Philip Waters, Camps comments on AXA’s report into whiplash and argues why genuine whiplash victims should not be denied access to justice.
“The insurance industry continually issues figures about how much whiplash claims allegedly add onto motor insurance policies every year. However no one appears to be questioning the numbers, which are 9 years old and, therefore, somewhat out of date. No one is asking whether any supposed saving that would be made if the law changes will actually be passed to consumers. The reality is that, according to official government figures, the number of whiplash claims has fallen to a five year low, with 60,000 fewer claims last year.
The ABI has had a one sided discussion with the Government about reforms and changes- many of which are already implemented. Despite all of these changes the next stage would see victims facing an increased small claims limit to £5,000 (and yet Lord Justice Jackson stated in his review that the current small claims limit of £1,000 should remain) and therefore we urge the Government to look at true figures, not emotive language and hyperbole, before making changes which could adversely affect genuine claimants.”
“AXA’s report claims that MRI scans and x-rays will help diagnose whiplash. However Dr Andre Brittain-Dissont’s evidence to the Transport Select Committee (TSC) asserted that MRI scans and x-rays would only show fractured bones and would not show stretched or torn muscles, a key indicator of a whiplash type injury. Again the government needs to listen to medical professionals and not the insurance industry before it imposes laws that will be damaging to many innocent road traffic accident victims.
These ‘selective’ reports funded by the insurance industry as part of its lobbying focus are essentially an attack on individuals’ right to access justice. A balanced argument with clear up to date data is the best way to proceed. The current drive by insurers looks set to inflate their profits and shift the burden to the tax payer to fund rehabilitation following an accident.”
“Our solution is that all accident claimants should have an independent medical assessment, which would and should outlaw the current insurance industry practice of making pre-medical offers. If the insurance industry is so concerned with stomping out fraudulent claims, why make these offers in the first place? And, if we were to resort to an insistence on MRI scans and x-rays, would this not have enormous cost and resource implications? Would insurers pay for these costly checks? If so – surely this would have a knock-on effect when it comes to premiums? Or will the tax-payer once again foot the bill if tests are done via an already over-stretched NHS? Perhaps there is an ulterior motive here; to make the process so potentially costly that it deters the average person from making a claim, once again eroding access to justice for many genuine claimants
The Law Society has also disclosed to the TSC that from a first insurance company compensation offer to a legally represented compensation offer, the difference is on average +274% in favour of the innocent victim. Again, this underlines how essential access to representation is. We are urging the Government to take all of this into account.”