After five long years the implementation of the new whiplash reforms are due to go live on the 31st May 2021.
For those that are unaware, the whiplash reforms form part of the Civil Liability Act 2018. This was a series of measures designed to reduce insurance costs for motorists, whilst tackling the compensation culture around the volume of whiplash claims within the insurance industry.
To be clear, whiplash claim are not banned.
The reforms will introduce fixed fee damages for whiplash claims and increase the financial limit of claims managed through the current ‘small claims track’ from £1,000 to £5,000. This means that claims up to £5,000, claimant’s representative’s costs will no longer be recoverable from the compensating insurer.
As part of the reforms a new online portal has been developed. This is called ‘Official Injury Claim’ Portal. The intention is that the new portal will be for individuals to manage their own claims rather than rely on legal representation.
Key points to consider
The Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal will open for use on 31 May 2021. Individuals injured in RTAs occurring on or after this date will then be able to use the portal to make a bodily injury claim.
Submission of claims on the OIC Portal are linked to an MID search. This puts added focus on ensuring accurate MID record keeping.
A legal definition of what constitutes a “whiplash” injury is contained in the Civil Liabilities Act:
“Injury of soft tissue in the neck, back or shoulder that is a sprain, strain, tear, rupture or lesser damage of a muscle, tendon or ligament in the neck, back or shoulder, or an injury of soft tissue associated with a muscle, tendon or ligament in the neck, back or shoulder.”
BAN ON PRE-MEDICAL OFFERS
The new legislation introduces a ban on offering to settle, or settling claims without obtaining appropriate medical evidence for injuries falling within the definition of “whiplash”.
The introduction of a tariff for whiplash claims so there would no longer be arguments over the amount to be awarded because it’s fixed in law.
The following claimant’s excluded from the OIC Portal, minors, vulnerable road users, such as, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
Due to the uplift in the small claims limit, it is expected that most injured parties will now follow the unpresented process.
The OIC Portal have prepared a Guide to Making a Claim to assist unrepresented claimants through the new process. Below is a link to the user guide.
IMPORTANT CHNAGES TO THE NEW RULES
- The new rules provide for different types of court proceedings for different types of disputes. The main disputes will be on liability, assessing the claim value, failure to pay agreed amounts, interim payment and fees.
- The new rules require defendants to support any full or partial denial of liability with a supporting Statement of Truth. This will be within the first 30 days prior to responding on liability.
- The Statement of Truth is a legal agreement by the signatory that they believe the version of events to be true. The statement is uploaded into the new OIC Portal.
- Importantly, if the insurer does NOT make a decision within the timescale (30 days), then they are deemed to admit liability.
Key points for policyholders:
- Notify claims as quickly as possible.
- Timely disclosure of related documentation, for instance proof of sale.
- Keep MID records up to date.