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The process of completing a fatal accident claim

When you have been affected by a fatal accident, making a claim is likely to be one of the last things on your mind. You will understandably be taking the necessary time to mourn your loved one as well as making arrangements in the wake of their unexpected death. However, it’s important to realise that taking the huge first steps towards receiving the compensation you’re owed can help ease the financial pressure on yourself.

As we will explain in this article, making a fatal accident claim doesn’t have to be a long and hassling process. Here is the process you will go through when completing a fatal accident claim…

Find the right solicitor for you

The first step you should undergo is to look around for a trusted firm who will represent you throughout the whole process of making a claim. You will want to find a team of experienced solicitors who specialise in cases such as your own. Many qualified firms operate on a No Win, No Fee basis which shows that winning your case is at the forefront of everything they do. Don’t make the decision that you can handle a claim on your own, particularly when the emotional stress can cloud your judgement and understanding.

Naturally you will have a lot of questions which this step is why is arguably the most important one you will face. You shouldn’t commit until you know what lies ahead. Any professional firm should be able to provide a free, no obligation consultation. Use this opportunity to clarify any questions or doubts you may have.

Appointing a firm to handle your case

Finding the courage and will to get to this position is a mark of your strength and belief in chasing what is right. By this point you should know if you are eligible to claim, what you can claim for and how much you can claim. Whether you are looking to claim for a bereavement award, a motorbike accident claim or another type of fatal claim, these are all points that should be answered during the initial consultation when searching for the right solicitors.

If a solicitor firm agrees to take on your case, then this is a sign that they believe you have a strong case to answer, especially if they work on a No Win, No Fee basis. This means that you won’t be liable to pay their solicitor fees unless your case wins in court.

A coroner may decide to hold an inquest

One of the first major developments that can occur during your fatal accident claim is when a coroner chooses to hold an inquest. An inquest is not always necessary but will happen if a post-mortem examination shows that a death has not been caused by natural causes. An inquest may also still be held in deaths by natural causes in certain situations such as if someone was under arrest or in prison at the time of their death.

During an inquest, the coroner will carry out an investigation and hear evidence to confirm the identity of the deceased and their cause of death. At the end of the inquest they will then deliver a verdict. However, it’s important to note that this does not disclose any individual or organization as having criminal or civil liability.

While the thought of hearing evidence at an inquest can be nerve-wracking, many of those affected typically feel that this is an important part of the grieving process and helps them come to terms with their loss. It is also a good chance to prepare yourself for future proceedings. Your solicitor can represent you at the inquest and will help ease your concerns during the process.

Taking your case to court

From the moment you choose your solicitor firm, they will look to build a case as strong as possible with your best interests at the forefront. This will come in the form of evidence you may find difficult to confront and tough questions you will be asked. The solicitors should make you feel at ease and answer any questions or concerns you may have. It’s important that you co-operate with them as much as possible in their conquest to gather the facts. You may be asked to supply evidence to help your case such as doctor notes, police complaints, salary slips, letters from an employer, photographs of injuries, witness statements and receipts showing expenses related to the accident and subsequent death.

Going to court can be a worrying scenario for everyone and even more so if you are asked to give evidence. Regardless of your involvement during the proceedings, this is where the solicitors earn their money. Not only should their priority be to present the strongest possible case against the defence, but it’s important that they keep you at ease and inform you of regular updates along the way.

If all is successful, the process for a fatal accident claim will hopefully conclude with you receiving the amount of compensation that you deserve.

Why you should get in contact with a personal injury lawyer

Personal injury law is very complicated, and if you have recently been involved in an accident, then you might need to seek the help of a professional. Many people who are seriously injured don’t do anything about it while their life isn’t affected, and they miss out on compensation. Here, we are going to talk you through some of the reasons why you should get in contact with a personal injury lawyer. Keep reading to find out more.

You were recently injured

One of the most important reasons why you should get in contact with a personal injury lawyer is the fact that you were recently injured. Injuries vary in severity, but you will find that if you have been injured in such a way that your daily life has been affected, then you might just have a case. People often talk about making a claim, but without a personal injury lawyer you won’t be able to establish whether this is possible or not.

The law is complicated

Although it can be tempting to handle things by yourself when you are seriously injured, you might find that you don’t handle things correctly and cause more problems for yourself. There are specific laws that surround personal injuries, and if you don’t claim compensation or put in a complaint within a certain period of time, you could find yourself unable to make a claim at all. Make sure to get in contact with a personal injury lawyer right away.

Lawyers specialise in this

You might already have a lawyer that handles all of your other matters, but do they specialise in personal injury law? Certain law firms like Atkins Hope have teams that can handle these matters in a short period of time and get you the help that you need. If you are looking for someone who is trained in these sort of cases, then make sure to get in contact with Blackheath solicitors who can get you the compensation you deserve.

The insurance company denied your claim

Have you recently been injured and have found that your insurance company haven’t been accommodating? Insurance companies can deny claims for a whole host of reasons and can often leave people like yourself feeling like there is no compensation possible. Of course, when you contact a personal injury lawyer, you can figure out why this happened in the first place and decide on what to do next with the help of your lawyer.

Get in contact now

If you are thinking about getting in contact with a personal injury lawyer over a recent accident, then you should make sure to do so as soon as possible. Without proper knowledge of the law surrounding this, you could be risking your claim and won’t get everything that you deserve. Get in contact with a solicitor that specialises in this sort of claim today to get your life back on track.

Alternative ways to manage a legal firm

Managing a law firm can be quite challenging especially when you don’t have help from experts in varied fields. Finding alternative ways of managing your law firms frees up time so that you can focus on core responsibilities. Aside from helping clients and the community, a law firm has sound management and administrative tasks that need to be addressed. Consider outsourcing legal marketing services from experts who will understand your vision and work with you to achieve it.

The importance of marketing and PR for a legal firm

Legal advertising is an integral part of running a law firm since it is a business that requires strategy and planning for it to thrive. Hiring professionals who understand the intricacies of legal ethics and your target audience ensures you move forward as one force. Choose a company that will serve your strategic and planning communications needs.

• Focus on your core business – practising law

As a small regional law firm, you need all hands on deck to ensure you achieve the goals you set for your business. A well-reputed service provider understands the industry and what needs to be done for your firm to stay ahead of your competitors. In running a law firm, remembering you are a lawyer firsts ensures you delegate the repetitive, mundane day to day activities so you can focus on practising law.

• Using a dedicated PR and marketing firm handle your day to day tasks

Dealing with your companies PR and promotion responsibilities can be quite time-consuming especially if you are not an expert in this field. The development of measurable promotion campaigns that you can integrate into your promotion plan is only possible when you get assistance from experts. Communicating mergers and acquisitions as you take strides towards expanding your law firm are made seamless and reasonable when you are working side to side with a professional legal marketing service provider.

• Implementing a strategic plan

You can use a strategic plan to influence the court of public opinion even as a small firm. Creation and execution of public relations plans need knowledge and skillsets that only an expert can have. With the right PR and promotion strategies, you can position yourself as a leader in a crowded marketplace. It would help if you had a company that advocates on your behalf to influence:

  • Leaders’ opinion
  • Media
  • Government officials
  • Civil leaders
  • Competitors and peers

In expert PR and promoting company will target decision-makers in the industry to ensure there is a referral relationship built for your firm’s benefit. When you garner qualified association membership, you can have a voice as a law firm in a crowded marketplace. PR helps you minimise the damage that arises from negative media coverage and other sources. With a strong PR and promotion plan in place, you are in a position to defend your firm’s hard-earned reputation. You can proactively safeguard your firm’s interests through media policies, crisis communication plans, as well as, social media policies.

Outsourcing support services

As a law firm, you need to spend time on money generating activities and leave the management tasks to professionals. Outsourcing PR and marketing services makes sense from a financial perspective as it is quite time-consuming. Trying to dabble lawyer responsibilities and marketing activities can hinder you from achieving success as a law firm. Aside from adapting time-saving routines, you need to outsource PR and marketing services to ensure you have control over your firm. Companies like Excello Libertas can help your business grow to include:

  • SEO specialists
  • Content marketing experts
  • Developers
  • Graphic designers
  • Brand consultants
  • Automation specialists

The value of outsourcing support services considering the unprecedented change in the legal profession cannot be underestimated.

Niche in-depth expertise and experience ensures that online lead generation activities give you the anticipated results. Experts with vast knowledge about how the legal industry works ensure excellent execution of your digital promotion campaigns. Speed and efficiency ensure that you are always steps ahead of your competitors. Recruiting an able team to offer PR and marketing services ensures that your law firm gets to where you want it to be.

Don’t forget to purchase professional indemnity insurance as a legal firm as this can save you from paying huge sums of money. Aside from legal digital marketing, PI insurance saves you money in cases where your firm has allegedly provided inadequate advice. As a law firm, you can easily fail due to professional negligence claims. Professional indemnity insurance protects the firm from bearing the full cost of these claims.

Conclusion

Having a disciplined PR and promotion strategy in place as a small law firm ensures you achieve success and grow as a business. Consider outsourcing support services so that you can focus on the core responsibilities. Hiring experts ensure you get anticipated results from PR and promotion strategies.

 

Gambling regulations in the UK and Sweden

The gambling industry generated a gross yield of 115 billion dollar back in 2016 – this figure has steadily increased, urging many national governments to take a closer look at operations within this industry. Many national governments today still own or operate a variety of gambling operations. In the European Union, legislations and laws vary from country to country with no blanket law being applied at EU-level. The only requirement is that countries conform to Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Hence, gambling is legal across member states although operators are often subject to gambling laws stipulated and enforced by national governments. Many countries, including the UK, have of recent re-evaluated their gambling laws and policies in an attempt to regulate taxation within the sector and foment responsible gambling amongst players.

Why regulate the market?

Having regulated online casino operators has several benefits. Players can play safely, knowing that they are using software and probability applications which are according to pre-set standards. Online casinos are duty-bound to be transparent and implement several processes to ensure players adhere to their rules. In this way, for example, the number of underage players at online casinos has significantly decreased (although the UK gambling commission still reports gambling amongst underage individuals).

Gambling laws in certain jurisdictions have also led to an uneven playing field between the State and a private operator. Restrictions also apply for residents of one country to play in an online casino that has its servers located in another. This is one of the reasons why European operators have so much trouble accessing the North American market.

Gambling laws in the UK

In the UK, gambling is regulated by the UK Gambling Commission of which functions where set up under Gambling Act 2005. This executive body is responsible for regulating arcades, betting, bingo, casinos and slot machines. This commission and recent changes to gambling laws brought the UK into the reality of modern gambling, with specific attention given to online casinos.

The Act’s three main objectives that fall with the remit of commercial gambling are:

  1. The prevention of gambling as an illicit activity used to facilitate and support criminal activity or encourage disorder
  2. Verifying that gambling is carried out in a fair manner
  3. Safeguarding minors and vulnerable persons from any suffering or exploitation which could arise from gambling

So who needs a license?

Providers of commercial and remote gambling services (such as online gambling) are required to have a licence if operating within or offering their services to individuals residing in Great Britain. There are exemptions for premises holding an alcohol license where certain games (eg. Poker) may be exempt from regulation but are still required to follow a code of practice which stipulates limitations with regards to the stakes and prizes.

Private gaming (defined as gambling within a place to which the public do not have access) is permitted by the commission. It is subdivided into domestic gaming and residential gaming. There are still complex legal guidelines which define where gambling activities can take place and any arrangements made; the commission recommends seeking legal advice before organising events which involve gambling.

Further UK legal resources for licensing and gaming.

What about players?

Whilst players who gamble online do not need a licence they must be over the legal age of 18. Online casinos, however, require a licence issued by the Gambling Commission in order to accept players residing in the UK.

There are some jurisdictions which have a special licensing exemption, such as countries in the European Economic Area, the EEA. Other countries which have such an exemption include some countries within the Commonwealth such as Antigua, Barbuda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

Gambling laws in Sweden

The Swedes have a long history of gambling, dating back to the Vikings. In fact, legend has it that in the 11th century, the Swedes settles a land dispute with Norway over a game of dice. In Sweden, the Swedish Gambling Authority is known as Lotteriinspektionen. This authority is tasked with “ensuring the safety, legality and reliability of the country’s gambling industry”[ https://www.lotteriinspektionen.se/en/].

Today Swedish gamblers only had access to four land-based casinos which belong to a single state owner operator known as SvenskaSpel. The national government created a monopoly to reduce illegal gambling and protect the customer. Private operators found a lot of obstacles to operating in the country and competing fairly with the state-owned, Svenska Spel. This spurred a mushrooming of online gambling companies offering online services to individuals living in Sweden but based in jurisdictions such as Malta and Gibraltar which facilitate setting up such businesses as well as significant corporate tax benefits.

Sweden’s new gambling law

In 2018, Sweden voted in a new gambling regulation which will come into effect on the 1st January 2019. The law was passed following pressure from several Swedish gambling operators and the EU, which saw Sweden’s monopolistic attitude went against the block’s philosophy of free trade.

Under the new law all online operators offering their services to people in Sweden will require a Swedish licence. find a full list of FAQs about laws and regulations for Swedish players.

In several ways, Sweden’s new gambling law is analogous to that of the UK. Online gambling will be open to players over the age of 18, whereas land-based casinos will only be accessible to over 21s. Players will be given easier options to bar themselves from gambling sites and promotional material. The law focuses primarily on improving game security, enhancing player protection and opening the country to more liberal competition practices.

Summing up the main points

  • Commercial Companies will be subject to 18% tax
  • Not-for-profit organisations are exempt from tax
  • License prices will vary from 400 000 – 700 000 SEK
  • Age limit of 18+ for online gambling and 21+ to enter a physical casino

The biggest challenge which this law will bring is the restriction of bonuses to just one welcome bonus. This means that operators will not be able to provide weekly bonuses, loyalty rewards and the host of bonuses and promotional offers they currently do. When the new law comes into force all players will be considered new, so operators will have the possibility to entice them with one last bonus. However, beyond the welcome package, operators will need to find new ways to keep players loyal and not lose them after the bonus.

With this new law six different licences will be available, based on the type of operation, such as a non-profit or a cruise ship. Licences also vary in cost and purpose, with some licences available to online casinos and others open to game creators.

References

Gambling Commission: Licensing, compliance and enforcement under the Gambling Act 2005: policy statement (PDF) [Accessed 4 Dec 2018]

GOV.UK: Gambling Commission [Accessed 4 Dec 2018]

Wikipedia: Gambling Commission [Accessed 4 Dec. 2018]

Statista: Casino industry – Statistics & Facts [Accessed 4 Dec 2018]

Lotteri Inspektionen (Swedish Gambling Authority) [Accessed 4 Dec 2018]

Gambling Commission: How we regulate the gambling industry [Accessed 4 Dec 2018]

European Commission: Online gambling in the EU – Growth [Accessed 4 Dec 2018]

Wikipedia: Svenska Spel [Accessed 4 Dec 2018]

European Casino Association: Sweden [Accessed 4 Dec 2018]

Gambling Commission: Young People and Gambling [Accessed 4 Dec 2018]

 

Legal father v. biological father: what are your rights?

Family structures can be seriously complex, and there aren’t always biological parents in the picture. In fact, some children may be closer to their non-biological parents than their biological, and may never have even met their biological fathers.

Family law gets a little complicated when it comes to defining the different rights of biological fathers and legal fathers, and it is important for each party to know exactly where they stand.

The basics

A legal father is someone that has parental responsibility of a child, either by adoption or if they are on the birth certificate.

A biological father however, is the blood-related father of a child, the person who impregnated the mother. They will be the person whose genes get inherited by the child. However, this doesn’t mean that they instantly gain parental responsibility.

How does a biological father get parental responsibility?

A child’s biological father is not automatically considered to be their legal father, and they may not automatically gain parental responsibility.

Biological fathers will gain responsibility only if:

  • They are married to the mother either at the time of the birth, or after.
  • If they are on the child’s birth certificate, if the registration took place post December 2003.
  • Both the mother and father have signed an agreement that gives the father parental responsibility

OR

However, more than two people may be able to get parental responsibility of a child at one time, which could be where it gets complicated.

What rights do fathers have?

Unless any of the above reasons apply, the biological father has no legal right towards the child. However, whether they have parental responsibility or not, they still have a duty to support the child financially, even if they have no access to their child.

Everyone with parental responsibility of a child will need to agree on things before they go ahead. The mother can make a decision of little importance, but for bigger changes, everyone that has parental responsibility will need to be consulted.

If they cannot agree on a decision or outcome, then a ‘specific issue order’ can be applied for in court.

Child custody – a father’s rights

Just because someone has parental responsibility of a child does not mean that they can contact the child whenever they want. Child access rights are a whole other issue altogether, but if an agreement can not be made by both parents, then they will need to apply for a ‘child arrangement order’ and it will go to court.

Gaining parental responsibility

If a biological father doesn’t have parental responsibility, then they will need to sign a responsibly agreement with the mother or take it one step further and apply for a court order to discuss it further.

If paternity is an issue, a lawyer can use DNA tests to establish who the biological father is. If you think you need to use a court to decide on your issue of paternity, then it would be best to speak to a professional family lawyer.

 

The most common road traffic offences

Criminal lawyers Glasgow see many things in the office, and one of the major things needing to be dealt with is based see injury or damage caused by road traffic offences. Many of us may even commit these offences without even realising it, and with this being true it can be useful to take the time to think about the kinds of offenses that are the most common – and we have put together a list for you.

Speeding

Perhaps unsurprisingly, right at the top of the most common traffic offences is speeding. Many motorists admit that they have been guilty of speeding at least once in the past, with half admitting to speeding on the motorway. While many may not think that speeding is an issue, around a quarter of all deaths on the road are caused by speeding, meaning that choosing to travel a few miles per hour over the limit could be much more dangerous than you might have thought.

Drink-driving

Although most people know how dangerous drink-driving can actually be, it is still a fact that more than 100,000 people in the UK alone fail a roadside breathalyser test each year. In addition to this, there are more than 3,000 incidents that are thought to be directly caused by drink-driving. It is always important to understand the limits when it comes to having a drink when you are going to take the wheel later in the day, because the risks, and the penalties, are severe. If you are found guilty of driving while under the influence of alcohol, you could be fined, banned from driving, or even given a prison sentence depending on the severity of your offence.

Using your phone while driving

Although almost everybody knows the risks of doing so, many people still choose to use their mobile phones while behind the wheel of a vehicle. More than half a million drivers are caught doing exactly this each year, however stricter penalties that have been put in place recently are expected to improve these numbers greatly.

Failing to put correct insurance in place

Thanks to the fact that it can end up costing so much money, this is one of the offences that is thought to be the most severe of all. This is shown in the penalties that you can receive if you are found guilty, which include 8 points, a £5,000 fine, or even a disqualification from driving for a certain amount of time. Research has shown that cost is a key reason to fail to organise insurance, with many drivers knowing that any fine they may have to pay if they are discovered would be less than the premium being quoted by their potential insurers.

Failing to stop after an accident

If you are in any kind of accident on the road, no matter how small, you have a legal duty to stop and exchange insurance details – or wait for the police to attend if there have been injuries. Despite this, many drivers choose not to wait, and this could incur 10 points and a £2,500 fine – or worse if the accident resulted in severe injury or death.

The majority of motoring offences can be avoided by using simple common sense. When you think about how quickly things can change when you are on the road, it is important to abide by all laws and guidelines, as this gives you the best possible chance of completing a safe journey. If you’re not sure about exactly what all of the laws of the road are, it may be a great idea to obtain an up to date copy of the highway code, to give you all of the information that you need.

What can I do if my PPI claim was rejected?

Applying for PPI claims can be a very stressful process which is only made worse if you receive a rejection. For those who are eligible but have been rejected in the past, there is thankfully a wide range of information online to help you build up the perfect case so you can join the millions of others that have been successful in their claims. Here, we’ve compiled some of that information and are going to look what you can do if your claim was rejected the first time around.

Banks rejecting PPI

In the early stages of the PPI misconduct claims, the banks began to reject claims of mis-sold PPI in order to avoid paying back the millions that were and still is owed. However, since the tightening on restrictions as well as new entitlement under the Plevin ruling, there have been fewer loopholes for banks to jump through. The Plevin case has helped millions of people to claim back the money that they were owed due to extortionate sums that were given to sales representatives as compensation. Due to this, banks have been legally required to put money aside to pay out for PPI compensation claims, as well as a dedicated team to handle all claims and ensure they are dealt with properly.

PPI claims

PPI is a topic that can be very confusing to many and can, therefore, prevent a lot of people knowing whether or not to take the time to make a claim. However, it is important to apply if you have even the slightest inkling that you may be eligible. Millions of people have been mis-sold this type of insurance. With millions of people already receiving the compensation from successful claims, you could be owed money too.

How do I claim?

When looking to claim PPI compensation for a second time, there are multiple ways that you can go about this. You can either decide to contact the banks directly with your claim or to use a claims company to help make the process of claiming as seamless as possible. Claiming for PPI compensation is easy and with an online service, you can have your claim submitted quickly for a fast answer to that nervewracking application.

How do I know if I was definitely mis-sold PPI?

One of the main ways that you can determine whether or not you have been mis-sold PPI and whether it’s worth submitting a second claim is to check back through any loans that you may have had and contact the relevant banks. This will come as a benefit to you as they will be able to determine whether or not you have indeed been mis-sold compensation. All the leading national banks have a team in place to ensure that the claims are dealt with as quickly as possible and that you get what you are entitled to.

Perseverance

It is important not to give up when putting in your PPI claim. Although it can be disheartening, it is important to stay persistent. If your claim is initially rejected, it is important to ensure that you gather the evidence that you require and place this in with your new claim. This will then help the lender to address the claim more thoroughly and come to a more informed decision. What’s more, thanks to the Plevin case, there is an extra layer of additional criteria to help with fair judgement of the claim and ensure that the correct amount of compensation is issued.

Why misdiagnosing diabetes 1 can be extremely serious

A lot of people go to the doctor feeling tired and having an increased thirst, but a lot of the time it is overlooked by the doctor, and diabetes tests aren’t run as frequently as they should be. Diagnosing Diabetes 1 too late may cause serious harm and you may have yourself a serious medical negligence case on your hands.

Although there are two types of diabetes, both are indications that there is too much glucose in the blood.  Here are the differences between the two diabetes:

Diabetes Type 1 – Only 1 in every 10 diabetics have diabetes type 1 which is where your body doesn’t produce insulin, and it is normally developed in childhood. A common perception of this type of diabetes is that it is a childhood illness, which is why doctors sometimes will assume an adult has diabetes 2 (less serious) instead.

Diabetes Type 2 – 96% of adults over 30 that develop diabetes have Type 2. This is where the body doesn’t respond to insulin as well as it should and those that develop it, need to adjust their lifestyle and diet and/or are given medication to help the body respond better to it. This type tends to develop in older patients, commonly to those that are overweight.

Getting the wrong diabetes diagnosis

As previously mentioned, Type 1 diabetes is perceived to be a childhood illness, and therefore, some adults that visit their GP can sometimes get wrongly diagnosed. Research by the University of Exeter discovered that this happens a lot of the time, and once diagnosed wrongly, it can take a year on average to correct the diagnosis.

Someone that this has happened to is Theresa May, the UK Prime-Minister. She was diagnosed with Type 2, although she in fact had Type 1.

Getting the diagnosis wrong can technically lead to serious fatalities. Once the body runs out of insulin, harmful ketones build up in the body and there is the risk of developing a condition called ketoacidosis. This needs to be treated promptly to avoid any serious fatalities. 1 in every 9 adults with Type 1 diabetes were admitted to hospital with ketoacidosis.

Can you relate to this?

If you or someone you know has been misdiagnosed with diabetes and therefore suffered as a result, you may have a medical negligence claim for compensation.

As previously mentioned, diabetes can be fatal when left untreated, and misdiagnoses that have led to a patient’s death may also mean that family can bring a claim.

Concerns over victims of cycling accidents with recent whiplash reform

Throughout the UK, roadways are more congested than ever, but not with motorists alone. Many adults are utilising the roadways to bike, either for pleasure or to commute to and from work, but the rise in the number of road users has created some concern in several arenas. The most pressing is the fact that accidents between motorists and other road users like cyclists and pedestrians are on the rise. A recent report highlights these statistics, citing a five per cent increase in the number of accidents resulting in serious injury among cyclists on UK roads. In 2016 alone, more than 100 cyclists died in an accident with a motorist, and another 3,300 reported serious injury after colliding with a vehicle. These stark numbers point to a real need for change; however, the government’s focus is on another issue surrounding the use of UK roads.

In 2017, the Civil Liability Bill proposed by lawmakers spelled out a grave need for reducing the number of fraudulent personal injury claims against motorists and their insurance companies. The focus of the bill is whiplash reform, as this soft tissue injury is often easy to fake and has been included in compensation claims at an increasing rate over the last several years. The initial roll-out for the bill set for October 2018 has now been pushed back to April 2020, giving many a reason to celebrate. While the whiplash reform programme has some positive aspects, many believe it unfairly includes vulnerable road users, including cyclists, into the mix.

Reform highlights

The Civil Liability Bill introduced in 2017 has several components, but the main focus is the need to reduce fraudulent whiplash claims relating to road traffic accidents. Whiplash often takes place after an individual has experienced a car accident, but the injury has been cited as an easy way to claim for compensation that may not truly be due to the accident victim. The proposed bill is meant to reduce the number of frivolous whiplash claims by fundamentally changing how compensation claims are processed.

Under the new reform, the biggest change in legislation revolves around the small claims court limit. Historically, the threshold for small claims court has been set at £1,000, meaning any claims above that amount were moved to civil court. The reform proposes an increase to the small claims court limit, up to £5,000, with the intent of decreasing the number of whiplash claims that can be brought with the help of legal representation. The proposed bill also requires medical evidence of whiplash after a road traffic accident, as well as a need to prove valuation of a claim for compensation. These tactics may indeed decrease the total number of whiplash claims, helping reduce fraud over time, but vulnerable road users including cyclists lose out in the deal.

Cycling accident victims and implications

Cyclists rarely experience whiplash after an incident with another road user, which a group of bike accident claims solicitors says is part of the reason the reform is not appropriate as it stands. Many cyclists involved in a road traffic accident have different injuries, ranging from broken wrists and ankles to broken collarbones and head injuries. Cyclists often see damage to their bike and clothing due to an accident, and they may have a loss of earnings while rehabilitating after an injury takes place. These issues are not explicitly addressed in the whiplash reform bill, nor is the reality that cyclists’ claims do not meet the new small claims court limits.

Under the proposed bill, cyclists stand to lose out the most because of these issues. The valuation of a claim in small claims court only includes the compensation for an injury. In 70% of cyclist accident claims, their injuries do not exceed £5,000 and so they may then be forced to go through the claims process without legal representation. If they do decide to use s solicitor to assist with their accident injury claim, their total compensation may be greatly reduced because they cannot recoup legal costs in small claims court. The reform blatantly overlooks these issues impacting cyclists and their ability to claim for compensation after an accident.

A nod to big insurance

While the whiplash reform programme is presented in a way which seems beneficial for road users, that is not the whole truth. Insurance companies and government leaders have been lobbying for a change in the personal injury landscape for years, citing a reduction in frivolous claims trickles down to savings for motorists. When insurance companies do not have to spend their money on settlement costs related to whiplash, they pass on the reduction in cost to drivers in the form of lower insurance premiums.

The reality is, however, that insurance expenses will not decrease as a result of whiplash reform, but instead, motorists will see little change. At the same time, vulnerable road users are left to fend for themselves in small claims court under the new programme. With the delay in implementing the reform, many have decided to speak out against it in the hopes that cyclists and other non-motorists on the road will have some protection, not penalisation, under the bill.

Image: Cycling Oxford cc by Tejvan Pettinger on Flickr