Civil Liability Bill: Whiplash damages and definition revealed
Legislators have outlined the tariffs that are likely to apply to whiplash injuries if a bill for fixed figures is passed. In a draft order of the Civil Liability Bill laid before parliament today, the total damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity payable for injuries lasting less than three months is restricted to £225. That figure rises to £450 for injuries up to six months, and to £765 where the injuries last nine months.
The maximum fixed tariff for a whiplash injury, applying where victims have suffered for up to 24 months, is £3,725.
The draft order states that a 20% uplift in damages may be awarded if the court is satisfied that there is a higher degree of pain, suffering or loss of amenity, or if the circumstances giving rise to the injury are exceptional. An increase may also be appropriate where a psychological injury has been suffered.
Damages can be awarded only where the victim can produce evidence of the injury provided in a fixed cost medical report from an accredited medical expert selected through the MedCo portal.
The House of Lords delegated powers and regulatory reform committee last month said that the legislation suffered from a lack of detail and in particular no definition of whiplash.
That omission appears to have rectified: the draft order defines ‘whiplash injury’ as a sprain, strain, tear or rupture of one or more of the muscles, tendons or ligaments in the neck or back. The effects may include, but are not limited to, pain in the neck, back, shoulders or arms, reduced mobility in the neck, back or shoulders, headaches, muscle spasms, or a swelling in the neck.
The bill goes to committee stage on Thursday.
Critics of the legislation said that the latest update does not address other issues raised by the delegated powers committee, notably that the power to set compensation is being handed to politicians rather than judges.
Simon Stanfield, chair of the Motor Accidents Solicitors Society, added: ‘Our hope is that peers will see this for what it is – a poor defence of the MoJ’s land grab of an independent judicial process.’