Ensuring justice in new whiplash reforms

The coming whiplash reforms will be a major inflection point for the claims sector. Insurers are expectant that rapidly rising repair costs and managing an increase in fraudulent behaviour will be more than offset by significantly reduced legal costs and compensation payments. This optimism may be somewhat diminished once the theory becomes a reality.

The march towards greater digitalisation is everywhere of course and the resolution of legal disputes is no exception. Getting the balance right in a fully digitalised claims process between automation and individual circumstances will take time. No new system, and certainly one implementing such fundamental changes, is ever going to be perfect. Many in the claimant community will continue to have legitimate concerns about a new system with several integral flaws, but it is happening, and these flaws must be managed or mitigated.

There is much to be done. Although the low tariff of damages will not change any time soon, we shall continue to press for a fairer settlement for those suffering from whiplash injuries. Further significant changes to the Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal will certainly be necessary to address credit hire and other issues. We have continued to be part of the cross-industry discussions around the difficult and complex issue of mixed injuries. The new OIC will clearly generate a volume of claims data and ensuring that this information will be shared equally with all relevant parties remains an important issue. It is encouraging that MoJ are going to introduce a governance system consisting of external stakeholder representatives to advise and assist in the development and operation of the new OIC.

Whilst these are all important issues, it must not be forgotten that the purpose for all this was to ultimately benefit the consumer. The focus has unfortunately always been on the potential financial benefits for car insurance premium holders, which most likely will never materialise having been lost in other rising costs. The real challenge is going to be ensuring that justice is not prejudiced or disadvantaged. We will never lose sight of this responsibility to protect vulnerable accident victims in pursuing the justice that they deserve and need.

Ensuring justice in new whiplash reformsEnsuring justice in new whiplash reformsPaul Nicholls, author of ‘Ensuring justice in new whiplash reforms’ is Chair of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) and Senior Partner at Nicholls Brimble Bhol Solicitors.

This article first appeared in Modern Insurance Magazine Issue 47

Our Mission Statement

MASS promotes the highest standards of legal services through education and representation in the pursuit of justice for victims of road traffic accidents.