Parliament may have now broken for its summer recess, but no further news about the fundamental shake up of the personal injury market has yet come to light. The consultation on the potential reform of the personal injury market proposals, driven by former Chancellor, George Osbourne, and including, amongst other things, the scrapping of general damages for minor soft-tissue injuries and increasing the small claims limit for personal injury claims to £5,000, had been expected before the Commons broke for the summer, but with Brexit and a new cabinet only just bedding in, publication has understandably been put on the backburner. No further news on the consultation is expected until September at the earliest.
However, one fact that has come to light is that there has been a significant fall in the number of whiplash claims over the last 12 months according to official government figures. The figures were uncovered following a freedom of information (FOI) request submitted by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
According to official figures the government’s compensation recovery unit recorded 335,365 claims in 2015/16 where the compensator had used the term ‘whiplash’ within the injury description field. This figure showed a drop of 11 per cent on the 2014/15 figures, where a total of 376,513 claims were identified in the same criteria. When viewed over the longer term, last year’s drop in claims numbers is even more marked. In 2013/14 410,215 ‘whiplash’ claims were lodged; in 2012/13 the number of claims was 488,281.
How accurate are the figures? Can they be relied upon? Well, yes, APIL believes they can. As the figures are taken from the government’s own agency and were based upon figures reported by compensators/ insurers, then APIL believes the figures are definitely accurate.
APIL is also calling on the government to be more open and clear about its long-term plans for the personal injury sector as it believes uncertainty is causing unnecessary and avoidable problems. This call for clarity was also echoed by claims management behemoth, National Accident Helpline. It has stated that there is an urgent need for government clarity regarding its plans for reforming the personal injury market. In a statement to the Stock Exchange, National Accident Helpline said it had experienced a significant reduction in overall case volumes which it attributed directly to what it termed ‘current regulatory uncertainty.’
If you have been involved in a personal injury incident, contact one of our Harold Stock & Co Solicitors today.