First4Lawyers has launched a campaign urging members of the public to tell their MPs that the government’s plans to reform personal injury claims are wrong to prioritise repairing cars over people.
The marketing collective for personal injury and clinical negligence law firms has produced an animation that is intended to illustrate how an ordinary person will suffer and be left to fend for themselves against insurance companies.
The animation tells the tale of Jane, who suffers painful injuries as a result of an accident caused by a ‘boy racer’ but is left exposed by the government’s reforms.
The divisive Civil Liability Bill prompted the First4Lawyers campaign, which will utilise the intentionally emotive hashtag #RepairTheRightBody.
Using the hashtag, the First4Lawyers campaign will target MPs directly on Twitter, and members of the public will be encouraged to go to the First4Lawyers campaign page, learn more about what is happening, and contact their MP to protest.
Under the Civil Liability Bill, whiplash damages will be capped, meaning that the compensation paid to someone who suffers neck and back injuries for up to three months, inhibiting their everyday activities, will fall to just £235, according to First4Lawyers. At present, the average award, recognising the pain and inconvenience of such an injury, is £1,750.
‘Special damages’, such as the cost of repairing the damaged car, are not capped under the Civil Liability Bill, First4Lawyers said.
Changes to the Civil Procedure Rules, outside of the Civil Liability Bill but sold by the government as part of the package of whiplash reforms, will classify all road traffic accident (RTA) claims below £5,000 as ‘small claims’, meaning that they can be pursued through the small claims court, where costs cannot be recovered.
“Most injured people will have to pursue their cases without legal help, even though they will be up against lawyers instructed by the other side’s insurer,” First4Lawyers said.
This follows Lord Keen’s speech at the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers conference earlier this month, in which the advocate general for Scotland and Ministry of Justice spokesperson for the House of Lords said RTA claims “are not so complicated as to always require legal representation—particularly in the case of whiplash claims where the introduction of the tariff will now provide certainty as to the value of the claim”.
First4Lawyers managing director Qamar Anwar commented: “Our campaign highlights the government’s skewed priorities—there is no problem in spending what is needed to get a car back on the road, but apparently those who suffer up to two years of pain and suffering should not receive the compensation that independent judges now consider they deserve.”
“Let nobody be fooled that insurance premiums will go down as a result. The simple fact is that the only winner here is the insurance industry. We call on MPs and the government to make sure that they repair the right body.”