Road Traffic Accidents

Major Changes to RTA Claims – May 2021

There are planned changes to small injury claims, which would affect those who are in road traffic accidents, and suffer any type of whiplash injuries for which they could currently seek support from a solicitor. Here we look at the proposed change and how this will affect those wishing to make a claim going forwards.

How does a claim for whiplash work currently?

At present, you can instruct a solicitor to represent you for any small claim worth at least £1,000. On the existing tariff, this would qualify the majority of injuries which aren’t classed as minor. Successful claimants can recover a portion of their legal costs from the third party insurers (the insurance company of the defendant who you are claiming against).

This allows claimants to instruct solicitors on a “No win no Fee” basis, removing the need for any up-front payment; some of the fees are recovered from the third party insurers at the conclusion of the case, if successful.

However, the changes which are about to come into force will change this process and bring in new claim guidelines and tariffs.

What is a “tariff”?
There is an official list of common injuries compiled for personal injury cases, which gives an estimated compensation amount associated with that injury type. Though this is only a guideline, it can be a useful indicator as to how much you may be awarded.

What are the proposed changes?

If you suffer a whiplash injury in an RTA (road traffic accident) where the claim amount is projected to be worth less than £5,000, your legal representative will not be able to obtain any costs from the third party insurers for taking on your case.

For all other personal injury claims such as workplace accidents, tripping accidents, and other injuries sustained in public places, the intention is also to increase the small claims limit, though to just £2,000. This is open to change and has yet to be finalized.

With the introduction of the higher limit on RTA small claims, a claimant will only be able to submit their case using the new OIC portal. With no option to submit a request for legal representation fees as part of their claim, a claimant will either need to represent themselves or choose to fund legal support personally.

What is the OIC portal?
The Official Injury Claim Portal, or OIC Portal, is an online system where an individual can file a claim for whiplash injuries. Although it can assist with completing the claim information, you may still require assistance outside the portal for additional services such as medical reports or understanding tarrifs for more complex injuries.

In addition to being unable to recover legal costs for a solicitor for claims worth less than £5,000, the valuation of injuries tariff will also be adjusted. At present, a neck injury with a prognosis of 3 months is currently valued around £2,300, yet under the new tariff will be valued at £240.

There are some exceptions to the new changes, however. Vulnerable road users will be exempt from the small claims increase, which means that cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and cases involving children won’t be included in the changes and the small claims limit will therefore remain at £1,000.

Originally, the changes for the RTA small claims limit was scheduled for April 2020, but due to the Coronavirus pandemic, they were postponed and will now come into force on 31st May 2021.

These changes have allegedly been proposed in an attempt to reduce and deterr false claims, largely those involving whiplash in road traffic accidents. It’s estimated that these changes may see a reduction on car insurance premiums, although previous cuts in costs to solicitors did not result in savings being passed onto motorists.

How will this affect anyone who is involved in a Road Traffic Accident?

Anyone who sustains whiplash injuries need to submit their claim via the new OIC portal. Once the case has been submitted, the claimant will then need to:

  • Ensure they have presented their claim information clearly and correctly
  • Upon an admission of liability, instruct a medical expert to prepare a report on their injuries
  • Interpret the medical evidence appropriately

RTA cases are rarely straighforwards. It is not yet clear what the process will be if there is a denial of liability or if a medical expert recommends the claimant undergo additional medical investigations, for example an MRI scan.

There are also risks involved for claimants representing themselves in terms of settling their case, even if liability is accepted. A lack of experience and understanding in relation to how the process works could result in accepting a much lower offer than could otherwise have been achieved.

If anyone involved in a road traffic accident suffers whiplash and requires treatment such as physiotherapy, they may be forced to pay for any treatment up front themselves in the hope of claiming the fees back via their claim, or alternatively, accept an offer of rehabilitation from the third party insurers directly.

What if you sustain other injuries in the accident?
If additional injuries have been sustained during an RTA aside from whiplash, a solicitor can still be instructed on a “no win no fee” basis. The tariffs for injuries such as knee, head, foot, etc. should not be affected by the changes.

When running an injury claim, there are several parties involved; this includes two insurance companies and the possibility of several claimants and witnesses, so things can quickly become complex and stressful. In addition, a claimant may have to independently obtain witness evidence, police reports, physiotherapy reports, medical records, engineering evidence and more in order to progress their case. These are just some of the tasks which would previously have been dealt with by the instructed solicitor.

The OIC claims portal launch has been postponed several times so far, amid concerns of its ease of use and whether it is fit for purpose. Whether the rights of the public to access legal representation in these cases have been protected has also been called into question.

It is feared that rather than have the claimant’s best interests in mind when implementing these legislations, it seems the main aim of the reforms is to save insurance companies money at the expense and detriment of people who are genuinely injured.

Despite the changes making it much more difficult to claim for minor whiplash injuries, you may still be able to seek advice from a solicitor to support you through your case.

Can I still make a claim in the meantime?

It is still possible to start a claim and the procedure will, at the time of writing, not be affected until 31st May 2021. We understand that any road traffic accident after the 31st May will be subject to the new changes and therefore if you have been involved in an accident before this date, the small claims limit of £1,000 is applicable and the new rules and tariffs will not apply.

If you have been involved in a road traffic accident and wish to discuss a claim, our friendly team are here to assist and offer advice on the best way forward.

Catastrophic Injury Claims – If It’s Life Changing, What Do You Do Next?

catastrophic injury claim

Catastrophic injuries are generally defined as any serious injury that may result in permanent disability, long-lasting medical problems, a decreased quality of life or reduced life-expectancy. In a serious injury case, there are many additional factors to consider.

The treatment and follow up care for catastrophic cases tend to be expensive, involving multiple procedures, continuous care and frequently impairs a person’s daily life and capacity to support themselves. These injuries can cause intense pain and trauma and can have a distressing impact on you and your family.

What type of case constitutes a catastrophic injury?

 
Whether you’ve been in a road traffic accident, had an accident at work or in a public place, all of these can be escalated to a serious injury claim, requiring the specialist knowledge of an experienced injury solicitor. It’s imperative that each client’s situation is analysed from the beginning, on a case by case basis to ensure the full and correct care is provided.

These serious types of injury can mean that you are no longer able to work. You may also need adaptations or disabled facilities in your home and your car, as well as some level of care, physiotherapy or treatment for the rest of your life. If this happens, it’s important to have a specialist solicitor on your side who can ensure you receive all of this ongoing support, to give you peace of mind in the short-term to meet your immediate needs, as well as the long-term.

Although we can often ascertain the severity of your injuries during our initial consultation with you, in some cases the extent of the impact of your injuries only come to light later. It’s therefore imperative that the medical report from your injury is understood thoroughly, and any specialists you are referred to for examination are highly competent.

At IMS Law, our in-house experience in dealing with these more complex cases is invaluable in these situations. We also only refer to the highest quality specialists we have long working relationships with, so we can be confident that each stage is handled professionally and conscientiously.

Here we will look at a previous catastrophic injury case handled by IMS Law. The identity has been anonymised for client confidentiality.

Case study – Work Accident

 
We were instructed by K directly following an accident in which he was injured at work. K was in the course of his employment working on a building site where a property was being converted into apartments. On the day of the accident K was working on the 3rd floor and was instructed by a colleague to access a skylight in the roof. The Skylight had to be opened to allow an engineer to access the roof.

The only available ladder was placed into the skylight but could only be positioned at a shallow angle until the skylight was opened. K climbed the ladder and successfully opened the skylight. As K prepared to descend the ladder, it slipped, falling from the skylight, due to it’s shallow angle and K fell to the ground, whereupon he sustained personal injuries.

K suffered a complex fracture to the right pelvis and was expected to suffer with long term symptoms. His walking distance was restricted by half a mile and he experienced difficulties with personal care and dressing for several months and needed care. The Defendants originally disputed the allegations as they alleged that K was partially to blame for his injuries but did state they would deal with the matter on a contributory negligence liability basis.

contributory negligence liability basis: This is where a claim is settled on a percentage basis, with both parties involved accepting shared responsibility for an accident. The overall figure will be determined, and if found in the claimant’s favour, the Defendant will be expected to pay the agreed percentage of that claim to them.

After we conducted an in-depth examination of the evidence on file, we negotiated a settlement to 80% contributory negligence in K’s favour which was agreed by all parties. This further investigation by IMS Law ensured we received the appropriate award from the Defendant, as we always strive to ensure that you receive all of the compensation you deserve.

K needed extensive physiotherapy treatment and was cared for by a relative for several months whilst he was recovering and during this period we arranged the required treatment and also obtained several interim payments so that the Claimant was able to continue with his treatment and recovery without worrying about any financial implications.

We arranged required MRI scans and  instructed specialist medical experts who advised K to be handicapped on the open labour market in relation to his previous profession, which included performing heavy manual tasks. He therefore had a claim for a disadvantage on the open labour market. (Smith v Manchester award.) A claim for a disadvantage on the open labour market depends on whether your future ability, or capacity to earn has been compromised by your injuries. If your injuries are likely to put you at a disadvantage in future, you may be entitied to make a claim for a Smith v Manchester award.

Following subsequent meetings with an independent Barrister, organised by IMS Law, and further negotiations with the Defendants, K was awarded a settlement figure for his serious injury claim to the sum of £120,000.00 that included a claim for cost of care, disadvantage on the open labour market, travelling expenses and compensation for personal injury.

If I’ve had an accident how can I get help with a serious injury claim?

 
At IMS law we can assist you and your family and arrange any rehabilitation, treatment, care, loss of earnings and claim compensation for your injuries. We work to relieve your financial burdens to allow you and your family to focus on the most important thing: your recovery. To read more about serious injury claim processes, go to our dedicated page here.

If you need to speak to our friendly team to discuss your situation, give us a call today, fill in our contact form or get in touch via our live chat function. We will be happy to discuss your accident with you and give you no-obligation advice. If you are happy for us to represent you, we will walk you through each stage and start working on getting you the support you need.

The 5 Biggest Accident Black Spots On St Helens Roads

st helens road traffic accident

Every town and city has their black spots on their roads. They generally centre around roundabouts, blind corners or difficult to negotiate junctions, with the severity of accidents usually increasing in relation to the speed limits on the surrounding roads. Here we look at the top 5 spots which regularly see a car accident in St Helens, and how it compares with the rest of the country.

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New Laws For Mobile Phone Use Behind The Wheel – Take Our Quiz

You could ask anyone if it’s illegal to use a mobile phone when driving and you can be pretty sure the answer would be a resounding “yes”.

Using your mobile phone while driving seems a clear enough concept, but are the rules around what constitutes mobile phone use as straightforward as they seem? With more changes to the law being implemented in November 2019, make sure you’re up to date with the all of the legislation.

Take our quiz to see if you can get full marks. You can check out our page on this subject to review the information afterwards, once you’ve completed the quiz.

If you need other legal advice, get in touch with our friendly team of solicitors here.

How Long Does a Road Traffic Accident Claim Take?

How long a road traffic accident takes can depend on several factors. The main thing to take into consideration is the severity of your injuries and the treatment you require. You will receive a prognosis from a specialist during your claim and you may either choose to settle within this period or wait until the prognosis period has lapsed.

If you wait until the prognosis period has lapsed to ensure your injuries have fully healed, you may require another examination if you decide to further extend your claim. With so many factors involved in how long a road traffic accident claim can take, it can vary the claim period from a few months for less severe injuries, to several years in more extreme circumstances where you have life-changing injuries which require ongoing care.

Being involved in a road traffic accident can be very upsetting and confusing for everyone involved, thankfully IMS Law have helped thousands of clients to claim compensation.

With more than 165,000 road traffic casualties reported in the UK last year alone, we caught up with Litigation Executive, Kim Hatton, to find out more about what you should do following a road traffic accident and how IMS Law can help.

So, what should someone do after a road traffic accident?

Kim: Immediately after a car accident people find it hard to think straight. There are however a few helpful steps you should take, such as:

  • Take the full name and address of the driver/s of the other vehicle/s involved
  • If possible take photos of the scene of the accident, the other vehicle/s involved including the damage sustained (showing the vehicle registration plate/s)
  • If an injury has occurred, report the incident to the police as soon as possible
  • Report the matter to your insurers as soon as possible
  • Obtain names and addresses of witnesses if possible
  • Check to see if any of the driver/s or witnesses have a dash camera which recorded the accident
  • Keep full details of losses and expenses incurred as a result of the accident – keeping receipts where possible
  • Seek immediate medical attention if necessary

You are legally obligated to inform your insurance company when you’ve been involved in an accident. However do not be pressured into utilising their own legal services, you are entitled to choose your own representative to act on your behalf and that’s where IMS can help.

What types of road traffic accident claims are there?

Kim: At IMS we have experience in every type of road traffic accident claim. We’ve helped passengers in a vehicle at fault, made children’s claims, claims against uninsured drivers, acted on behalf of passengers on a bus or coach, motorbike claims, pedestrian claims, passengers in a taxi, and multiple vehicle accidents to name just a few.

It isn’t common knowledge that if a child is involved in a road traffic accident, their parent or guardian can pursue a compensation claim on their behalf and act as the Litigation Friend.

Can someone claim compensation from an uninsured or untraced driver?

Kim: Yes, IMS can make a claim for you through the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) under the Uninsured or Untraced Drivers Agreement.

IMS will then liaise with the Motor Insurers Bureau on your behalf to ensure the best possible outcome for you.

How long does someone have to make a claim after a road traffic accident?

Kim: The general rule for adults who are considering making a claim for personal injury compensation is that you have three years from the date of the accident to start the claims process.

If a claim has not been settled or Court Proceedings have not been issued by the 3rd anniversary of the accident, your claim may be considered ‘time-barred’ leaving you ineligible for compensation.

The rules for children who have sustained injury as a result of an accident are slightly different to that of an adult. The three-year time limit still applies, however a child has three years from the date of their 18th birthday in which to process a claim.

Therefore a claim processed after the date of a child’s 18th birthday must have either settled or Court proceedings issued before they reach their 21st birthday.

Again their claim may be considered ‘time-barred’ leaving them ineligible for compensation if either of the above have not been completed.

How much compensation do people usually receive after a car accident?

Kim: The amount can vary depending on the circumstances and the level of injuries sustained.

It also depends on the length of time in which you suffer from the injuries. This includes the extent of the treatment you require, such as taking medication to control pain and discomfort, the impact the injuries have had on your everyday life and your ability to work.

At IMS our personal injury team will be able to give you a valuation of your claim once we have received completed medical evidence.

How are road traffic accident cases funded?

Kim: At IMS our road traffic accident claims are funded on a no win, no fee basis. This is known as a ‘conditional fee agreement.’

The benefit of a no win, no fee agreement is that there are no financial risks to you. You do not have to pay any upfront costs to start a claim and are only required to contribute towards legal fees if your claim is successful.

If your claim is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay us anything.

If we are successful in securing you compensation, the contribution you make is capped at 25% from the amount you receive. We always explain the funding arrangements during our initial consultation before anyone enters into any arrangements with us.

If you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident contact IMS Law now to begin your compensation claim.

Where to find us

Visit:
IMS Law
89 Corporation Street
St Helens,
Merseyside
WA10 1SX
Call: 01744 612549
Email:

Mon to Fri – 9:00 to 17:00

IMS Law
Corporation Street, Saint Helens WA10 1SX, UK

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