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What is the small claims system?

There are various different types of Court across the UK, each covering the different types of civil dispute and criminal cases.

The small claims system is there to solve all kinds of minor disputes. One is the small claims track which covers personal injury accident claims where damages for pain and suffering total £1,000 or less. Typically, small claims are for injuries like cuts, bruises and short-term whiplash, for instance in a road traffic accident.

In such cases, claimants generally cannot recoup their legal costs from the other side's insurer which often makes it difficult to make a small claim for personal injury under the current system. Those making claims for more serious injuries valued above £1,000 are able to do so.

  • Personal injury claims are often made using a no win no fee agreement. If the claim is successful, the lawyer will typically charge for the work they have done and make a deduction from the compensation.
    For claims above £1,000, the other side's insurers will normally be required to make a contribution towards the legal costs. Legal protection insurance is often required to cover any risks arising from the claim, including the costs of disbursements such as medical report and court fees.  

What are damages?

There are two categories of damages (compensation) in a personal injury claim. 

  • General damages is the amount paid for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (that's the impact on your ability to do things).
  • Special damages cover any financial losses you may have experienced as a direct result of your injury. It includes things like lost earnings, paid-for treatment, care or travel expenses.

What are the small claims changes?

The rules for making a small personal injury claim following a road traffic accident changed on 31st May 2021. They are designed to reduce the number and cost of exaggerated or fraudulent claims plus reduce motor insurance premiums for drivers.

  • The small claims general damages limit will rise for road traffic accident injuries from £1,000 to £5,000. There are some exceptions for ‘vulnerable road users' such as cyclists, pedestrians, horse riders and children. For these and all other injury claim types, the general damages limit will remain at £1,000.

Sometimes special damages are involved too. They cover any financial losses such as lost earnings as a direct result of the injury.  

  • In 2021, the government will also introduce a self-service website (called an official injury claim) for road traffic accident small claims. People will be able to make a personal injury claim for damages of £5,000 or less without needing legal representation. 

This government-approved claims service will initially deal with road traffic accident claims only. All other small claims, such as injuries at work, in a public place or suffered through medical negligence, will be handled as they are currently.

  • Online claiming via the government website means that people must manage the process themselves without professional help.
  • If you are using the government website, it will be down to individuals to gather and submit the evidence and then negotiate with the other side's insurers.
  • There may be costs to pay during the claim such as Court fees if liability is not agreed. Under a no win no fee agreement, the small claims solicitor firm will fund these.
  • Whiplash and soft tissue injury will be redefined with much lower fixed levels for compensation in the small claims category.
  • The practice of minor whiplash claims being settled without medical evidence will be banned by regulators.
  • Vulnerable road users (called VRUs) are cyclists, motorcyclists, road-legal quad bike riders, pedestrians (including recreational walkers and runners) and horse riders. VRU's will be subject to certain exceptions from the changes, for example the small claims limit will not increase to £5000.

Call us on for a confidential chat to see if you're eligible to claim. If you are and want to proceed, we'll connect you with a specialist advisor. We can usually do this on the same call if that suits you. 


We have over 26 years of experience lending a helping hand to people injured in accidents that weren't their fault. We always seek to make claiming as straightforward as possible. 

We understand these legislative changes and what they mean for you when you make a small claim. Our expertise will help you when the rules change later this year - with the same excellent service that's built our reputation. 

Why has the government changing the small claims track personal injury limit?

The reason for the personal injury claims changes that lower soft tissue and whiplash compensation is to deter fraudulent claims in minor road traffic accidents. You can find out more about the amendments affecting the personal injury small claims on the UK Parliament website.


What does this mean for me if I make a small claim for an injury not my fault?

You'll still be able to use no win no fee solicitors. Small claims court case changes mean that:

The other side will not contribute to your legal fees. They will be deducted from your damages. 
The higher damages thresholds we mention above also mean this will occur in more cases, more of the time.

Compensation levels for soft tissue and whiplash injuries suffered in road traffic accidents will be much lower.

  • More serious injuries will fall into the small claims category, including some fractures, scarring and others that can take a long time to heal.
  • Smaller law firms will likely stop handling small claims altogether as they may find themselves unable to help customers efficiently at lower cost.
  • Larger legal services providers like us will be able to continue supporting small claims on no win no fee terms so there'll always be a helping hand available.
  • We understand the changes and are ready to give you the trusted no win no fee support you need.
  • Claims already underway when the changes came into force will complete under the existing rules. All claims started after May 30th 2021 will be subject to the new rules.
  • More serious injury claims that qualify for the Fast Track (intermediate injury) and Multi Track systems (severe injury) will continue as normal.

We're here to help with all types of personal injury claims - whatever the value, today and in the future.  To find out if you may be eligible, call us on or fill out our online form and we'll call you back at a time that suits you.


Did you know?

In the year 2019-2020, there were 829,252 personal injury claims registered with the Compensation Recovery Unit, the section of the Department for Work and Pensions that records all claims made in the UK. 

653,052 claims involved a road traffic accident, 79,027 for workplace injury, 72,587 for accidents in a public place and 15,845 for medical negligence.

Source: Compensation Recovery Unit, 2020

What are the new whiplash and soft tissue fixed compensation awards?

The new fixed levels of compensation for soft tissue and whiplash injuries caused in road traffic accidents are shown in the table below:

Whiplash \ soft tissue injury duration (months)Revised damages - whiplash onlyRevised damages - whiplash including mild psychological injury
Not more than 3 months£240£260
More than 3 months but not more than 6£495£520
More than 6 months but not more than 9£840£895
More than 9 months but not more than 12£1,320£1,390
More than 12 months but not more than 15£2,040£2,125
More than 15 months but not more than 18£3,005£3,100
More than 18 months but not more than 24£4,215£4,345

What other injury types have been re-classified as small claims?

The Judicial College is overseen by the Courts and Tribunals Service. It sets the guideline amounts for general damages awarded in all successful personal accident injury claims. These damages cover pain, suffering and loss of amenity - the everyday things your injury prevents you from doing. 

After the 2021 changes to personal injury claims come into force, some types of injury caused by road traffic accidents that would otherwise be classed as Fast Track claims, will be recategorised as small claims. We've listed a few examples below to give you an idea.

Type of injury reclassified as a small claimJudicial College Guidelines for compensation
Simple nose fracture£1,600 - £2,370
Simple cheekbone fracture£2,180 - £2,810
Partial loss of little finger£3,150 - £4,670
Minor hand injuryup to £4,461

Are there any exceptions to the proposed whiplash claims law change?

Yes, there are. They do not apply to the vulnerable road users we mentioned above. Certain exceptions also apply to child passengers who are legally classed as ‘protected parties'. Your small claims solicitor firm will explain everything to you.


Do you need a lawyer for claims made after to the government changes ?

You have the option to make a small claim without needing legal representation by a small claims solicitor firm. 

People will be able to do this using a new government-backed website. However, if you choose to make the claim using it, the changes to personal injury claims mean you'll need to build the claim yourself setting out your allegations as to why the other party is at fault. 

You would need to review medical evidence and collect proof of any financial losses you may have suffered. You'll then need to negotiate with the other side's insurance company yourself.

It sounds relatively straightforward - but only if:

  • The other side admits full liability for the accident that caused your injury.
  • The medical evidence is straightforward and there are no injuries other than whiplash.
  • Your injuries have completely healed so you can properly judge their impact on your life and their value in the claim.
  • Your accident circumstances were uncomplicated and clear.
  • Your evidence is strong and not open to doubt or question 

Should your small claim become complicated, there's a risk of delay, underpayment by the other side and a risk of losing if you don't get together the right evidence or misinterpret the law. 

This can happen if:

  • The other side disputes liability.
  • New evidence surfaces that challenges your version of events.
  • There are complications with expert medical evidence.

Doing it yourself depends on your confidence level and on key aspects of the claim being in your favour from the start. 

Our advice is always to seek professional help from a reputable personal injury firm like us when making any type of personal injury compensation claim. Things can get complicated quickly and expert help will help you secure the compensation you deserve. 

We can let you know if you're eligible to make a claim. If you decide to go ahead, the specialist small claims solicitor firm we connect you with will give you all the support you need.

We're ready for these changes. We understand them and what they mean for you when you make a small claim for personal injury. With us you're in safe hands - now and tomorrow.

To find out if you have grounds to make a claim, call us on or fill out our online form and we'll call you back at a time that suits you.


Craig Farmer

Meet Craig Farmer - he's one of our legally-trained advisor managers here at National Accident Helpline.

We think listening skills are really important, especially for helping advisors like Craig judge what category of claim you might have. If you're eligible and want to proceed, we connect you with a specialist small claims solicitor firm.

Craig Farmer

Operations Team Manager National Accident Helpline

Frequently asked questions...


These personal injury claims changes do not affect the existing time limits for making a claim. If you were over 18 when the accident happened, you have three years to make a claim. If you were under 18 when it happened, a parent guardian or other officially responsible adult can make that claim on your behalf as a ‘litigation friend' at any time up to your 18th birthday. When you reach 18, you then have three years until your 21st birthday to make the small claim yourself as a legal adult.

There may be exceptions to the time limits, for instance if the claimant lacks the mental or physical capacity to do it themselves. Your small claims solicitor firm will be able to explain the details if they affect you.

Only very limited costs can be recovered . Unlike with Fast Track (intermediate injury) or Multi Track personal injury claims (serious injury), the other side will not usually make any contribution to your legal costs.

This means your small claims solicitor firm will deduct your costs from your damages if your claim succeeds.. You will keep the majority of the compensation. If you claim doesn't succeed, you pay nothing.

Call us on for a confidential chat with one of our legally-trained advisors to find out more.

Yes, of course. We've over 26 years' experience helping people with all types of personal injury claims through every change successive governments have made to the legislation over the last few decades. This time is no different.

Contact us free on . We can connect you with a specialist small claims solicitor firm.

What is the new structure for compensation in road traffic accident claims?? 

The current structure for road traffic accident (RTA) personal injury claims is as follows:

Type of personal injury systemLimits and thresholds
Small Claims (minor injury)£1,000 total damages or less
Fast Track (intermediate injury)Over £1,000 up to and including £25,000 total damages
Multi Track (severe injury)Total damages of £25,000 or more

When implemented in May 2021, the new structure for road traffic accident injury claims will look like this:

Type of personal injury systemLimits and thresholds
Small Claims (minor injury)£5,000 total damages or less
Fast Track (intermediate injury)Over £5,000 up to and including £25,000 total damages
Multi Track (severe injury)Total damages of £25,000 or more

Exemptions: the small claims limit is £1000 for vulnerable road users (VRUs).


What is the structure for other personal injury claims? 

The current structure for accidents at work, in a public place or due to medical negligence is as follows:

Type of personal injury systemLimits and thresholds
Small Claims (lesser injury)£1,000 total damages or less
Fast Track (intermediate injury)Over £1,000 up to and including £25,000 total damages
Multi Track (severe injury)Total damages of £25,000 or more

How much compensation might a small claims solicitor firm be able to secure for me?

The amount of compensation your small claims solicitor firm secures for you in a successful claim depends on several things. They include the severity of your injury, the recovery time, the circumstances of the accident and if there are any financial losses to consider.

That means it's hard to give an accurate figure at the start before your small claims solicitor firm has investigated all the details. However, we have over 26 years' experience supporting personal injury claims so call us on for a confidential chat with one of friendly, legally-trained advisors, or to get a rough estimate of the amount you could receive, try our small claims compensation calculator below.


Compensation Calculator

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Compensation Calculator

We’ll calculate your compensation in a few minutes.

What does a small claims court lawyer cost?

Your small claims solicitor firm will investigate the details and decide whether it's a small claim for lesser injury. They'll make the claim using a no win no fee arrangement - also known as a conditional fee agreement. It's the contract between you and your small claims court solicitor firm. It means you're able to make a claim without any up-front costs without financial risk.

Your small claims solicitor firm will discuss the details with you at the start of the claim, so you'll know what to expect when your claim settles. If you don't win your no win no fee small claim, you pay nothing to anyone.


If you're thinking about making a small claim for injury that wasn't your fault, you might be worried that you'll be left out-of-pocket if your claim is unsuccessful, or that most of your compensation will be taken up by a small claims solicitor firms fees.

We have measures in place to protect you from no win no fee hidden costs so they are fixed and transparent.

We're here to help with all types of personal injury claims, regardless of their value. Speak to us for free, impartial advice today on or fill in our secure online form. We'll be happy to answer your questions and can help you understand whether you could make a claim.

If you'd like to find out more about all the different stages of what typically happens in a personal injury claim, please visit our claims process page.


Why choose National Accident Helpline for your small claim?

We're proud of our experience supporting personal injury claims of all types and values. Our advice is always completely confidential and there's no obligation to start a claim when you contact us. We have over 26 years' experience and we've built an excellent reputation because we're here to help everyone injured in an accident not their fault.

If you'd like to talk to a professional advisor about what's happened to you and if you may be eligible to make a personal injury claim, call us today on .


We're ready for the government amendments to small claims. We understand them and what they mean for you after suffering an injury that wasn't your fault. Whenever the law changes, you're always in safe hands with us - both now and in the future.

When you're looking for a personal injury company to help you make your claim, you might be worried about the credibility of the small claims solicitor you'll work with. With us, you're in safe hands.

We have our own law firm and also work with a national panel of personal injury solicitors who we carefully choose based on their skills. This means you'll always get the small claims solicitor you need for the best chance of making a successful claim.

As well as working on a no win no fee basis, our solicitors will also protect you from upfront costs and no win no fee hidden charges. Our no win no fee guarantee means you won't have to pay anything until your small claim settles successfully. 

To find out whether you could claim, or for advice and answers to your questions, contact us on to talk to one of our friendly, legally-trained advisors.



Why choose National Accident Helpline

Experienced - Serving the nation for over 26 years.
Accredited - Personal injury experts you can trust.
Trusted - Rated 'Excellent' on Trustpilot with more reviews than any other Helpline.
National - Every day, we help 100's of people across the UK who've been injured in accidents.

Is National Accident Helpline a claims management company?

No, we aren't. National Accident Helpline is an independent personal injury advice brand owned by legal practice National Accident Law

We are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the independent professional ethics and standards regulator that licences all solicitors across England and Wales. Our SRA registration number is 655606.

Claims management companies are overseen by a different regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). CMCs do not have their own law practices. We advise on personal injury claims as part of National Accident Law. We also work with a national network of specialist law firms who we choose carefully and check closely to make sure you receive an outstanding customer experience.