Law firms are currently preparing for the 31 May 2021 as new legislation is being put into place regarding small road traffic accident (rta) claims.
The legislation to change the limit for RTA claims, which forms part of the Civil Liability Act 2018, previously had a starting date of April 2020; however, due to the Covid outbreak it was then delayed. The pre-action protocol for the handling of claims within the new official injury claim portal has also been published.
The aim of these reforms is to reduce the cost and occurrence of motor insurance in the UK. The insurance industry must learn to adapt to these new systems/reforms as automated insurance claims have been known to be particularly difficult for insurers to navigate.
Due to these new reforms, there are soon to be some major changes to rta claims and who will be eligible to make them. Some of which are changes regarding whiplash claims. Due to the whiplash reforms, the Ministry of Justice has created a new Whiplash Portal that will deal with all RTA claims after the long-anticipated date. This new Portal has been designed to handle any injury claims from claimants.
Whiplash claims portal: What is the portal for?
The amendments to the civil procedure rules has established how the new whiplash portal and OIC claims management will work.
The official injury claim portal has been created so that individuals can file whiplash claims after the legislation is put into place. With the introduction of the higher limit on RTA small claims, a claimant will now only be able to submit their case using the new OIC portal.
The portal is designed to handle official injury claims from unrepresented claimants. This is due to the fact that the small claims limit is rising to £5000, meaning that costs are now not recoverable for claims below that figure.
Claimants will no longer be able to request legal representation fees as part of their claim therefore, they will now have to fund their legal support personally or represent themselves. Claimants may still need assistance outside the OIC portal for additional services such as understanding tariffs for more complex injuries or medical reports.
There will be some exceptions to the new changes vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians or cyclists, will be exempt from the small claims increase and won’t be included in the changes. Therefore, the small claims track limit will remain at £1,000. For all other personal injury claims, such as workplace accidents, the intention is to increase the small claims limit to £2,000.
Whiplash claims portal: How will this effect those involved in a Road Traffic Accident?
Individuals that have sustained whiplash injuries must submit their claim via the new OIC portal claims service. Once their case has been submitted, the claimants will then need to:
- Ensure that they have presented their claim information clearly and correctly
- Upon an admission liability, contact a medical expert to prepare a report on their whiplash injuries
- Then interpret the medical evidence appropriately
If anyone involved in a road traffic accident suffers whiplash and requires any medical treatment such as physiotherapy, they could be forced to pay for their treatment themselves, in the hope of claiming the fees back via their claim or by accepting an offer of rehabilitation from third party insurers.
Some claims may be eligible for a fast-track process if it is believed that the case will not exceed the £25,000 and the case is relatively straightforward. Individuals can determine if they are eligible for this process by accessing the portal support centre for more information.