Whiplash – “a profitable invention of the human imagination”?

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Whether or not Britain has a “Compensation Culture” is a hotly debated and very current subject. Our old mate Jack Straw has again been shooting from the hip on the subject and had another outburst in the Commons last week when he bemoaned “the extraordinary increase in the number and value of claims for personal injuries” with an apparent 1200+ claims for whiplash being made every day in the UK.

Statistics apparently show that over 80% of all claims made for personal injury compensation are for whiplash injuries. Needless to say, that we, along with the members of our Claimant Personal Injury Solicitor panel believe that Mr Straw most recent gun fight went too far, especially when he stated that whiplash was “not so much an injury more a profitable invention of the human imagination”. Quite how and where he gets that new development in medical science from is unknown. Mr. Straw is clearly a clever man and has a highly qualified legal brain too, but is he a neck trauma injury expert? Somehow, I don’t think he is. In a brutal attack on our industry, Mr. Straw stated that whiplash is “undiagnosable except by third rate doctors in the pay of the claims management companies and the personal injury lawyers”. Bit of a sweeping statement there Jack. I’m sure that there are many medical experts who would be more than happy to argue with you on that subject!

Tarring all with the same brush

Apparently, there are more claims for whiplash made in the UK than in other comparable jurisdictions. Mr. Straw states that some countries limit claims to circumstances where there is a “real injury”. However, that is the case here Jack as without medical evidence to support a claim, you can’t make one! Maybe Mr Straw should go back to the drawing board? He also calls for the requirement of “clear objective evidence” that an injury has occurred – again, it already is! He tries to ensure that under his scheme no-one who has suffered a genuine injury will be disadvantaged in these circumstances. So he is basically saying that most Doctors lie and that most claimants lie? Jack, are you really saying that?

Medical professionals look for a way forward

In response to Mr Straw’s criticism, leading clinicians in the field of whiplash are making a timely call for a new consensus in tackling the whiplash culture in the UK at a conference in November. Their aim is to produce a position statement and recommendations for three main areas: diagnosis, the claim process and treatment and rehabilitation, a statement which they believe the government and insurance industry should adopt. Contributions will be made by the Government, legal (Claimant and Defendant) and insurance sector to give a balanced view of the problem and ideas to resolve them.

According to ABI statistics (and we know that they would never be biased or fudged would they?!) UK insurers pay out around £2 billion a year on whiplash and they state that this is what has led to higher insurance premiums for us all. However, they don’t tell us how much they have made in insurance fee renewals for motor policies do they? The ABI also acknowledge that whiplash is difficult to diagnose and almost impossible to disprove. The whiplash clinicians have their work cut out.

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