Personal Injury Claims are changing from April 1st and it’s no joke for those who have a right to compensation. The changes will affect how much compensation you receive.
Changes are coming through legislation that will have a major affect on the Personal Injury process and in particular the ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis that many of the general public know and understand. It can be argued that the main reason behind these changes is due to lobbying by insurance companies and allegations of a ‘claim culture’ growing in the UK, similar to that prevalent in America.
Despite this being proven not to be the case, legislation has been put in place that could discourage people injured through no fault of their own from pursuing their right to compensation.
The changes taking place are quite technical and difficult to explain. However, anyone who has already made a claim that is ongoing will not be affected. Anyone who thinks they may wish to make a claim would be recommended to do so before April 1st 2013.
The system up until now has been that solicitors costs, success fees and the client’s disbursements such as costs for medical reports or court fees, could be recovered from the other side were the claim had been successful which resulted in the client receiving 100% of their compensation under a ‘No win, no fee’ agreement.
From April 2013 the success fee paid to the solicitor under what is called a Conditional Fee Agreement, or ‘No win, No Fee’ agreement can no longer be recovered from the other side and the client will be required to pay the success fee out of any damages awarded to them, especially in more complex or unusual cases when liability is disputed.
Prior to the changes, it was also possible for the client to be covered by insurance against an unsuccessful claim (known as After the Event or ATE insurance). The premium for this was paid by the other side. From April, the client will be responsible for paying this premium which could be anything from a few hundred to several thousand pounds depending upon the type of claim. Even for successful claims, paying the premium at the end of the case could also take a significant chunk of any damages awarded.
There are also additional complex changes relating to the personal injury process that I won’t cover here other than to say that even a successful claimant may be required to pay towards the defendant costs, reducing the damages awarded, or even wiping them out altogether if they don’t have ATE Insurance.
Overall, the changes that are coming into place in April will not benefit anyone who is in a position to make a personal injury claim and those that are should consider setting things in motion before April 1st.