Whiplash Injury Reform – Hassam v Rabot.

In 2018 the government introduced new legislation, the Civil Liability Act 2018 (the CLA), which changed the way claimants are awarded damages for whiplash injuries. This legislation meant the Lord Chancellor was allowed to impose a set amount (often referred to as a tariff amount) of compensation that a claimant could recover, should they suffer a whiplash injury as a result of a Road Traffic Accident (RTA) (limited to two years of suffering from the injury).

Ultimately, this meant that whiplash injuries sustained as a result of an RTA were valued at a significantly lower rate when compared to awards for whiplash injuries which were as a result of any other incident.

The current tariffs for whiplash injuries, as set by the government can be found below:

Duration of injuryAmount (Whiplash only)Amount (whiplash and minor psychological injury)
More than 3 months, but not more than 6 months£495£520
More than 6 months, but not more than 9 months£840£895
More than 9 months, but not more than 12 months£1,320£1,390
More than 12 months, but not more than 15 months£2,040£2,125
More than 15 months, but not more than 18 months£3,005£3,100
More than 18 months, but not more than 24 months£4,125£4,345

The recent finding in Hassam v Rabot

On 26 March 2024, the Court of Appeal published its decision concerning two cases; Hassam v Rabot and Briggs v Laditan. The claimants in both cases suffered whiplash and other injuries from road traffic accidents.

This recent ruling means that a claimant who suffers a whiplash injury from a sporting accident is likely to attract ten times more compensation than a claimant who suffers an otherwise identical whiplash injury in a car accident.

The defendant’s argument in these cases was that a claimant could only focus on claiming for one main injury, leaving any other injuries suffered to be left in the background. This new ruling means that claimants now have the opportunity to have their non-whiplash injuries taken into further consideration whilst their compensation award is considered by the courts.

That seems unfair! What is the logic behind this?

It may seem completely unfair that the exact same injury can be compensated so differently, simply due to the way in which the accident happened, so what is the logic behind it all?

In 2021 whiplash reform came into place which meant that compensation awards were significantly reduced for RTA whiplash claims. This reform also meant that the opportunity for claimants to recover legal costs were abolished for most cases, meaning that the claimant would have to fund their own legal costs in order to bring a claim.

Whilst this reform may seem extremely unfair on individuals who - may have sustained injuries often through no fault of their own, the logic behind the whiplash reform was ultimately an attempt by the government to halt the number of whiplash claims, despite them having steadily reduced over recent years

The government’s stated aim when introducing these reforms was to reduce the number of claims being brought, reduce the cost of those claims which were brought, and ultimately to reduce car insurance premiums. Despite the number of claims having reduced, and the average costs per claim to insurers also having reduced, car insurance premiums have increased considerably since the reforms were introduced.

What do I do if I can’t afford legal representation?

Although it can seem that access to legal representation has been somewhat restricted due to the inability to claim your legal costs from the other side, there are still options that claimants can explore should you not wish to litigate yourself:

Self-funding- this could be a good option should you be happy to fund the legal costs of litigation yourself, however due to the cap on the amount that is recoverable for RTA whiplash claims, it is often, sadly the case that legal fees outweigh the compensation recoverable.

“No win no fee” agreements- these are also known as Conditional Fee Agreements and are often a popular option as they mean that if your case is not successful, then there are often no legal fees to pay (up to a specified limit). If your case is successful then the legal fees will be deducted from the compensation awarded, however the deduction would not exceed the pre-agreed upper limit percentage. A “success fee” will be also be applied for the firm bearing the risk.

If you have suffered a personal injury, you can contact our specialist team of personal injury lawyers for advice.

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