Rise in small claims limit
Having a claim handled professionally by a qualified solicitor could be under threat by a recent government proposal to raise the small claims limit in personal Injury claims to over £5,000. The second round of changes to personal injury claims comes after the government made radical changes to the way injured people can recover compensation for accidents.
The main reason behind this proposal according to the government is to tackle fraudulent whiplash claims. Under current regulations, claims for injuries that are worth more than £1000 are above what is known as the small claims limit, meaning that in a successful case the defence are obliged to pay legal costs of the claimant.
The vast majority of personal injury claims are worth less than £5000 so the proposed changes would mean that, in most cases, clients would have to pay their solicitors out of their damages or represent themselves against powerful insurance companies and their lawyers!
Fraudulent Personal injury claims
The rise in the small claims limit is hoped to deter the ever growing number of fraudulent claims. It is hoped that because claimants would now need to pay for their medical examinations and other reports up front, those looking to undertake a fraudulent claim would back out. Unfortunately, considering a successful claimant stands to gain between £1000 and £3000, fraudulent claimants could view the upfront costs as a small price to pay.
If the small claims limit is raised it is likely that genuine claimants will be hardest hit. The cost of upfront medicals and reports is likely to deter genuine claimants from pursuing their claim. If a claimant does want to claim, but doesn't want to take on the risk of solicitors fees, they would be forced to represent themselves against huge insurance companies. This causes more problems as many genuine claimants won’t possess the necessary knowledge and expertise to run a case themselves.
In these cases claimants may then turn to Claim Management Companies (CPCs) some of which possess little to no legal qualifications which could damage a client’s claim and see clients encouraged to take the first offer of any compensation presented, which in many cases is considerably lower than what a claim may actually be worth.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers believes that while the policy on paper seems to tackle fraud it will in fact struggle to reduce the number of fraudulent cases and will leave genuine claimants with no form of support. President Karl Tonks said: “Any arbitrary increase in the small claims court limit for personal injury would just force injured people into a system which is fit only for settling disputes about faulty goods and services, not for dealing with complex matters of law
Against the rise in small claims limit in Personal injury claims
We here at Fonseca & Partners believe that the client is the most important person in the legal proceedings and we treat every client like a human being. We are against any rise in the small claims limit and hope that common sense and natural justice will prevail and the small claims limit will not be increased.
If you've had an accident and unfortunately fallen foul of a personal injury. Don’t just accept it; make sure you get the compensation you deserve. To discuss a new claim please get in contact with us on 01495 303124 of fill out our online Personal Injury Claim Form. You can also pop into our Ebbw Vale office to speak with our solicitors directly.