Personal Injury Reforms…

…The Hot Topic!

The government indicated this week that their planned reforms to personal injury claims may not fully come into effect until 2018, however, they have implied that it is “full steam ahead” with the changes which will see the “small claims” limit, for personal injury, increased from £1,000.00 to £5,000.00 and the total removal of damages for low value injury claims in smaller cases.   How many members of the ordinary public think that £5,000 is a “small” amount?   How long would it take a family of four to save £5,000?   How long would it take someone on minimum wage to save £5,000?


Of importance to legal professionals AND members of the public is the fact that the increase to the small claims limit does not need legislation to be passed – therefore this could be implemented much sooner than any of the other proposals.  The government also intend to remove the right to claim compensation for “whiplash”.   (The term “whiplash” has been hijacked by anti-claimant insurers and it is now being used as a backhanded offensive and insulting reference to what is a painful and disturbing injury to the neck.)   Anyone who has suffered will know that whiplash is a real and painful condition.   Instead of “whiplash” why don’t we call it what it is?   – A trauma injury to the neck, caused by the sudden acceleration and deceleration of the neck and head.


Despite what we are told by the government, via the media, car insurance prices are actually highly likely to rise for the third consecutive year – the changes to personal injury claims will not make a difference.  This year we saw an 8% increase to insurance prices!   (Compared to less than 1% in other insurance areas).


Car insurance companies blame high claims inflation and suggest that tougher lines on whiplash claims are needed because they “account for a quarter of insurance payouts”.  Insurers also claim to have not made a profit……*innocent face*.


The insurers say that premiums will reduce by £40.00 but this is not a legitimate guarantee and let’s be honest here, the insurers do not seem to have a good history with passing savings on to the public.  The only beneficiaries will be the banks and shareholders of insurance groups and the government who, arguably, receive “donations” from certain sectors of the financial world.


Those of you that have suffered with a trauma injury to the neck will know that it can spread to the shoulders, neck, back, sometimes to the arms and the chest. It can be extremely serious and painful.  Significant pain and discomfort can last a few days to several months.   The changes by the government will only affect victims of such trauma negatively and the wider members of the public will not see the so called benefits i.e. decrease in premium costs.


Further, raising the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 could rule out claims for things like a fractured clavicle or fractured ankle “where a full recovery takes place within about one to two years” (see the “Judicial Studies College Guidelines on Damages for Personal Injuries”) – they will not be valued at more than £5,000 yet those injured in this way will experience significant and often serious pain and discomfort, loss of earnings, medical costs, potentially for between 1 to 2 years!


This is because legal costs will not be recoverable and therefore, many solicitors and barristers will be unable to finance the representation.  The government claim that claimants suffering from “minor” injuries do not need legal representation anyway! 


This is yet another way of eroding legal rights in particular the right to legal representation.  However, it is being done in a not so obvious way, and the blame is being placed upon those who make a claim from the insurance pot because they have been injured through no fault of their own.


Isn’t the purpose of insurance to cover such things?  So, rather than sue one another for personal monies we obtain insurance which will cover us in the event of an accident?


The plans for reform are still in the consultation period and will be until January 2017.  It is highly likely that they will be passed, almost certain in fact, but maybe you could write to your local MP?


Along with that option, if you, or a member of your family or friends have been involved in an accident within the last 3 years get in touch with us now before it may be too late!


By Katie Parkinson,

Paralegal & Practice Manager,

West Lancashire Law.




Our first blog!


leeds-and-livNew Beginnings

Woah it is October already! Where has this year gone?

In May we began the process of setting up West Lancashire Law and we officially opened our doors on the 1st of June 2016. You may have read a little about us on Facebook or even been to visit our website and read the ‘about us’ section on there but I am going to use this time to tell you a little bit about us anyway!

I am Katie and I am, amongst many other job titles, the Practice Manager and Paralegal at West Lancashire Law. I attended Blackburn College from 2010 to 2013 as a mature (debatable) student and graduated with a 2:1 LLB Honours. That is the best thing I have ever done and I miss the law degree days! I then went on to study the Legal Practice Course at UCLAN while working at a solicitors firm. Unfortunately that role did not work out, one reason being due to travel. I was desperate to obtain a training contract by this point, as most law students are. I subsequently went on to work at two other solicitors firms but unfortunately a training contract was again out of reach. I gained valuable experience in these roles in the areas of family law, personal injury and some criminal law experience. But I was becoming increasingly disheartened with being unable to secure a training contract. The experience helped me secure a job with a very well known firm and I am proud to have worked at that firm, I gained invaluable experience there, however, my Dad and the now barrister and boss here at West Lancashire Law, was becoming disheartened with his current work life and was looking to start an exciting new venture.

My Dad, William, used to work in the coal mines. When they closed he had various jobs and struggled to find something he enjoyed, until he went to college to study for some qualifications. He started at Wigan tech, as it was then called, and completed some GCSE’s after having left school at 14 without any qualifications. He went on to study A Levels and a law degree eventually moving part-time to London to study law at the bar. He qualified in 1997.

At the start of 2016 my Dad had been thinking seriously about which way to go with his career and working life and what sort of new venture he could go on. I have to admit that although I was happy in my current role to some extent I too had been thinking along the same lines so that I could have a little more security in my career and I considered teacher training for a while. We discussed things, the idea of starting a direct access law practice …and the rest is history! No it really isn’t, courses had to be attended, qualifications gained, we had to get authorisation and find a property and finance but within around four months the dream was alive! We are lucky to have been able to follow that dream.

So why are we different then? West Lancashire Law offer a revolutionary new service that being direct access to a barrister without the need to instruct a solicitor first. We can save clients time and money whilst also offering a legal representative who has almost twenty years of experience in both litigation and court room advocacy.

We are a family run practice and we care about our community and our clients. Plus we see ourselves as local friendly lawyers that will listen carefully to our clients and take instructions professionally and compassionately. While some other law firms (*innocent face*) are fighting to be at the top of the game we see ourselves as the friendly local law firm working for people in our local communities in these difficult times of austerity and injustice. We are ethical & understanding lawyers.

We also try our best to offer various ways to pay including weekly or monthly payments if that helps and we always offer free consultations all in an attempt to help clients while keeping the costs as low as possible. We also do regular free legal help sessions at the local Citizens Advice Bureau and Evermoor Hub in Digmoor.

Now, as we approach our sixth month birthday, we decided to run a competition to celebrate. One lucky follower could win two tickets to the Empire cinema, Robin Park, Wigan to see a film of your choice along with vouchers for as much movie munch as you can eat and drink! To be in with a chance of winning all you need to do is;

  1. Like our page on Facebook,
  2. Share our blog/competition post on Facebook and #WestLancashireLaw and # the film you would choose and tell us why.

The winner will be chosen at random by number from the list of entrants and this will be evidenced by video! (The winner will be chosen on the 1st of November 2016 and I will contact them for details straight after).

Thank you for taking the time to read our very first blog! Head over to our website http://www.westlancashirelaw to read more about us and what we offer.

Good Luck!