Insurance hikes in Britain are directly a consequence of fraudulent whiplash claims, right? Wrong. Linking whiplash stats to insurance premium inflation is part of a scapegoat campaign by insurers - if recent arguments from UK legal experts are anything to go by.
The Justice Secretary Chris Grayling wants to sweep a catalogue of personal injury cases into the Small Claims Court. This will leave drivers fighting for personal injury compensation on their own, without any legal representation and with little chance of getting any justice for their injuries.
Grayling’s plans are based on a decade of insurers pointing the finger at whiplash fraud for their outlandish premiums and the media buying into this blame game…adding a worrying element of hyperbole in the meantime. This is the view of legal experts and commentators on the sector like John Hyde.
Hyde recently suggested that Grayling had ‘fell for the great insurance con’ - his breakdown of the figures seen as an eye-opener by many on this topic:
So it looks like 93% of whiplash injury claims, those which genuinely deserve compensation, will be forced into the Small Claims Court along with the 7% of fraudsters…for the sake of £4.00 per driver. Without a lawyer acting on behalf of the claimant here, well-practiced insurers will undoubtedly win the majority of cases - the mountainous prospect of victims fighting solo in court could even be enough to prevent claims being filed in the first place.
The £140 million a year in fraud costs doesn’t make a scratch on insurance profits - it’s the remaining billions in legitimate compensation pay outs that make the real dent. This argument is shared by high-ranking personal injury solicitor John Spencer.
Spencer is one of the most forthright PI lawyers in the UK; though accepting the need to eliminate fraud from the system, he is also keen to defend public’s right to access to justice:
“The government’s proposal to increase the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 cannot but have a devastating effect on whiplash caused injury victims. It should be remembered that this idea was consulted on at length and rejected by the Ministry of Justice on the grounds that it would stop genuine accident victims from receiving justice as recently as February 2012.”
Compensation is often used to help fund the new life of an accident victim, i.e. paying for long term physiotherapy or even temporary loss of income through absence in employment. For now, experts like John Spencer can help acquire that compensation from guilty insurers - but if Grayling goes ahead with what looks to be a misguided set of proposals, just one crash could leave drivers out of work and seriously injured…all to save less than a fiver per year.