Whiplash Injuries - Are they real?
17 November, 2016
Whiplash claims receive much negativity in the media, and the announcement of the 17th November 2016 that the consultation to change the small claims limit will go ahead demonstrates how whiplash is not taken seriously enough. These changes are related to whiplash claims in particular, with the changes proposing that not only is the limit raised from £1000 to £5000, but also that the right to claim compensation for ‘minor’ whiplash claims will be capped at £425. This is apparently a move designed to stamp out the ‘compensation culture’ and the high volume of false claims that has yet to be proven to exist.There have been rumours surrounding this for a number of months, and this is not the news we were hoping for. Whilst solicitors may seem like the bad guys here, things will not necessarily improve as a result of these changes.
Commenting on the Ministry of Justice’s proposals for personal injury reforms, Qamar Anwar, managing director of First4Lawyers, says: "These proposals are far worse than anyone could have anticipated and do nothing other than to benefit the insurance industry fat cats at the expense of innocent accident victims. We sincerely hope that there is a real consultation and that this isn’t a ‘done deal’ as the language of the announcement suggests. Far from reducing premiums, reforms to date have only increased insurers’ profits and there is no reason to believe that it will be any different this time. The government has no mechanism to monitor and enforce lower premiums.This is simply a licence for insurers to print cash."
Whiplash is often written off as a non-injury, and is seen to be the epitome of the ‘compensation culture’. However, Olympian Greg Rutherford recently how he suffered whiplash as a result of a jump he did at the Birmingham Diamond League, which has caused him to lose his hearing, possibly permanently. This demonstrates that not only can whiplash be serious and have long lasting consequences, but also that it is not always as the result of car accidents. Both of which are common misconceptions of whiplash injuries.
Whiplash is regularly just seen to be neck pain, or even phantom neck pain, and the perception perpetuated by the insurance industry that there are lots of false claims have led to many believing that whiplash doesn’t even exist. However, it does exist, and it can have serious consequences far beyond neck pain, as Greg Rutherford’s injury shows. Whilst of course Greg’s injury didn’t come about from an accident, it does demonstrate the need to take whiplash claims more seriously.
The claims industry is often blamed for rising insurance costs, and with premiums rising almost 20% in a year, it’s no wonder people are getting frustrated. In fact, rising insurance costs were directly linked to the proposed changes of the small claims limit by George Osborne, as he claimed that the changes would remove £1bn from ‘the cost of providing motor insurance’. Which is of course not a direct help to the individual motorist, but he added that ‘We expect the industry to pass on this saving, so motorists see an average saving of £40-£50 off their insurance bills’. However, it is highly likely that the everyday motorist will not see these benefits, and it will become abundantly clear to those who haven’t already realised that the true cause behind the rising premiums is the insurance industry itself.
Is it a coincidence that once you have reported an accident to an insurance company you are often consequently bombarded with calls from companies who know you’ve been in an accident? Often these telemarketing companies are off-shore and therefore ‘untouchable’ by UK legislation. It is these companies who push for false whiplash claims and make you believe you have a claim, without needing to provide any evidence of such accident, not those such as First4lawyers who are here to offer guidance and help to those who have been the victims of genuine accidents. It is companies such as ours that are left with the bad name.
Whiplash claims for long lasting effects such as those suffered by Greg Rutherford are more likely to result in compensation above the £5000 limit. However, for those who are suffering lesser consequences, but still those that impact on their lives, they may soon be unable to make a claim. Whiplash doesn’t just cause pain, it can also result in the loss of earnings. These victims should be taken seriously, not shut out due to the actions of fraudsters and insurance companies.