30 March 2022

Increase in small claims limit for personal injury

The small claims limit sets the minimum amount a claim for compensation must be worth to be able to recover your legal fees in a personal injury claim. If a claim is below that limit, the claim would fall within the small claims track and you cannot recover your legal fees from the ’at fault’ party.

What is the new small claims limit and what does this cover?

As discussed in my earlier blog, the small claims limit for whiplash type injuries suffered in a road traffic accident was increased from £1,000 to £5,000 on 31st May 2021. On the 6th April 2022, the small claims limit for all other types of personal injury claims will increase from £1,000 to £1,500. This will apply to all accidents that occur after that date but will not apply to accidents that occurred before that date.

This includes all accidents at work, any trips or slips, any injuries caused by defective products etc. In fact, it covers every type of personal injury claim other than whiplash claims.

What are general damages in personal injury claims?

The small claims limit is based on the value of what is known as ’general damages’, known as ’pain, suffering and loss of amenity’ (PSLA). It is compensation awarded to a victim for the injuries and distress they have suffered. The practical impact of this change is that your claim for general damages now must be worth more than £1,500 in order to recover your legal fees when bringing a personal injury claim.

What does the increase to the small claims limit mean practically?

Thankfully this is likely to have little impact on the majority of claims as the increase is fairly small. Originally the government had consulted on increasing the limit by a greater amount which would have had a more significant impact, but ultimately settled on an increase of £500.

Of course, every type of injury has a different value and it very much depends on the impact of the symptoms on the individual, the duration of the symptoms and the restrictions it causes them.

Taking a broad-brush approach however the impact of the increase is that if you’ve suffered an accident or injury and symptoms resolve within 3-4 weeks, your claim now may fall into the small claims track. Where symptoms last longer than that, it is likely general damages would exceed the small claims limit and as such you would still be able to recover most legal fees from the ’at fault’ party.

Talk to our personal injury solicitors

If you require any further information regarding these reforms, or for any other personal injury queries please contact Nick Shaw.

You can also contact our personal injury department for queries using our freephone accident claims helpline on 0800 183 8483.

Nick Shaw, Wilkin Chapman LLP
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