By Philip Pipkin, Underwriting Support Manager
(Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 43 seconds)
After a turbulent 2020, it is perhaps time to look to the future and hopefully a transition to a more optimistic 2021. Change has been continuous in recent months as we have navigated national and regional lockdowns; life in general has often been a challenge, impacting how we socialise and our working environments. That being said, a theme for the coming year I’d like to propose for personal injury lawyers and their ATE insurance providers is adaptability, mitigation and positivity.
One thing almost certainly going to happen this year is the whiplash reforms. When this come into place in May, the adaptability of law firms and their clients is going to be tested. We are a long way from what many saw as the ‘heyday of the personal injury claims market’ and, by now, all firms in this sector should have planned for this ‘new normal’.
- These much-delayed reforms, when implemented, will significantly change how lower value personal injury cases are litigated. Here’s one important question – might your clients end up under-compensated because they do not fully understand the long-term effects of their injuries?
- This situation could arise because clients will now not be able to seek advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer. Or, if a claimant does that, could this be seen as disproportionate – the government’s view being it’s ‘a hammer to crack a nut’ that simply isn’t needed.
- Clients are going to have to adapt to litigating their cases independently without expert assistance. Here at Temple, we entirely agree with the view of APIL and others that the consumer will not benefit from the whiplash reforms.
With the extraordinary delays caused by the pandemic this has impacted many areas of litigation. One example being court hearings switching to a virtual format – or not being heard at all in some cases.
- I can envisage that in 2021 mitigation through mediation will become a more popular choice for many law firms. The necessary but inevitable inconvenience of having to wait for clients with serious injuries will make the option of mediation even more attractive.
- Lawyers settling cases quicker must benefit all involved – Temple has championed mediation for a long time. To show our commitment we include mediation incentives in our ATE cover.
There is some light at the end of the tunnel, a positive aspect of the coming year is that we will all have the option to be vaccinated and, at the appropriate moment, the ability to meet up again.
- Whilst Zoom and Teams has proven invaluable, in particular for vulnerable or incapacitated clients, the resumption and additional reassurance for clients being able to meet their legal representative for a face-to-face discussion about their case will be welcomed.
- Similarly, for the providers of access to justice including law firms and ATE insurers – we look forward to starting to plan for major conferences we can attend in person.
In conclusion, we will continue our support through ongoing dialogue with our partner law firms. We are here to help you overcome the challenges in 2021 as they occur. If you have any questions or want to share your views, please email email@example.com or call 01483 514417
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