The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) recently reported on the shock 28% increase in non-whiplash RTA claims.
Actually, strictly speaking, that is not quite true. What APIL did report, with great fanfare, a press release that received widespread coverage in the legal press and various tweets was that there had been a 24,000 drop in whiplash claims last year
I’ve previously queried APIL’s similar claims given the Compensation Recovery Unit’s figures have been showing a rise in RTA claims. I therefore contacted APIL’s press office to try to get to the bottom of this.
Firstly, they clarified that they were only talking about whiplash claims, rather than RTA claims overall. I did ask if they could send me a copy of the figures they were working from or provide a link to this. Strangely, they were unable to do this but they did confirm that the figures did indeed come from the CRU. (Perhaps they met a man down the pub who works for the CRU and this is how they got their figures.)
Nevertheless, I will proceed on the basis that these figures do indeed come from the CRU and that they show in relation to whiplash claims the following figures:
2011/12 – 547,405 claims
2010/11 – 571,111 claims
I will also proceed on the basis that the CRU figures available on the internet showing the total number of RTA claims are also accurate. These show:
2011/12 – 828,489 claims
2010/11 – 790,999 claims
Deducting the number of whiplash claims from the total number of claims gives us the following balance of RTA claims other than those related to whiplash:
2011/12 – 281,084 claims
2010/11 – 219,888 claims
At this stage it becomes apparent that insofar as there is a story within these figures, it is not the modest 4% reduction in whiplash claims, it is the staggering 28% increase in other types of injury claim. (To put this in perspective, the one-year increase of 61,196 additional non-whiplash claims is not that far short of the total number (81,470) of Employer Liability claims throughout the whole of 2010/11.)
This category of case, obviously, covers an enormous variety of injuries, with everything from a cyclist receiving minor grazes to their knees following been knocked off their bicycle all the way up to those being rendered tetraplegic. However, under normal circumstances one would expect the proportion of non-whiplash injuries to remain broadly the same as the proportion of whiplash injuries. I am prepared to admit the possibility that changes in car, seatbelt and headrest design might, over the long term, impact on the likelihood of those involved in RTAs suffering whiplash injuries. But I struggle to begin to imagine what can have happened over a one-year period to have led to a decrease in whiplash injuries at exactly the same time as other injuries are soaring by this margin.
Commenting on the very high number of whiplash injuries that appear to be suffered in this country rather than other European countries, one wag suggested that we in this country must have the weakest necks in Europe. These figures appear to suggest that the past year has shown a modest improvement in the strength of our necks but at exactly the same time as the rest of our bodies appear to have suffered from the worst deterioration in general health since the Black Death.
Under the circumstances, I find it extraordinary that APIL should be seeking to make a big song and dance about the whiplash figures without even commenting on the massive apparent increase in other injury claims.