Plans to reform the claims process used by cyclists seeking compensation for whiplash injuries will negatively impact road collision victims, says a new report by Cycling UK.
Following a recent review of the legislation, it was announced that cyclists and pedestrians requiring treatment costing less than £5,000 may be forced to pay significant legal and medical bills before being eligible to receive compensation.
Around 70 per cent of cyclist compensation claims are under the £5000 threshold, very few of which involve whiplash claims. Proposed reform plans will restrict access to justice for victims of road collisions, who may be forced to represent themselves or pay potentially prohibitive fees if insurers dispute liability or raise contributory negligence issues.
Cycling UK, which has in the past commented on the need for a review of the whiplash claims legislation, expressed serious concerns at the government’s “sledgehammer approach” outlined in the new whiplash claims consultation measures.
Senior road safety campaigner at Cycling UK Duncan Dollimore commented: “Unless the government’s proposals are better thought through, it will be genuine victims with real and evident injuries, who will suffer most – firstly due to other road users' negligence and secondly because the civil justice system fails them.
“Reforms that close the door to compensation for 70 per cent of injured cyclists represent a denial of justice. A cyclist or pedestrian hit by a negligent driver, with a potential £4000 claim, will have to weigh up whether they want to pay £800 or more for a medical report and fund their lawyer’s fees out of their own damages, or walk away without compensation.”
Mr Dollimore continued: “The government should consider the impact these reforms will have on vulnerable road user victims. These measures are being sold to motorists by the government as an attack on fraudulent claims and a means of reducing insurance premiums by £40 a year; motorists will not notice the difference because insurance premium tax is being raised at the same time.”