Individuals have been ’badly let down by the government in favour of the insurance industry,’ says executive director
The Supreme Court has granted the ABI permission to appeal the Court of Appeal’s ruling over mixed injury claims on the Official Injury Claims (OIC) portal.
Claimant law firms told Insurance Times that the decision was “disappointing” and a verdict should go “in favour of the injured party”.
The Ministry of Justice’s OIC portal came online at the end of May 2021, allowing litigants-in-person (LiPs) to process their own whiplash injury claims following a road traffic accident.
While whiplash soft tissue injuries are aligned to specific compensation values via a tariff table, mixed injury claims comprising of whiplash and additional injuries are not.
In January 2023, the Court of Appeal ruled that personal injury claimants can recover damages for both whiplash and non-whiplash injuries without one cancelling out the other.
However, the ABI – on behalf of the insurance industry – appealed the judgment, fearing this would open the door to the “double counting of injuries” and, in turn, increase the level of awarded compensation.
Earlier this week (7 June 2023), the Supreme Court granted the ABI leave to appeal the mixed injuries issue.
’Badly let down’
Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) told Insurance Times that injured individuals had been “badly let down by the government in favour of the insurance industry”.
He stressed that the insurance industry “benefits hugely” if the level of compensation level for paying out non-fault victims reduces.
“It means, ultimately, that access to justice is reduced because injured people decide to live with their injuries and not make a claim,” he said.
“Tens of thousands of cases remain in limbo at the present time, so we urge the Supreme Court to hear the appeal with urgency.
“If the appeal is not heard quickly, hundreds of thousands of people suffering from mixed injuries may have to wait until as late as 2025 for clarity, which would be a full seven years after the Civil Liability Act was passed into law.”
Meanwhile, Andrew Wild, head of legal at First4InjuryClaims, said that while the firm respected the decision of the Supreme Court, “it is disappointing ”.
“It is hoped that the court rules in favour of the claimant and affirms the clear guidance that was provided by the Court of Appeal,” he added.
“A failure to do so will lead to a further unintended windfall for the insurers at the expense of the injured claimant who suffers multiple injuries following an accident”.
The Court of Appeal became involved in October 2022 as the insurance industry was unsure how to deal with increasing OIC portal submitted claims that included both whiplash and non-whiplash injuries, such as tinnitus or psychological harm.
Echoing Wild’s comments, Maxwell stressed that ASCO hoped the Supreme Court “rules in favour of the injured party”.
He felt an outcome that came to the conclusion that other injuries sustained are ”somehow less important or severe simply because there was a whiplash involved” would be “unfair, unwarranted and unreasonable”.