The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has published the government response to a consultation on reforming the soft tissue injury ("whiplash") claims process which, as the title suggests, focuses on problems arising from fraudulent claims following road traffic accidents (RTAs).
However, although the consultation was handled by the "Whiplash Policy Reform Team", and although the response document highlights mainly proposals to deal with exaggerated and fraudulent road accident claims, there are implications for those claiming for injuries other than those caused by RTAs.
As the response document (which can be found at http://bit.ly/2lMB2GL) notes, Question 13 (Should the small claims track limit be raised for all personal injury (PI) or limited to RTA cases only?) attracted a good deal of attention from trade unions.
"Trade unions were generally concerned that raising the limit for all PI claims would unfairly bring work-related claims into scope," the MoJ notes. "They argued these claims were generally more complex than RTA claims, due to causation and liability issues. This view was also supported by a number of claimant solicitors."
Despite these concerns, the Government has decided to go ahead with its proposal to increase the limit for non-RTA PI claims "in line with inflation" from £1000 to £2000.
According to the TUC, this will force many workers, including those on low incomes, to pay for legal advice when seeking compensation for injuries at work and the new rules will apply even when employer negligence is found to be the cause of workplace injuries.
TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady said: "People injured at work because of their employer's negligence shouldn't have to pay their own legal costs. This will stop many low-paid and vulnerable workers from bringing claims."