Whiplash personal injury claims slashed following reform

by JamesBooker on October 30, 2014

Motoring personal injury claims have fallen by a third this year as changes to the claims process for whiplash have been enforced. It’s estimated that whiplash is one of the most common personal injury claims made by motorists, but many cases are believed to be made fraudulently as an easy money-making scam.

The government has committed itself to introducing an improved claims structure which prevents abuse of the system whilst protecting those with genuine claims.

Following discussions between MP’s within the All-Party Transport Select Committee, amendments were agreed that, it was hoped, would deter false whiplash claims and stop them from progressing through the legal system.

The changes have minimised the amount lawyers can earn from handling uncontested minor injury claims – the large majority of which are claims for whiplash. Earnings have gone down from a maximum of £1,200 to £500. Referral fees have also been outlawed.The cost of medical reports in whiplash cases has also been fixed.

Lord Faulks of the Ministry of Justice said in a letter that this move was “integral in controlling the costs of civil litigation”.

Reforms imposed under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment Offenders Act sought to dissuade claims companies from pursuing whiplash cases of a highly disputable nature. Many of the changes made are aimed at the claims companies and how much they can profit from handling a claim, rather than the payout a claimant stands to earn, which suggests a deep mistrust of the industry – not particularly encouraging for solicitors and lawyers, or for the general public.

Undoubtedly, more needs to be done to cut down on false whiplash claim as there have been numerous reports of individuals and groups going to great lengths to conspire to make a disingenuous claim.

The Daily Mail reports an extreme example of a false claim made by a South Yorkshire based gang dubbed ‘crash-for-cash’.

Mohammed Omar Gulzar and his accomplice, Shoaib Nawaz, staged car crashes in order to defraud insurance companies by making false injury claims – a dangerous way to make money. Their particularly ambitious scam involved deliberately crashing a double-decker bus full of people into another vehicle. The passengers were all selected by Gulzar and Nawaz and were in on the fraud. Twenty-five personal injury claims for whiplash were made following the incident.

Not only are incidents such as this highly immoral, they are also incredibly dangerous. The participants risk not only their own lives, but those of other road users.

Thankfully, recent reports show that reforms are working and individuals such as Mr Gulzar are indeed being deterred. In 2012, a total of £354 million was paid to whiplash claimants. This figure dropped to £238 million the following year.

There is more good news for motorists, as car insurance premiums have seen a reduction in cost. The frequency and volume of whiplash claims kept insurance costs high for drivers. These new figures have resulted in a drop in policy prices across the UK.

Whilst it is right that the government are taking action against false whiplash claims, reforms do raise concern that some individuals with genuine claims may be dissuaded from pursuing compensation. Furthermore, solicitors may feel that a case is not lucrative enough for either themselves or their client to continue.

JamesBooker

JamesBooker

JamesBooker

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