Over the past year the number of claims for whiplash in the UK has fallen by almost 60,000, according to figures produced by the government. In the year 2012/13 there were 488,281 claims for whiplash, comparable to 547,405 claims the year before. However, despite clear evidence that whiplash claims are actually declining, the government recently held a Whiplash Consultation to address the apparent problem associated with a growing compensation culture in the UK. Yet, as Lord Dyson points in his report ‘Compensation Culture: Fact or Fantasy?’ it appears that there is merely a perceived compensation culture in the UK but this perception is in fact not grounded by actual reality.
Litigation Executive in the Road Traffic Accident department at Express, Alex Ratcliffe, comments: “Where there is so much noise in the media about this issue, it is important to concentrate on what is really worth listening to. Anybody reading a newspaper in the last few years would be forgiven for thinking that we live in a ‘compensation culture’ or an ‘epidemic’ of whiplash claims. Much is made of the fact that here in the UK more of our road traffic accident claims are for whiplash than in other EU states. Considered in isolation, facts like these give one the impression that the UK has a problem with whiplash. Even ignoring the fact that these figures were compiled by the European insurance industry themselves and were based only on estimate data, little has been mentioned that these figures could easily be explained by the fact that in the UK we have more cars on our roads per head than elsewhere in Europe (meaning more accidents). Also more importantly, the UK has a strong and robust legal industry meaning that more and more people in the UK are aware of their rights to claim compensation when they have been injured as a result of the negligence of another and have the access to justice to pursue this.
“We need to become increasingly alert to the figures with which we are bombarded and more astute at reading into their significance, or lack thereof. A substantial proportion of the body of evidence ‘against’ whiplash is provided by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) who naturally has a substantial financial interest in reducing the amount of compensation paid out to accident victims. Unlike the personal injury legal sector, the ABI – and its component members – has a duty to its shareholders and not to the victims of accidents. Whether or not this can be seen in the results of their statistics is unclear, but we must consider the recent findings of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). The ABI recently highlighted the whiplash ‘epidemic’ in conjunction with the prime minister at the much-lauded ‘whiplash summit’. However the recent figures compiled by APIL show that in fact whiplash claims are on the decline and at their lowest occurrence in 5 years, which is at odds with the impression promulgated by the ABI. Where the ABI would seemingly have you believe that whiplash is of pandemic proportions, these figures seem to suggest that in fact the opposite is true.
The term ‘compensation culture’ is now twenty years old. Since it was first coined in 1993 it has become a sound favourite for journalists struggling to fill column inches and has become a reliable sound bite for politicians and heads of state alike. Throughout this entire period the ‘culture’ has had its critics and those who have maintained that there is no such thing. This has even included the 2004 Parliamentary enquiry by the Better Regulation Task Force, which concluded that the very idea of a ‘compensation culture’ is a myth. Now, twenty years on, more and more voices are acting to debunk the idea of this culture as complete fantasy and the public need to be made more aware about the information.”
If you have been injured in a Road Traffic Accident that was through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to financial compensation. For free legal advice and help with your claim, please ring Express Solicitors today on 0800 158 5274 to speak to a specialist Road Traffic Accident solicitor