21 March 2014
As whiplash can have a prolonged and significant impact on an individual’s work, domestic and social life, it’s a condition that should be taken very seriously indeed. Approximately 20% of people who have suffered from whiplash have lived with its effects for over a year.
And yet, whiplash cannot be picked up on a scan, which is why it is often referred to as an “unseen” injury. For this reason, whiplash is frequently open to allegations of fraud, and indeed the condition often appears in the media alongside allegations of an “epidemic” of fraudulent claiming. It has been claimed that we are living in a “compensation culture”, and many insurers state that the cost of fraudulent whiplash claims is increasing the cost of insurance premiums for everyone.
Though it cannot be denied that fraudulent claiming is a problem, the idea that all cases of whiplash claims might be false causes serious distress to those who are genuinely suffering. It is for this reason that the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has spoken out against the idea of an “epidemic” of fraudulent whiplash claims.
As part of their ongoing whiplash campaign, APIL made a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Work and Pensions’ Compensation Recovery Unit. They found that far from being on the increase, whiplash claims in 2012/2013 were actually down by 60,000 compared to the previous year.
Despite this, there will always be those who try to cheat the system. It is unfortunately these stories that get the media attention, creating the false idea that the majority of whiplash cases are fraudulent. To counter this, APIL has put forward a 10 point plan to eliminate fraud in whiplash claiming, whilst at the same time ensuring that genuine claimants receive fair compensation for their injuries.
APIL’s plan primarily focuses on banning the practice of “pre-medical offers”, in which insurers offer to settle claims without the claimant having to first undergo a medical examination. APIL are also calling for the ban of spam texting; for claimants’ solicitors to organise access to relevant medical records; and for all whiplash claimants to be subject to a legally binding statement of truth.
Whether these measures will succeed in reducing fraudulent whiplash claims remains to be seen. In the meantime, the effects of whiplash should not be underestimated. Though you will probably only ever read about the cases of fraud, the fact remains that those who are genuinely suffering have a right to compensation.
Advance Legal has a specialist Personal Injury department to deal with road traffic accidents and whiplash claims, with clients offered a no win, no fee agreement.
Victoria Pryer is a Trainee Solicitor at Advance Legal. Please contact Victoria or another member of the team on 0800 068 00 69 and they will be happy to discuss your compensation claim with you.