Supreme Court Clarifies Impact of Whiplash Injuries Reforms


The Supreme Court has ruled that reforms to the way compensation for whiplash injuries is calculated do not limit the compensation payable for non-whiplash injuries suffered in the same accident.

The Civil Liability Act 2018 and the Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021 made significant reductions to compensation available for whiplash injuries. The Regulations set out statutory tariffs payable for pain, suffering and loss of amenity in respect of whiplash injuries and minor psychological injuries, based on their duration. Two men who were injured in road traffic accidents brought claims for both whiplash and non-whiplash injuries, raising the question of whether damages for the latter were also subject to the tariffs or whether common-law damages were available.

The defendants argued that the tariffs set out in the Regulations should apply to non-whiplash injuries suffered in the same accident, unless these caused separate pain, suffering and loss of amenity. The Court observed that differentiating pain, suffering and loss of amenity in this way would make the preparation of medical reports in personal injury cases much more onerous. It also pointed out that this approach might lead to a claimant ending up with a lower award than if they had only claimed for their non-whiplash injuries.

The Court concluded that, in such cases, common-law damages would be available in respect of pain, suffering and loss of amenity for non-whiplash injuries, subject to a deduction where these overlap with the damages payable in respect of whiplash injuries.

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