Cheating victims - a sledgehammer to cyclists' compensation
Baldric's cunning plan to please the insurers
Pandering to the insurance industry lobbyists, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has dreamt up a cunning plan to reduce whiplash compensation claims by car occupants. "I know", said Baldric, "we'll stop those pesky pedestrians and cyclists claiming compensation for fractures after car drivers hit them, that's bound to solve the whiplash problem."
The MoJ, perhaps more aptly described as the Ministry of Injustice, has launched a consultation supposedly on reforms to whiplash claims. As Cycling UK reported last week, these reforms hit hardest the pockets of people riding bikes or walking when injured.The very road users who, ironically, rarely if ever suffer or claim compensation for whiplash! That's why we've launched our action "Road victims are real victims" today and need you to sign up at www.cyclinguk.org/roadvictimsarerealvictims!
Misdirected cuts by the misguided Ministry
The Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss wants to increase the small claims limit for personal injury compensation claims from £1000 to £5000. That would prevent anyone recovering their legal and other costs, such as medical reports, for claims falling below the £5000 threshold. Cycling UK has identified that this would affect 70% of cyclists' compensation claims, which typically include claims for broken collarbones, wrists and ankles.
If you're knocked off whilst riding your bike or crossing the road, never fear, if it's not your fault you can still claim compensation. Just be prepared to pay all of your costs from anything you recover, or run your case without legal help. That should be easy enough, unless of course the driver's insurers dispute liability, suggest you were at fault for filtering through the traffic, or plead that you couldn't be seen - where was your Hi-Viz?
The truth is that compensation claims for moderate but non-life-changing injuries to cyclists and pedestrians are seldom simple and straightforward. The claimant might be a child or elderly person who needs legal help to present their claim. Young, old or in-between, they deserve full compensation, not Truss Justice, where they might recover £4000 and pay out £3500 in costs.
A fivefold increase in the small claims limit amounts to a real term cut in compensation for vulnerable road users, and selling this as a measure to reign in excess whiplash claims a smoke and mirrors exercise for a cheap whiplash headline. Victims of road crashes are real victims. Cheating them of full compensation, whilst insinuating that the reforms are designed to tackle fraudulent claims, is at best cynically misleading.
The price of everything and the value of nothing
This change doesn't target whiplash claims or claimants: it impacts most on those who end up in casualty with broken limbs due to the negligence of others. A reform which denies them justice, and sends a message to motorised road users that vulnerable road users' injuries are a trifling matter, would only be conceived by a Government that failed to fully appreciate the rights of victims: one that knew the price of everything and the value of nothing.
That is why Cycling UK has joined up with partners RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims, and Living Streets, the national charity for everyday walking. All three charities are asking the Justice Secretary to show that she values victims more than she fears the voice of the insurance industry, and drop this proposal. As the cyclists' champion, we're doing this on behalf of everyone, whether they're members of Cycling UK or not. We can't stand back and do nothing - to do so would be to fail in our mission to help everyone cycle everywhere.
Sledgehammer to crack a nut
The consultation runs until 6 January 2017. Cycling UK and our partners will be responding to demand a halt to a change which robs road crash victims of fair compensation. We need you to tell the Justice Secretary not to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut by quintupling the small claims limit, just because her department has failed to work out a sensible way to deal with whiplash claims.
Cycling is a fun, healthy and safe activity with huge personal and societal benefits. When something goes wrong however, and someone riding a bike is injured, they shouldn't be prevented from pursuing a claim for rightfully due compensation because the costs would eat up the damages. That is why we have set up a Road Victims are Real Victims campaign page, and on online action you can use to send an editable email to the MOJ outlining your opposition to the compensation cuts.
Say no to Truss Justice
We really need your help to send a message to the MOJ. Click here to email the MOJ, and say no to Truss Justice.