MPs are being asked to sign a Parliamentary Motion calling on the government to remove Vulnerable Road Users (VRU) from the measures set out in proposed reforms to legislation designed to wipe out fraudulent whiplash claims.
The reforms, currently going through the House of Lords raise the small claims limit for legal assistance from £1000 to £5000 meaning that almost all whiplash claims will become ineligible for free legal advice. Unfortunately, many accidents and claims involving motorcycles (and cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders, who make up the other categories known as VRU) also come into this £5000 category meaning that many riders will be denied access to legal advice and will find themselves up against a highly-qualified insurance company lawyer armed only with a handful of printouts from Google.
When you take someone to court and win the losing partner has to pay fees. Small claims legislation aims to simplify the claiming process with a clause meaning winning parties cannot claim legal fees from the loser. In practice this means small claims are made with neither side usually taking legal representation.
The new legislation raises that small claims limit from the previous ceiling of £1000 to £5000. So, Under the new rules a solicitor is unlikely to take on a case where the payout will be £5000 or less because even if they win they will no longer be able to recover their costs from the losing party.
Legal protection insurance won’t cover this either because this policy is there to cover your legal costs should you go to court and lose, not when you win because historically, those costs were paid by the losing side.
The Parliamentary Motion, tabled by Catherine West, Labour MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, argues that pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horseriders should not be swept up by measures that are designed to curb whiplash claims. “I want to see ministers apply common sense,” said Catherine. Cyclists and other VRUs, including children, should be protected on our roads, not punished by the government if they are unfortunate enough to have a non-fault accident. I hope MPs on all sides will show their support and sign the Motion.”
Access to Justice (A2J) spokesperson Andrew Twambley has also said: “We never see VRUs claiming for whiplash because they never sustain these types of injuries in accidents on our roads. Neither is there any evidence that these groups submit fraudulent or frivolous claims, so it is baffling that ministers want to penalise them.”
The Bill is due to get its second reading in the House of Lords on April 24th, so there isn’t much time to act. Click the link below to view a letter that can be filled in, printed out and sent to your local MP. Get your cycling, walking and horse-riding mates to do the same and get them into parliament before 24th April and we might just be able to make the government see sense.
To download and save your letter to fill out and send to your local MP, click here.