April 1st is that day – we all know it is April fool’s day, so many might think what follows is our attempt at an April fool, except it’s not.
From today, the radical new personal injury reforms come into effect, which will hugely impact on the 100% compensation which has been so successful for personal injury claims.
Many may say the reforms are a good thing as they will certainly hugely reduce the massive number of whiplash claims where there has certainly been a lot of fraud and exaggeration. The problem is that the reforms are in effect taking a hammer to the proverbial nutshell in that they will also make it much more difficult for the thousands of legitimately injured and innocent victims of negligence to make claims.
The reason this will happen is that a huge number of smaller personal injury claims, by value, will now be small claims matters and in the small claims court, neither side will be able to recover costs, so any damages that are received will have to be used to pay out lawyers fees. It si entirely possible if not probable that insurers will increase a tactic they are already adept at, delaying and racking up costs on the other side to force a settlement.
Insurers are even lobbying for lawyers to be cut out of the picture altogether, arguing that they (the insurers) offer reasonable amounts in any event for accident claims and it’s the lawyers who create the problem by advising clients to push for more money for their own self interested reasons. Those who have dealt with insurers in any kind of claim would probably agree that in many cases, insurers do look to pay out the minimum only, if anything and cannot be relied upon to be fair and reasonable since, after all, they are in business to make money.
Other impacts of the reforms will undoubtedly be (and this has already started to happen) a significant number of persona injury forms shutting down and a lot of consolidation in the sector. It has always been, compared to other ;aw firm work, fairly “dog eat dog” but budgets for advertising will now be even more important, and most firms will change strategy, looking for the higher value work which will not be small claims, such as claims for medical negligence and perhaps niche but growing areas such as compensation claims for cosmetic surgery.
All in all interesting times, and just in case you still think we may be attempting an April fool, you can read more about the reforms here.