Small or 'Low-Value' Personal Injury Claims - What you Need to Know
For accidents that occurred on or after 31 May 2021, the way personal injury claims are processed has changed. Some types of lower value road accident (RTA) claims will now be processed through the new Ministry of Justice (MOJ) Official Injury Claim portal.
The new regulations can be confusing, leaving some RTA claimants unsure about how to start a claim. We can help you work out:
- If you are affected by the new regulations.
- If you need to use the portal.
- How much you can claim.
- How to make a No Win, No Fee compensation claim.
Do I have a claim?
If you have been injured due to another road user’s negligence, you may be able to claim compensation.
To make a successful compensation claim, you must meet the following criteria:
- Another person must be legally responsible (liable) for your injury.
- Your injury must have happened within the last three years.
Medical evidence and other information will be needed to support your claim. The medical evidence will be used to calculate your injury compensation, and help determine how your claim should be processed.
What is a low-value (small) claim?
Until the regulations changed on 31 May 2021, the small claims limit was £1,000. In practice, this meant that only the most ‘trivial’ of injuries, such as minor cuts and short-living soft tissue injuries were ‘small claims’.
However, the small claims limit has now been raised to £5,000 for most injury claims resulting from car accidents. The compensation awards for injuries like whiplash have also been drastically lowered. The changes mean that many road accident claims that would have been Fast Track before June 2021 are now classed as Small Claims.
Road accident claims that are valued under £10,000 including both the injury compensation (general damages) and compensation for financial losses like lost earnings (special damages) will now also use the Small Claims process.
How are lower value injury claims processed?
Depending on the value and complexity of your claim, one of three processes, called ‘tracks’, will be used to handle your claim.
- Serious injury claims valued at over £25,000 use the Multi-Track process.
- Injury claims with complex issues, regardless of value, may use the Multi-Track.
- Injury claims valued at £25,000 or less use the Fast Track.
- Low-value claims use the Small Claims process, through the Official Injury Claim portal.
Why did the regulations change?
Despite the volume of road accident claims falling steadily since 2011, insurance companies pressured the Government for many years to introduce measures to reduce compensation and introduce additional restrictions on claiming.
Legislation was passed in order to lower the value of whiplash compensation, and to require lower value road accident claims to use the Small Claims courts rather than the Fast Track. This change meant defendants (insurers) no longer had to pay successful claimants’ legal costs.
Brexit and the COVID pandemic delayed the implementation of these changes by several years, but they have now come into force. The new Official Injury Claim portal has been developed to facilitate the small claims process.
We can still help with Small Claims
Many solicitors will not take on small claims. Some firms that do handle small claims will not offer No Win, No Fee.
Fortunately, we can still help with Small Claims. Together with our partners at National Accident Law, we offer a streamlined No Win, No Fee service for people whose injury qualifies as a ‘small claim’.
Will my compensation claim be affected by the regulation changes to low-value claims?
Whether your claim is affected by the changes will depend on:
- How your injury occurred
- What kind of injury you have suffered
- When your injury occurred
One of the most impactful changes is the new table of amounts for soft tissue injuries like whiplash. Compensation awards for these injuries have been lowered considerably.
A whiplash-only injury lasting less than three months is now worth £240, whereas before June 2021, an award for the same injury could have been over £2,000.
New 2021 Whiplash soft tissue injury amounts
|Duration||Pre-31 May||New amount||New amount with psychological harm*|
|Less than 3 months||£300 to £1,950||£240||£260|
|3 to 6 months||£1,950 to £3,470||£495||£520|
|6 to 9 months||£1,950 to £3,470||£840||£895|
|9 to 12 months||£1,950 to £3,470||£1,320||£1,390|
|12 to 15 months||£3,470 to £6,290||£2,040||£2,125|
|15 to 18 months||£3,470 to £6,290||£3,005||£3,100|
|18 to 24 months||£3,470 to £6,290||£4,215||£4,435|
*Additional compensation is awarded if the whiplash injury is accompanied by minor psychological issues caused by the same accident.
Under the new legislation, in ‘exceptional circumstances’, the court can award an uplift of an additional 20%. Exceptional circumstances are loosely defined to include cases where the injuries have had a particularly negative impact on the claimant’s life. A medical expert may need to sign off on the reasons for the uplift.
Other road accident claims
On 31st May 2021, the small claims limit for road accidents was raised from £1,000 to £5,000. Many short-term injury claims, including for minor fractures, lacerations and particularly whiplash and soft tissue injuries, will now use the Small Claims process.
Claims involving vulnerable road users are not affected by the recent changes. Vulnerable road users include:
Work accidents and accidents in a public place
When do the changes apply?
If your injury occurred before 31st May 2021, the old rules will still apply - your claim will probably use the Fast Track as set out above.
If your injury happened on or after 31st May 2021, many lower value road accidents will now use the online Small Claims profile.
If you have sustained multiple injuries, such as whiplash and also a wrist or ankle fracture, the total value of your claim will probably exceed the Small Claim limit. The process for multiple injury claims is more complex.
Even if your injury claim still falls below the £5,000 threshold (or the total value of the claim including financial losses falls below the £10,000 threshold) the help of a solicitor may be necessary to ensure you claim for the correct amount.
How much is my claim worth?
Calculating the value of your claim can be complex. The total will include compensation for both:
- ‘General damages’ for the specific injuries you have suffered, and
- ‘Special damages’ for any financial losses, such as lost earnings.
To get an idea of how much your claim is worth, use our Injury Compensation Calculator.
You should consider speaking to a solicitor about your claim, regardless of what you think the value of your claim could be.
Specialist legal advice and support will ensure that you claim for all the losses you are eligible to receive, that the correct medical evidence is gathered to support your claim, and that the claims process is completed correctly.
What happens if my claim is worth more than I think?
If you think your injury claim is worth less than £5,000, you can opt to use the Official Injury Claim portal.
You can use the portal without a solicitor, but you may discover during the process that your claim is worth more than the Small Claims limit. Your claim will become a Fast Track claim if:
- The value of the general damages for your injuries is over £5,000, or
- The total value of your claim including special damages is over £10,000.
The Fast Track claims process has not been designed for claimants to use without legal representation. If your claim becomes a Fast Track claim, and you don’t already have a solicitor handling your claim, you can instruct a solicitor to handle your claim.
How does the Official Injury Claim portal for small claims work?
The Official Injury Claims portal is an online service that went live at the same time as the changes to how lower-value road accident claims are handled. Many law firms do not take on small claims cases, partly because they cannot recover costs from the other side (the defendant), even if they win. The portal was set up to make it easier for people to claim compensation for low-value road accident claims.
You can start a claim using the online portal if:
- you are at least 18 years old
- your accident occurred on or after 31st May 2021
- your accident happened in England or Wales
- you were a driver or passenger inside a car, van or other road vehicle (not including cycles, motorcycles and mobility scooters)
- you were not responsible for the accident
Do I have to use the Official Injury Claim portal?
In most cases, the value of the claim is the factor that decides whether a claim should be processed through the Official Injury Claim portal.
You cannot opt out of the small claims process if you do meet the criteria, but you can use a solicitor to help you with every step of the process.
If you are unsure about the value of your claim, or if you meet the other criteria, we can help. To discuss your claim in more detail, call us on 0800 376 1001.
Do I need a solicitor to use the small claims portal?
The Official Injury Claim portal has been designed for both solicitors and unrepresented claimants (without a solicitor) to use. Claimants who plan to make a claim through the small claims portal can download a 64-page guide on how to use the official portal.
The Official Injury Claim has only recently launched and updates and bug fixes will likely be implemented over the coming weeks and months.
For a layperson, making a claim through the portal could become more complex under a range of situations, such as:
- You have suffered multiple injuries
- You have an existing health condition that was made worse by the accident
- You are assisting a vulnerable person with their claim
- You were partly responsible for the accident or for the seriousness of your injuries
- The defendant denies liability for the accident
Regardless of how complicated your claim could become, there are some solicitors, including our partners National Accident Law, who can help you claim compensation through the portal.
Can I make a No Win, No Fee claim through the small claims portal?
Yes. We work with expert personal injury solicitors, National Accident Law, who do offer a simplified No Win, No Fee service to help injured road users navigate the small claims process without the risk of incurring any legal fees if their claim is unsuccessful.
How can Quittance help?
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning injury claims.
If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.
Call us FREE 0800 376 1001 or arrange a callback:
if you can claim
to start a claim
Chris Salmon, Director
About the author
Chris Salmon is a co-founder and Director of Quittance Legal Services. Chris has played key roles in the shaping and scaling of a number of legal services brands and is a regular commentator in the legal press.