The latest Government announcement on plans to reduce whiplash claims by increasing the small claims limit to £5000 have been lambasted as an ‘attack on the poor’ by David Bott, Senior Partner of Bott and Co and Past President of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.
The proposal, announced this morning as a period of consultation begins, will make it even more difficult for genuinely injured people to make a claim for compensation as they would have to represent themselves in the small claims court directly against the insurance companies.
The timing of the consultation is questionable, particularly as one of the options presented is to not change the Small Claims threshold in light of the LASPO reforms coming into force in April 2013. Surely we need to see how the dust settles post-April in order to assess whether this is the right option?
Additionally, we are still in a period of consultation on the reduced portal fees. Could it be that this latest consultation, which an independent person could easily mistake for an Association of British Insurers (ABI) document, has been released now in order to detract and distract from the consultation on portal fees?
Surely we need to see how the dust settles post-April in order to assess whether this is the right option?
The insurance industry has been extremely effective in getting their views heard by the Government thus far. However, is this a step too far? Are the insurers risking losing public support if this proposal to increase the small claims limit goes ahead?
“The Government..appear to care very little about the thousands of genuine claimants that will lose out as a result of these changes.”
David Bott believes that of all the injured people to lose out, it will be the poorest who are most affected by the changes. “There is no doubt that less people will claim the compensation they are legally entitled to under the proposals and this appears to be the government’s and insurer’s objective. However, they appear to care very little about the thousands of genuine claimants that will lose out as a result of these changes.
“The people that will be most affected are people in lower income families where compensation for whiplash represents a significantly higher proportion of their salary and therefore who are traditionally more likely to make a whiplash claim. This doesn’t make them any less genuine than anyone else yet they will suffer most. It’s an attack on the poor, another tax on those that are already hit hardest in this current climate.”
Given the title of the consultation is ‘reducing the number and costs of whiplash claims’, rather than ‘focussing attention on road safety and preventing accidents and injuries occurring in the first instance’, it appears the Government’s approach is entirely misdirected.