The government’s plan to bring down the number of road traffic accident (RTA) claims made in the UK by introducing a ban on referral fees appears to have backfired as the number of claims were up by a quarter on statistics for the same period last year.
According to statistics collected by the RTA Portal Company, 17,000 more personal injury claims were opened in April 2013 than were made in April 2012. That means that in the month when the referral fee ban and other reforms came into force, the number of claims opened stood at 79,500.
As the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act loomed, there was a marked surge in the number of claims made with over 91,200 claims being made in March – a 25% increase on the number of claims made in February.
It should also be noted that the figures for claims made this April were very similar to this January’s figures and the numbers for last October and November as well.
A debate is currently going on between insurers and personal injury lawyers about the high number of whiplash claims in the UK and these recent findings will no doubt be of interest to those giving evidence in front of the House of Commons committee.
Despite the Jackson reforms, people were still making £1,200 claims before the end of April and it is quite possible that the reforms simply need time to settle in. In light of this, the true impact of LAPSO might not become clear until May’s figures are released.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers has warned that proposals to increase the limit of the small claims court could lead to the growth of claims management companies which use under-qualified staff and intrusive marketing campaigns to try and attract work. What RTA victims really need are specialist personal injury claims solicitors but unfortunately the ban on referral fees is set to make it difficult for such professionals to work.
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