One of the biggest casualties of the on-going debate of Britain’s compensation culture is whiplash.
Whiplash is a term given to injuries sustained when the head is suddenly moved forwards, backwards or to the side. This injury usually occurs during road traffic accidents after a collision. It is caused by damage to the tendons and ligaments in the neck.
The media constantly bombard us with stories of whiplash injuries, along with dozens of tales of fraudulent claims. This paints a very particular picture to the public; that whiplash claims are reaching epidemic levels in the UK, a thought that can be incredibly damaging to the personal injury industry.
In fact, the truth surrounding whiplash claims is quite the opposite.
This year, Government figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request to the Compensation Recovery Unit of the Department for Work and Pensions have shown that the number of claims for whiplash being made has actually decreased by almost 24,000 over the last 12 months. Despite this, car insurance premiums are still rising and those working in personal injury law have the finger of blame pointing at them.
“The issue of whiplash claims and their effect on premiums has been subject to much propaganda,” said Deborah Evans, Chief Executive of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
Earlier this year the Transport Select Committee made a welcome announcement that they would be compiling and examining data surrounding whiplash claims and were aiming to shed some light on the reasons behind high car insurance premiums.
Whiplash bears the brunt of criticisms made against the “compensation culture” because it is an injury that can manifest itself in many different ways. It can cause pain in the head, neck and back, migraines, nausea and a great deal of additional problems. Many people refer to whiplash as “the silent injury” because of the unseen damage it can cause, including psychological troubles. Injuries from whiplash can last for weeks, months or longer after even a minor collision.
This list of symptoms that whiplash can produce have resulted in it being portrayed as an “easy claim” for those looking to get a quick cash pay-out.
The myth of fake whiplash claims has even lead the Government to consider moving claims for whiplash to the small claims court, where those injured will be forced to defend themselves without the help of an independent lawyer. This Transport Select Committee has already commented on these plans, saying that they could be counterproductive in attempts to locate and discourage fraudulent compensation claims.
Speaking on this subject, Deborah Evans said: “To send whiplash claims to the small claims court will punish genuinely injured people by leaving them unrepresented.”
Many personal injury lawyers now have growing concerns that the stigma attached to claiming for whiplash is actually putting genuinely injured people off filing a claim. In certain circumstances people are suffering from lost earnings and insurance excess which they do not recover due to fear of increasing premiums and the stigma against recovering compensation.
Research conducted by APIL has shown that as many as 40% of people who sustain a whiplash injury because of a collision never make a claim.
This shows that the media and Government’s continued portrayal of the UK as “the whiplash capital of the world” has successfully labelled everyone making a whiplash claim as a “money grabber”, resulting in those honest people with genuine injuries being made to feel guilty for claiming for what they deserve.
But here at Express Solicitors, we believe that you shouldn’t be scared to make any kind of claim for injuries you sustained from an accident that wasn’t your fault.
If you’ve suffered from whiplash after an accident through no fault of your own, then contact Express Solicitors today on 0845 456 4007 to discuss your claim for free.