Legal Cost Specialists

Compensation culture still a myth?

The Insurance Times has reported that the volume of whiplash claims has shot up by a third over the past three years. Figures obtained from the Department of Work and Pensions show that 571,111 whiplash claims were registered with the Compensation Recovery Unit in 2010-11. This is a one-third jump on the widely quoted figure of 432,000 whiplash claims in the ABI’s 2009 whiplash report.

What really struck me was that this was reported to be against a backdrop of a fall from 247,780 to 208,648 in the number of all road traffic accidents reported to the police, according to Department for Transport statistics.

If my maths is correct (and it rarely is), that must mean that for every RTA reported to the police there are a corresponding 2.7 people who suffer whiplash. Given the large number of vehicles on the road with only one occupant (probably the majority), that would represent a farcically high injury rate.

You couldn’t make it up.

Oh. Actually you can. That’s the problem.

8 thoughts on “Compensation culture still a myth?”

  1. I may have the solution. A system of cleverly positioned mirrors for optimum viewing capabilities and a strap fixing drivers’ heads to the headrest. Sorted!

    “I haven’t failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways that don’t work”

  2. I had a very small collision in my car not so long ago – the guy in front accidentally reversed into me at a very low speed. Hardly any damage to either vehicle, only a broken headlamp, and no injuries to anybody.

    It was all sorted out very amicably, he admitted fault straight away and i informed the insurers about what had happended, no inuries etc. What did strike me however was how my insurers were with me on the phone and throughout; constantly asked me if i was hurt in any way despite me being very clear that no injuries were sustained by anyone, asking again and again, are you sure sir, what about any passangers, are you sure you didn’t have a little bit of whiplash etc etc, are you sure you dont want to see a doctor, you wont have to pay anything…

    I couldn’t have been clearer to them about what had happened, yet they constantly tried to hound me about potential injuries. Having experienced this i can see why the figures Simon refers to exist. There is clearly ‘more in it’ for all concerned (the parties and the insurers, on both sides) if there are injuries suffered.

    I wonder how many people would say they are hurt in similar circumstances when if fact they were not? I suspect more than we would expect.

  3. I had an accident in my car in November 2009 – on the way to taking a solicitor client to lunch – when was stopped and hit from behind. Damage to car but able to continue. Had lunch and returned to home/office and then called insurer at around 5 pm and reported accident.

    I was not injured and felt fine and told insurer that. However, within a couple of hours and thus at around 7 o’clock, I received a telephone call from a well known firm of solicitors based in Liverpool when they said they were aware of my accident and were sure I must be injured and offered to act for me in a claim against the other driver. I made it clear that I was not injured and if symptoms did arise, I would obtain treatment and consider a claim. That was not good enough and the guy kept on trying to pursuade me that I must be feeling injury and they could get me compensation at no charge to me.

    I told him to bugger off in the end but many would have been tempted/convinced to make a claim.The thought of money for nothing must be very tempting for many and it was clear to me that the representative of the solicitors was not interested in the truth but just wanted “to sign me up”.

    No subsequent symptoms arose and therefore there was no claim.

  4. I was under the impression (I could be wrong) that barely 20% of road accidents get as far as being reported to the police and the police giving an incident number.

    If the police are called at the time, the first question asked is “Anyone Hurt and / or is the carriageway blocked?” In more recent times “Anyone Hurt” has changed to “Anyone seriously hurt”

    It is well established that whiplash and other strain / hyper extension injuries do not present immediately so the answer to plod’s questions is usually no, at the time of the accident. That does not mean there is no injury.

    Simon’s maths aren’t wrong – but until we know the number of RTA’s where the police either declined to register it, or they weren’t called at all, the conclusions are meaningless.

  5. “whiplash and other strain/hyper extension injuries do not present immediately”.

    Yes. People only realise they’ve suffered an injury once they receive a telephone call from an insurer/CMC/solicitor advising them they can make a claim for free.

  6. The fact that the rear end shunts etc which typically lead to small PI claims will very rarely be reported to the police completely falifies the point being made.

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