Monday, April 30, 2012

Whiplash cases once again under attack by the government

This post is brought to you by our friends at 1st Claims and Loyalty Law

The news at the weekend seemed to be full of reports that the government is about to crack down on whiplash claims. It's like a broken record year after year with change after change being introduced to crack down on fraud, on the compensation culture and even on specific claims such as that for whiplash. It's all very laudable but my concern is that when you start making change upon change without a detailed analysis the only winners will be the lawyers as they pick holes in both the drafting and sometimes even the substance of the new legislation. In this particular case, the Transport Committee published a report a few months ago which in my view completely failed to look at the problem of whiplash injuries in sufficient detail. In particular the report said that the Committee 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. In 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 (LASPO) 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". But specifically what evidence are they talking about? Whiplash injuries are notoriously difficult to identify objectively. Furthermore, medical evidence is already required to prove a claim. So it will be very interesting indeed to see what sort of tinkering the government in fact decides to undertake this time round and if indeed they can improve the system for anyone other than the lawyers.

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