Small or low value injury compensation claims
Since 31 May 2021, the process for handling certain personal injury claims, particularly lower value road traffic accident (RTA) claims, has changed. These claims are now managed through the Ministry of Justice's Official Injury Claim Portal.
The new regulations can be confusing, leaving some road accident claimants in particular unsure about how to start a claim. In the following article we explain who is affected by the changes, whether you need to use the portal, and how much compensation can be claimed.
In this article
What is the small claims court?
The small claims court handles minor civil disputes, including small financial claims, typically up to £10,000. It differs from other courts in its simpler, more informal procedures, that enable individuals to represent themselves without a solicitor, thereby reducing legal costs and complexities. More substantial and complex claims handled by the higher courts usually require legal representation.
Changes to the small injury claims limits
The government reformed the process for making a small personal injury claim on 31st May 2021.
Prior to these changes, the small claims limit for personal injury was set at £1,000, meaning only less severe injuries, like minor cuts or short-lived soft tissue damage, were classified as small claims. For injuries occurring before this date, the previous limit still applies. However, following the change, the new small claims limits are as follows:
Road injury claims
The small claims limit has been raised to £5,000 for most injury claims resulting from car accidents.
Claims involving vulnerable road users are not affected by the changes. Vulnerable road users include:
Other types of injury claims
Why did the regulations change?
The government raised the small-claims track personal injury limit to streamline the legal process and reduce costs associated with minor injury claims, particularly in road traffic accidents.
By increasing the limit, the government intends to to discourage the pursuit of smaller, less serious claims through the courts, thereby reducing the burden on the legal system and insurance companies. The new limit is expected to encourage more straightforward and cost-effective handling of smaller claims, while still allowing individuals to seek compensation for more significant injuries through the traditional legal process.
Read more about the government reforms to small claims limits.
How are small claims processed?
Depending on the value and complexity of your claim, one of three processes, called ‘tracks’, will be followed:
- Claims worth less than the small claims limit follow the small-claims track and they are handled through the Ministry of Justice's Official Injury Claim Portal.
- Claims worth over the small claims limit, but under £25,000 follow the fast-track process.
- Serious injury claims worth over £25,000, or claims with complex issues regardless of value, follow the multi-track process.
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.
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.
Get an accurate compensation estimate (including for multiple injuries), confirm your legal position, and check if you have a No Win, No Fee claim.
Updated December 2023
Compensation Calculator v3.04
Whiplash and soft tissue injury claims
In addition to the new small-claims limits, the government has set out a revised lower tariff of compensation amounts for soft tissue injuries like whiplash. Compensation awards for these injuries have been lowered considerably.
For example, compensation for a whiplash-only injury lasting less than 3 months has been reduced from £2,000 to £240. The following table gives more detail:
Revised whiplash soft tissue injury compensation amounts
|Duration of injury||Amount 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’, courts can increase the above amounts by 20%. Exceptional circumstances are loosely defined to include cases where the injuries have had a particularly negative impact on a claimant’s life.
Multiple injury claims
If you sustained multiple injuries, calculating the correct amount of compensation is complicated, as compensation amounts are not simply added together.
Most combinations of even relatively minor injuries will exceed the small claims limit. But even if the value of your injury claim is below the £5,000 threshold (or £10,000 including special damages), you should still seek advice from a personal injury solicitor in the first instance, to ensure you are estimating the correct level of compensation.
We recommend that you start by using our injury compensation calculator which can calculate compensation for multiple injuries.
Find out what your claim is worth first
If you believe your claim is worth less than the small claims limit, you can start a claim through the Official Injury Claim portal independently, or with the help of a solicitor. If you subsequently discover that your claim is worth more than the small claims limit, your claim will become a fast-track claim and you will need a solicitor to represent you.
Conversely, if your case is first assessed by a solicitor and it's valued above the small claims limit, you can start a no win, no fee fast-track or multi-track claim with the solicitor if you want to. If your claim is valued below the small claims limit, you can still claim independently through the portal, or with the help of a solicitor.
Before you take any steps, we recommend that you find out what your claim may be worth first with our injury claim calculator. Alternatively, you can speak to a claims advisor on 0800 376 1001 and find out what your claim is worth.
Is there a benefit to using a solicitor to help with the small claims portal?
The Official Injury Claims portal was set up so that injured individuals can make a small claim without a solicitor. To make a claim yourself requires you to independently establish fault, review medical evidence, and prove any financial losses. The process can be relatively straightforward if the other party fully admits liability, your injuries are limited to whiplash and have completely healed, and the accident circumstances are clear and uncomplicated.
Complications can arise if liability is disputed, new evidence emerges, or the medical evidence is complex.
We recommend that you speak to a solicitor before you start a claim to review all of your options. A personal injury solicitor will set out your options and advise you on the best course of action, including making a claim yourself through the portal.
Can I make a no win, no fee claim through the small claims portal?
Yes. Making a claim with a solicitor on a no win, no fee basis is a possibility. We recommend that you speak to a claims advisor on 0800 376 1001 to find out if you can claim and discuss all of your options. if you have a claim.
The claims process also depends on where and how the accident happened. Click the icons below for more information:
How we can help you with your injury claim
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.
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If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee injury claim, we are open:
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Call us for FREE advice on 0800 376 1001, or arrange a call back from a friendly, legally-trained advisor:
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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.