Whiplash is one of the most common injuries associated with road traffic accidents. It is estimated that British drivers submit approximately 1,500 whiplash claims per day, which is a higher number than many other Western European countries. Data suggests that this is twice as many claims as are made in France or Germany every day. One of the main reasons for the high number of claims is the number of cars on Britain’s roads.
Even minor bumps can cause whiplash injuries, because of the way that the head and neck are likely to move in this type of collision. For many people, whiplash can significantly reduce their quality of life, and it can leave them unable to work to their full abilities. However, fraudulent whiplash claims are common, as con artists have realised that compensation claims are a billion pound industry in the United Kingdom. Last year, the Association of British Insurers has stated that the cost of motor insurance for all motorists has actually been increased in order to cover the amount of (fraudulent and real) whiplash claims which are now being submitted. Whiplash claims therefore affect the nation as a whole, and not just the drivers who are directly involved in an incident.
What Is Whiplash?
Whiplash is a neck injury which can occur when the head is moved suddenly forwards, backwards or sideways. Symptoms of whiplash can include neck pain, stiffness, tenderness and loss of movement in the neck. Some people can feel whiplash-related pain in their shoulders and arms as well.
Whiplash may not be immediately apparent after an incident, but may be noticed a few days afterwards. Pain or discomfort can grow worse before it grows better. Although you should visit a doctor if you suspect that you have whiplash, it can be very hard for them to give a definite diagnosis, as there are very few overt physical signs, and no visible fractures or breaks can be seen. However, doctors should be able to give help and advice to patients about the best way to treat whiplash injuries.
Rest and over-the-counter pain medication are normally advised in less serious cases. In the vast majority of cases, the symptoms of whiplash disappear within a number of weeks. In a few cases, symptoms can last for longer than six months.
Why Whiplash Claims Increase Your Premium
If you have been involved in an accident then it is normal for your premium to increase, even if the accident was not your fault. Many motorists get lower premiums by avoiding making a claim on their insurance, and most people accept that if they do make a claim, then their premium is likely to increase. It is when other people’s accidents cause a rise in premiums that people start to feel confused.
In general, insurance companies use all of their customers’ premiums to cover the cost of any claims which are made by or against their policy holders. If more people make claims, then the central pot of money needs to be much larger to cover all of these costs. This means that an increase in the number of whiplash claims across the country could cause your premium to rise. Insurance companies are forced to increase the costs for everyone, because they risk going bankrupt if they do not.
It is estimated that the average cost of insurance for motorists in the UK has risen from about £356 to £367 over the course of a year. The government is considering the introduction of new legislation to reduce the number of whiplash claims which are made every year. This legislation aims at making fraudulent claims for whiplash less lucrative.
New Legislation for 2016?
As part of his Autumn statement, the then chancellor George Osborne announced plans which aim to reduce the monetary cost of dealing with whiplash claims. It is hoped that this could save insurance companies around £1bn per year, and that these savings could be passed on to customers. If the new legislation were successful, customers may see their annual premiums falling by around £40 to £50 per year. The plans for the time being have been put on hold, and with George Osborne now being replaced after the EU referendum there will almost inevitably be further delays.
Leading players in the insurance world have promised that they will pass any savings that they see onto their customers. The new rules seek to end cash-based claims, as these claims are the most lucrative from a fraudulent claimant’s point of view. Rather than receiving a lump cash sum to compensate them for their injuries, future whiplash claimants will be offered physiotherapy and treatment from licensed medical practitioners.
As well as costing insurers less money overall, it is hoped that it will almost completely wipe out fraudulent whiplash claims, as the majority of fraudulent claimants would have no interest in receiving access to medical treatment.
What To Do If You Need To Make A Whiplash Claim?
If you have suffered from an accident which has resulted in genuine whiplash, then you can still make a claim for compensation, so long as the accident occurred within the last 3 years. New legislation has not taken effect yet, which means that you may still be eligible for a cash settlement.
In order to make a claim, you should talk to one of our personal injury solicitors or trained advsiors to see if we think that your claim has a good chance of success. Call us about your whiplash claim today, free of charge.