The introduction of the Official Injury Claims (OIC) portal in May 2021 marked a significant shift in how whiplash injury claims following road traffic accidents are processed. Hailed as a measure to streamline the claims process and reduce fraudulent cases, the OIC has, however, led to an unexpected and alarming outcome.

The intention behind the OIC portal was straightforward: to simplify the claims process for litigants-in-person (LiPs) dealing with whiplash injury claims. However, data from the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has painted a starkly different picture of the post-reform landscape. Despite traffic volumes rising 3% above pre-pandemic levels, a key indicator for the likelihood of road casualties, motor injury claims have plummeted to 45% below what they once were.

The Justice Gap Emerges:

APIL President Jonathan Scarsbrook has pointed out that before the OIC’s introduction, the number of claims closely mirrored the number of injuries. The significant drop in claims in the face of increasing road casualties indicates that victims are not seeking or receiving the justice they deserve. The “justice gap” is not just a phrase but a tangible divide where real people with genuine injuries are finding themselves stranded.

A Dual Hit for Victims:

The financial repercussions of the OIC reforms cannot be overlooked. While the government and the insurance industry promised reduced premium prices as a justification for the reform, the opposite has occurred. The total cost of injury claims settled by motor insurers may have decreased by more than a fifth since the OIC came into play, but the price of motor insurance has alarmingly soared by 41%.

For whiplash victims, not only have their compensations been curtailed to “arbitrary amounts,” but they also continue to grapple with high car insurance premiums. In essence, they are being “stung twice”—once by the negligence that caused their injuries and again by a system that seems to have forsaken them.

Who is Accountable?

This APIL’s analysis and research underscore the urgent need for accountability. The upcoming Treasury report on the benefits of the reforms to consumers is highly anticipated. There is hope that it will shed light on these issues and hold insurers accountable. Yet, as the legal community and injured parties await these developments, thousands of individuals with legitimate injuries continue to fall through the widening cracks of this justice gap.

It’s time for policymakers, legal professionals, and insurers to revisit the drawing board, ensuring that reform efforts align with the everyday realities of those they affect the most. Let’s work together to bridge the justice gap and ensure that every individual’s right to redress is upheld.

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