A proposed change in the law is due to be debated today and may have a serious impact on vulnerable road users. This includes a proposed increase in the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000, which could result in reduced access to legal advice for cyclists and other vulnerable road users.
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The changes are being proposed in conjunction with the Civil Liability Bill, a government-backed bill aimed to reduce the prevalence of fraudulent whiplash claims.
However, there are swathes of road users, including cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and horse riders who do not generally suffer whiplash injuries in road traffic accidents. The whole premise of the proposed bill is not applicable to these vulnerable road users and as such, we believe, should make a concession for them.
The increase of the small claims limit to £5,000 (which far exceeds inflation), means that any claim under this amount will not be entitled to recoup legal costs from the other party, meaning claimants will have to cover any legal costs themselves.
Legal advice is often essential in deciphering the inscrutable legalese and insurance language inherent to making a claim but can be prohibitively expensive.
This will likely reduce access to legal advice in the case of a dispute, and will particularly affect those on low incomes. If an accident results in lost income, and with potentially no recourse to a lawyer, low-income households may be forced into debt.
The Vulnerable Road Users Campaign is lobbying MPs to oppose the proposed changes. Whilst the Ministry of Justice has said that it is “considering the arguments on excluding vulnerable road users” and appears to at least be aware of the issues, we recommend you add your voice to protest the proposal.
The Vulnerable Road Users Campaign suggests that you contact your local MP asking them to oppose the changes, which you can do via the contact form on its site.