The Prime Minister has pledged to tackle the “compensation culture” by cutting the number of whiplash claims. There is a lot of hype around whiplash injuries with some claiming that the injury doesn’t even exist. From my own experience and the clients I have represented the injury is very real. Many victims of road accidents are left with debilitating and permanent symptoms as a result of someone else’s mistake.
The motor insurance industry is hugely powerful. It spends enormous sums in lobbying the Government to reduce the costs of personal injury claims. The phrase “compensation culture” has become a powerful slogan for this campaign. However, at the same time, motor insurers are working flat out to capture the claims of those people who are injured in road accidents and when they do, they very often sell them on to their own solicitors!
Against this background, it may be wise to view this new initiative with scepticism.
The government has been persuaded to consider introducing a minimum speed threshold of 6.25 mph (10kph) below which a claim for a whiplash will not be possible. This approach creates a number of problems –
- The Courts have managed very well in resolving disputes involving injuries caused by low speed impacts. Why? It is because the Courts have access to the particular facts in each case. This is how justice works!
- Consider this. What about a frail old lady, sitting in the passenger seat of her son’s car which has stopped at red traffic lights? She suffers from osteoporosis. A car fails to stop behind them and bumps into them at low speed. Her son is fine. He is younger and stronger. His bones are not frail. Is the Prime Minister seriously suggesting that her injuries, caused entirely by the fault of another, should go uncompensated?
Our point is this – everyone is different. The Government’s approach will deny justice to many at the stroke of a pen.