Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sponsored post: Transport Committee fails in its overly generalised analysis of whiplash claims

The House of Commons Transport Committee have very recently published its follow up report on the cost of motor insurance. One of the matters it covered was whiplash claims and it said in particular that it was "not convinced that a diagnosis [of whiplash] unsupported by further evidence of injury or personal inconvenience arising from the injury should be sufficient for a claim to be settled. I n our view the bar to receiving compensation in whiplash cases should be raised." it also said that if the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill did not reduce the number of claims then "there would be a strong case to consider primary legislation to require objective evidence of a whiplash injury". As someone who spent ten years practising as a personal injury barrister and representing both sides of the industry, the immediate problem with this sweeping statement is what type of objective evidence they are talking about? Whiplash is notoriously difficult to identify objectively and may well be one of the reasons why it also sometimes gets associated with fraud cases. But medical evidence is currently required to prove a personal injury in any event. So, perhaps the point may have been better made by encouraging more rigorous examination by GPs and consultant orthopaedic surgeons during the period of the injury. But for what it's worth, even this can raise difficulties in claims since the doctors that a patient initially visits are not usually for the purposes of litigation but instead for treatment. In those circumstances, their duty is to the health and welfare of the patient and not an insurance company. It's a great shame that having examined all of the evidence the Committee didn't make a more detailed analysis of this issue rather than leaving the impression of somewhat shooting from the hip. 

No comments: