Government proposals that could leave cyclists with hefty legal bills when seeking compensation for injuries have been condemned by a solicitor specialising in representing cyclists. The blogger and solicitor, known as The Cycling Solicitor, has spoken of the proposals, which will see the upper limit for small personal injury claims in the small claims court raised from £1,000 to £5,000, as a victory for insurance companies rather than cyclists.
He is quoted to have said, “The proposal to reform the soft tissue injury process is another example of the government riding roughshod over the rights of injured people,”
They are proposing to pass some of the savings on to motorists (in the form of reduced insurance premiums) but no mind is given to the effect on pedestrians, children and cyclists who are likely to have compensation removed or reduced if they suffer soft tissue injuries.
They will be unable to rely on solicitors representing them where their injuries are worth less than £5,000 (which could be a nasty injury – such as a fractured collarbone) as many will have vacated the market.
Claimants will then be expected to bring cases themselves or via claims management companies who do not have the expertise to do so. This is likely to lead to significant access to justice issues for many injured people.”
The reforms, proposed by Justice Secretary Liz Truss last November were generally aimed at reducing the rising number of whiplash claims made by motorists involved in road traffic accidents. The reforms however, negated to take cyclists into consideration. The reforms would mean that cyclists claiming for less than £5000 would be unable to claim legal costs, instead forcing them to pay for their legal representation from any compensation awarded to them.
A government consultation on the proposed changes finished on January 6, with a responses expected within 12 weeks.