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From April 2020, the law relating to personal injury claims is changing so that the number of claims that will have to be pursued in the small claims court will significantly increase.
At the moment, only claims with general damages of less than £1,000 are dealt with in the small claims court, but, under the provisions of the Civil Liability Act 2018, that limit is being increased to £2,000 (personal injury claims relating to road traffic accidents will have a new limit of £5,000).
The law has been changed because the Government feels that the increase to the limit is required to reflect inflation since the limit was originally set in 1999. The increase to the higher road traffic accident limit is due to a concern about false claims (primarily whiplash claims) and is designed to try and deter such fictitious claims.
These changes to the law relating to personal injury claims are important because, in the small claims court, you cannot recover the legal costs of bringing your claim from the other side if your claim is successful.
Many solicitors will refuse to undertake whiplash claims once the reforms are enacted. As the House of Commons Justice Committee recognised in its report on the Civil Liability Act, this means that people are less likely to use a solicitor to help them bring their claim which creates “significant access to justice concerns”.
PSR Solicitors will however continue to act for all personal injury claimants on a No Win No Fee basis.
You don’t have to use a solicitor to take your claim to any court. This is particularly true with the small claims court, which is intended to be a more informal environment.
However, that is because the small claims court was intended to deal solely with low value claims, which are usually not as complicated as higher value cases. With the previous £1,000 limit in place, very few personal injury cases were heard in the small claims court (minor cuts, bruises, short-term whiplash injuries, for example). The doubling of this limit to £2,000, though, means that far more personal injury cases will be before the small claims court, some of which will now involve much more serious injuries (such as fractures and facial injuries) and, most likely, much more complex issues of personal injury law.
Of course it is possible to represent yourself in a personal injury matter, and there are plans to introduce a new online process to assist people making a claim without a solicitor, but things can easily become complicated and you can quickly lose control of the case, resulting in receiving less compensation than you were entitled to, or, potentially, losing your case entirely.
Our dedicated personal injury team will be happy to help you by running the case for you.
The changes to the claim limits will be in force from April 2020, and they will apply to any claims started after that point. It will not matter that the injuries to which the claim relates, and the accident which cause those injuries, date from prior to April 2020. As a consequence, if you are currently considering whether or not to make a claim, it is important that you speak to one of our personal injury team as soon as possible to get some advice about whether you should proceed with a claim before the new limits take effect.
The small claims court is a less formal legal process which was designed to make it easier for people making claims which related to smaller, less complicated cases. These cases should take less than one day and usually take place reasonably soon after the events in question. Mediation is an important part of the process to try and settle claims without getting to court at all, and the central rule is to try and put the claimant into the same financial position they were in before the event took place.
From April 2020, personal injury claims under £2,000 (£5,000 for road traffic accidents) will be heard in the small claims court. You will still be able to make a claim and the government will expect you to do this yourself which is very unlikely, PSR Solicitors however will still undertake all types of personal injury claims and will be here to help you.
Appointments can be arranged by phone, Zoom or Skype video call or in person at one of our local offices.
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