In November, the Government stated that they plan to bring an end to whiplash claims in the UK - aiming to reduce motorist premiums and closing the door on the so-called ‘whiplash culture’. But one has to wonder whether the Government has been influenced by the negative and trivial media portrayal of ‘whiplash’ claims and whether this move will even equate to real savings for motorists in the UK on their car insurance premiums?
What appears to be forgotten is the potential impact on individuals suffering from whiplash injuries - which in reality is not a trivial matter. When we look at the medical assessment of whiplash we see that whiplash is caused when a person experiences a severe movement in their neck and back when they experience significant physical impact and this can have a devastating impact on an individual’s life. Medical experts have shown that these types of injuries can impact upon victims for months if not years and in some cases can cause permanent problems for victims of whiplash.
We recently obtained damages for a client who as the result of a serious Road Traffic Accident will be left with permanent problems in their back following significant trauma sustained in the accident. Under these proposed new reforms this client would have been unable to make a claim for compensation including a claim for the loss of earnings that they sustained as a result of the accident.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has stated that he proposes in due course to bring about an end to whiplash claims. They have stated that by bringing an end to whiplash claims this will reduce motor insurance premiums. However, when widespread cuts and reforms were made in respect of Road Traffic Accident claims in April 2013 motorists did not see the promised reduction to insurance premiums. There is also the real danger that the Small Claims Courts may be inundated with whiplash claims as a result of these proposals, which can only exacerbate the current situation.
There is no proposed date for the implementation of these reforms and whether this will put an end to whiplash claims is still open to debate. However, if the Government proposals are implemented then thousands of people would be denied compensation for injuries sustained which were caused by others – opening the door to devastating financial scenarios for the victims who may be out of work and unable to continue their day to day life.