should never have happened in the first place are just an inconvenience which can casually be brushed aside.”

He also stated that the plans would force whiplash claimants to jump through “higher hoops” to secure the compensation that they are entitled to.

Sugarman went on to claim that the government’s suggestion that the changes will lead to lower insurance premiums is naive:

“The government is naïve enough to believe that the savings insurers will make on paying compensation will result in lower insurance premiums.

“Insurance industry figures show quite clearly that the industry has made savings of around £500m a year since the last round of personal injury reforms three years ago but premiums have actually increased by 8% during the same period.”

APIL says that the government’s emphasis on the benefits to insurance companies reveals a ‘fundamental imbalance’ in their approach which is ‘profoundly unfair’ on those who have suffered an injury as a result of an accident that wasn’t their fault.

The proposed changes mean that many claimants could be forced to pursue whiplash compensation claims without legal representation, as they would fall below the £5,000 limit, which could lead to under-compensation.

APIL have published a 70-page document in response to the government’s claims that whiplash and other soft tissue injury claims linked to road traffic accident’s are on the increase, pointing out that such claims have actually fallen by 41% since 2010/11.

On top of that, APIL suggest that any data relating to fraud relates to the levels of car accident and liability insurance fraud in general – overlooking the statistic that in 2015 only one in 400 motor claims was proven as fraudulent.