“Whiplash” is a word seemingly coiled tight into the national psyche to simply mean car injury. So closely identified with any incident that might occur while driving that even a new, TV weekend light-entertainment puppet show makes at least two mentions of the condition by an over-sized crab sporting a bandaged neck support!
Unfortunately, the legitimate number of genuine accident claims for whiplash has been seriously undermined in recent years. Outrageous press headlines fuelled by an increasingly, hysterical insurance industry seemingly content to just point the accusing finger at the majority of innocent car collision victims.
According to the insurance industry, whiplash compensation claim figures were alleged to have escalated to “hundreds of thousands” with a rise in the number of claimants following vehicle collisions increasing from around 500,000 in 2006 to more than 800,000 in 2011/12.
However, at the end of July 2013, the government’s Transport Select Committee (TSC) year-long consultation into whiplash injury noted the insurance industry’s own figure as being a more realistic 7 per cent. However, much damage had been done to perception of the condition despite an official declaration that eight in ten of people who make a claim for whiplash are genuine (Whiplash Report 2012).
Eventually, it came to light that nearly fifty criminal gangs were actually responsible for much of the fraudulent activity, mostly in the north of England and the Midlands. “Crash for cash” scams, which involve the sudden and unexpected braking of a gang vehicle travelling just ahead of the chosen victim’s car, would mean the victim is unable to stop in time and crash in to the rear of the gang car.
The subsequent claim for whiplash injury by the gang member was rarely verified by insurers by a medical report nor followed up with a proper criminal investigation. Recent intense publicity stoked up by insurers over rising whiplash claims led to the TSC report and the forthcoming government legislation aimed at reforming the claims system.
However, it appears that the criminal gangs have replaced “crash for cash” with a similar but equally devious scam known as “flash for cash”. Vulnerable drivers, such as women with children and the elderly, are targeted by criminals who flash their headlights to allow a car driver to pass through then deliberately crash into them.
Unfortunately, far too many people assume that the long-established “courtesy” gesture of briefly flashing the headlights means that permission has been given by the driver to allow another driver through and automatically proceed without checking further. According to the Highway Code, the flashing of headlights is simply “to let other road users know that you are there.”
In other words, it should never be assumed that flashing headlights is a signal to invite another vehicle to proceed. Inevitably, the unsuspecting driver simply moves forward and is instantly caught in a deadly trap as thegang member’s vehicle slams into the victim’s car.
In court, often the word of the victim is directly opposed by the word of the defendant, which makes this exploitation of the misinterpreted “courtesy” gesture of headlight flashing particularly insidious as the victim is responsible for proceeding to move forward.
Camps Solicitors are concerned that we should not see another illegal claims bubble inflate, which does nothing to serve the interests of those many innocent victim claimants, who only wish to see their claims for justice to be served.