Claimant lawyers have called for ‘sanity’ in the national whiplash debate after government figures showed that claims dropped by 4% in the last year.
And an independent survey, commissioned by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), also found that almost 40% of people who have suffered a whiplash injury have never claimed compensation for it.Nobis Jackets
The new information “injects some sanity into a national debate characterised by overblown and inaccurate rhetoric”, said APIL president Karl Tonks, who yesterday gave evidence to the transport select committee.
According the Compensation Recovery Unit statistics, there were 547,405 whiplash claims in 2011/12, compared to 571,111 in 2010/11.
“The government appears to have been persuaded by the insurance industry that the answer to rising car insurance premiums lies in ‘tackling’ whiplash claims, but the government’s own figures show there has been a drop in these claims in the last year,” he said.
“Before the government embarks on a potentially damaging reform agenda, it’s critical that ministers have a clear picture about whiplash, and that they recognise that most injured people are genuine and therefore have every right to expect proper access to justice when they need it.”
The survey of 4,000 people undertaken by Canadean Consumer Research via its online omnibus panel found that one in 100 of them (40) suffered a whiplash injury in the past year; of those who did, eight suffered symptoms for more than a year. Almost all were diagnosed by a medical professional and almost 30% of them were encouraged to claim compensation by insurance companies.
“Instead of pointing the finger at everyone else, insurers really need to stop and look in the mirror,” said Mr Tonks. “They need to stop paying compensation without even asking for a medical report. And they need to start sharing the information they hold about fraudsters to help claimant lawyers identify them early in the process.
“Of course there will always be people who try to cheat the system. That’s obviously wrong, and we need a universal commitment to working to reduce fraud in whiplash cases. That’s why we have produced a ten-point plan which could do just that and which we hope to discuss with the government.
“But it’s even more important to stand firm against any move to put barriers in the way of the majority of people who have genuine injuries and who need to make genuine claims.”
Meanwhile, WhiplashClaim.org.uk, an accident claims compensation firm based in Liverpool that is part of Lamb & Co, is now offering its clients a brand new Apple iPad3 for all accepted cases.
Conditions include have to first be sure that the claim is likely to be successful, that the other party was properly insured, and that the accident occurred within 24 months from the claim date. In addition, liability must be admitted and the claim must be worth more than £1,000.
The firm said: “Clients who qualify for the iPad 3 can use the device to help stay in touch with their appointed solicitor throughout the entire whiplash claim process… upon successful conclusion of the claim, the device will then be theirs to keep.”