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Law Society slams plan to end minor injury claims

The Law Society has heavily criticised government proposals to abolish the right to compensation for so-called minor injuries, including whiplash in road traffic accidents. Chancellor George Osborne has also announced plans to increase the limit for Personal Injury Claims in the small claims court to £5,000.
Although the small claims change may appear helpful, in practice it means that victims of accidents seeking compensation up to the value of £5,000 would not be eligible for any legal fees, which they can currently recover if they win their case. The result is that they will have to represent themselves – which many are not qualified, confident or otherwise able to do for various reasons – or give up part of their compensation on these costs. Even more concerning is the plan to prevent victims of road accidents claiming compensation for “minor” soft tissue injuries, leaving them with no redress.
Where an injured person does represent themselves, they will be invited, by experienced insurers, to settle claims with no means of ascertaining what their claim is actually worth.
The proposals have understandably been the subject of heavy criticism by representatives from the legal industry. Jonathan Smithers, President of the Law Society, said: “The Law Society is gravely concerned that these proposals will completely undermine the right of ordinary citizens to receive full and proper compensation from those that have injured them through negligence.

Personal injury claims, even lower value claims, can include serious injuries arising from the fault of an employer or other road traffic accidents where legal rights can be very complex and the injuries caused debilitating. A new limit of £5000 will mean personal injuries including facial scarring would be considered as ‘small claims’. This is totally unacceptable.”
Diane Parker, head of personal injury at Atherton Godfrey, said: “These proposals will put the victim at a huge disadvantage. At a vulnerable time in their life, they will have to navigate the complex legal system without proper advice or support. Whilst, on the other hand, those defending the claims will have access to legal representation – a wholly unfair situation that prevents those who have suffered harm from accessing the justice they deserve.”

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