The new whiplash reforms

Wed Jul 28 2021

What are the new whiplash reforms?

The new whiplash reforms were due to come into effect in April 2020, but they were delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but they have now been in effect since May 2021. The new reforms are part of the Civil Liability Act 2018, and the new rules have been designed to change personal injury claims after a road traffic accident. These changes were made with the intent to pay out less in claims, and these savings could be passed on to the customers as they will start seeing the cost of motor insurance premiums come down. It is estimated that car insurance premiums will come down by approximately £35 a year. 

What are the main changes?

  • A new online portal which will make claims easier. 
  • Increasing the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000
  • A new official definition of ‘whiplash’
  • A ban on claims being settled without medical evidence. 

These changes only apply to accidents which resulted from a road traffic accident, if you are a ‘vulnerable’ road user, these new rules do not reply. A vulnerable road user could be a cyclist, motorcyclist, horse rider or a pedestrian. 

New online portal

The new Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal was up and running from the 31st May 2021, and anyone that was involved in a road traffic accident which occured on or after this date, and suffered an injury could use this portal to submit a claim. 

Increasing the small claims limit

The small claims limit has increased from £1,000 to £5,000 for road traffic accident cases. If your claim is worth less than £5,000 you will have to use the Small Claims Court, doing this means you cannot claim money back for the legal costs, support from a solicitor or representation. You will either have to pay for these things yourself, represent yourself or not make the claim at all. These changes have been brought in to try and crack down on fraudulent claims. 

Whiplash Definition

The new definition of whiplash is ‘a soft tissue injury in the neck, back or shoulder which amounts to a sprain, strain, tear, rupture, or lesser damage (or a soft tissue injury associated with) a muscle, tendon, or ligament in the neck, back or shoulder. 

Medical Evidence

The new rules have introduced a ban on settling claims without obtaining proof of medical injuries which come under the new definition of whiplash. This should be a huge factor in cutting down on fraudulent claims. 

Whiplash Culture

The government said these changes were made to tackle ‘whiplash culture’, and it would allow claimants pursue small claims up to £5,000 without using a lawyer. The Ministry of Justice said that the number of whiplash claims in 2019/20 was unacceptably high, as there was 550,000. The Lord Chancellor said that the reforms would put an end to ‘greedy opportunism’. 

The chief executive of the Motor Insurer’s Bureau (MIB), Dominic Clayden said ‘MIB’s focus has always been about making sure the new legal process is as easy and straightforward as possible’