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Whiplash claims – fact over fiction

Compensation claims and the so called compensation culture are back in the news again, but the facts are often obscured by catchy headlines and I am left wondering who is actually driving this particular vehicle; take the following 'fictions' reported recently:-

  • People making fraudulent whiplash claims are driving up car insurance premiums; this implies that most people who claim compensation after an accident are fraudulent and is insulting to those people who are genuinely injured; if a car drives into the back of you at speed, or if you are involved in a head on collision, the combined force of the impact of say, 40mph, is huge and does cause a severe strain on the neck and back area. Further, car insurance premiums for most people have in fact gone down over the last year, so whilst the insurance industry may still be allowing fraudulent claims to go through, these claims cannot be blamed for increase which no longer exists.
  • That setting up an independent panel of medical experts will drive out fraudulent claims - this is not necessary; firstly, if insurance companies immediately stopped their current practice of offering £1000 to anyone reporting neck pain after an accident, without any medical confirmation, this would go a long way to driving out fraudulent claims; secondly, if a claimant instructs a solicitor and a claim is made with legal advice then that solicitor will send the claimant to an independent doctor to obtain an independent report anyway, as part of the claim - no need for a special panel - an informal one already exists; I would never advise anyone to settle a claim, nor would I expect an insurance company to pay out, without a medical report verifying the reported injuries.
  • That legal costs are contributing to the rise in premiums. Again, not any more; since April 2010, there has been a scheme of fixed fees, created by the insurance industry and passed by the Government, which has kept legal costs to a bare minimum and is not related to the amount of compensation and therefore there is no hidden reason for a solicitor to obtain a better settlement for a client, other than simply just wanting to do a good job and obtain best outcome for the client.

My advice to anyone genuinely injured in a road accident - whether car driver, pedestrian, cyclist etc is to go & see an independent solicitor who specialises in accident claims; most offer a free initial consultation; you can then discuss your own circumstances, the procedure for making a claim and what a reasonable level of compensation might be; don't be put off by the headlines about spurious claims - if you have been injured through someone else's fault, you are entitled to be compensated for that.

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