Personal Injury Claim Changes

The Ministry of Justice has published its reponse to Lord Justice Jackson’s proposals for reform of the system for claiming compensation for personal injuries. Here is a summary of the recommendations, and how they might affect you:

1) Solicitors claim a “success fee” from the other side for winning the claim, where they have been acting on a no-win no-fee basis. This is to compensate for the risk of them losing the case and recovering no costs at all. At the moment, this success fee is payable by the other side. The Government believes that it would be preferable for claimants to pay this from their own damages instead (lmited to one quarter of the compensation recovered). This should not be retrospective, though, and all claims made before any change in the Law should therefore still enable the success fee to be recovered from the other side so your compensation will not be reduced.

2) When you start a claim, it is prudent to take out insurance to protect you against paying the other side’s costs if you lose, and this also covers the cost of medical reports, medical records etc. At present, this is recoverable from the other side. It is proposed that the other side’s costs should only be paid by the losing party in exceptional circumstances, that this insurance would therefore only be needed to cover the cost of medical reports etc, and that the premiums – which would in consequence be much lower – should be paid by the person making the claim rather than by the person against whom the claim is made. Again, this will not be retrospective, so existing clients will not be affected in any way.

3) The good news is that compensation for pain and suffering is likely to be increased by 10%, so the extra compensation can be put towards the contribution which would become payable towards legal costs if these changes are introduced (see (1) and (2) above).

4) A new system was introduced in 2010 to speed up road traffic claims by computerising the claims process. It is proposed to extend this to most other personal injury claims. It is too early to say whether the new system has worked for road traffic claims, though, yet alone whether it would work for other types of claim.

As mentioned above, all of these proposals have yet to be approved. Some may be dropped, and some may be modified. But none are likely to be retrospective, so should not affect existing claims in any shape or form. It is unlikely that the new rules will be introduced until about late 2012.

Existing or potentail clients should feel free to get in touch if they would like any further information about these changes. The bttom line, though, is that here at Girlings Personal Injury Claims we do not make any deductions from your damages for costs – you keep 100% of your compensation – and we will be doing all we can to try to keep it that way for future claims as well.