The Justice Minister, Lord Keen of Elie, recently said that litigants-in-person will be capable of handling claims worth over £1,000. But will litigants-in-person understand the complex issues with these cases and what will they miss out on without a legal professional by their side?
Small Claims are currently any claim for personal injury valued less than £1,000 and clients using the Small Claims Court have to do so by themselves as a ‘litigant-in-person’. There are now plans in place to raise this threshold to £5,000 in Road Traffic Accident claims and £2,000 in other cases. So how can all this affect a victim of Personal Injury?
Firstly, claims valued less than £1,000 are generally very simple in terms of injuries (such as a sprain to your wrist or ankle that lasts for 4 weeks), whereas claims worth up to £5,000 can be medically complex. In these circumstances, the involvement of an experienced legal professional is needed to provide advice on the appropriate value of a claim before accepting or making an offer to settle it.
Secondly, an independent medical expert will need to prepare a medical report in all personal injury claims. For injuries valued up to £5,000 it can be just as complicated to find and instruct the correct expert as it is in cases of higher value. This has been raised by the Law Society President who said “It is far from straightforward for a lay person to get the appropriate medical evidence to support a claim.” Again, an experienced legal advisor will know what expert is required and where to find them.
Lord Keen has tried to address these concerns by stating the parties and/or the judge can remove complex cases from the Small Claims Court so that a legal professional can become involved. The issue here is that Defendants may put pressure on litigants-in-person to accept an offer before they have had the opportunity to seek legal advice. This could lead to claims being under-settled if the litigant-in-person does not fully understand what their claim is worth.
Above all, what Lord Keen has failed to recognise is the strain that bringing a claim can have on clients. This is especially the case if the Defendant denies that they are to blame for the accident, which can make extensive investigations necessary to prove they are at fault. The main benefit of obtaining legal representation is to remove the stress of claiming from you so that you can focus on your recovery and getting your life back on track.
Here at Jordans we tenaciously fight for our clients to ensure that they are awarded the compensation they deserve and we will be by your side every step of the way. If you have suffered an injury that was someone else’s fault then call 01924457171 to speak to one of our Personal Injury specialist today.