6,000 say no to whiplash compensation law changes that would stop injured cyclists recovering costsLaura Laker
January 9 2017
Almost 6 000 people have written to Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss to voice concerns over proposed changes to compensation rules that campaigners say would make it impossible for cyclists and pedestrians to recover their costs in the majority of injury cases.
In response to a Ministry of Justice (MoJ) consultation proposing to increase the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 in a bid to reduce exaggerated whiplash claims, Cycling UK, RoadPeace and Living Streets launched a Road Victims are Real Victims campaign highlighting the dramatic effect this will have on cycling injury compensation claims.
They say changes would affect 70 per cent of cyclist and pedestrian injuries – usually broken collarbones, wrists and ankles – forcing claimants to pay for their own medical reports, and legal help, and exposing unrepresented cyclists and pedestrians to unscrupulous insurers potentially looking to apportion blame for not wearing hi-vis or a helmet.
Cycling UK says the Ministry of Justice is “pandering to the insurance industry lobbyists” by reducing likely whiplash compensation claims, while “sending a message to motorised road users that vulnerable road users’ injuries are a trifling matter”.
The deadline for consultation responses was on Friday, by which time 5,986 people had written to Liz Truss via Cycling UK objecting to the proposals, and their effect on genuine claims by cyclists and pedestrians.
Cycling UK’s Duncan Dollimore told road.cc while the consultation appeared on the face of it to be about whiplash, the proposals could have serious, wider implications. He said: “The [MoJ] buried the implications for cycling and walking in the details of the consultation, then whenever anybody asks or questions about this they talk about whiplash, without regard to any of the other people who will be affected by it.”
Dollimore says victims seeking to avoid legal costs may end up not pursuing a case, or may choose to represent themselves, putting themselves at the mercy of the insurers’ sense of fair play. He says those who cannot afford legal representation risk being blamed for a collision, and denied compensation, where drivers’ insurers argue contributory negligence such as not wearing hi-vis, helmets or filtering through traffic, or riding too near or too far from the kerb.