The United Kingdom is fast becoming known as the whiplash capital of Europe with 1,500 claims each day for physical and emotional damage not to mention loss of earnings. Unsolicited emails and text messages are now commonplace from companies urging drivers to claim pay outs after an accident.
Many of the claims are genuine; however, there are more and more cases where drivers are being encouraged to claim for whiplash even though there are no apparent injuries or even damage to the cars involved. The pay outs come from insurance companies who then have no choice but to push the cost of premiums up. Prime Minister David Cameron has met with many insurance companies to tackle the growing concerns about a compensation culture around whiplash claims. One of the things discussed was reducing the £1,200 fee that a solicitor will earn from a small value personal injury claim and also adjusting motor premiums on car insurance quotes accordingly. Another idea due to be debated is a speed limit threshold that is working well in Germany, where a claim will be thrown out if the collision occurs at a speed of less than 6.25mph.
It’s an idea that consultant Andrew Cope says would be much fairer. He works at Peterborough City Hospital’s accident and emergency ward and he sees at least ten cases of whiplash per month to drivers who have been involved in collisions.
Mr Cope said: “The symptoms will not show up on a normal X-ray. The majority will get better within four to six weeks, but some can last one or two years. Fundamentally it is becoming a claims culture, but it is difficult to be completely dogmatic because there are some people who have genuine problems. It has disturbed their sleep and the normal activities of their lives, and affected their work. So I have seen cases of genuine disability – but I have also seen cases where the signs don’t fit in with the symptoms.”
The coalition are also looking at encouraging the use of ‘smart-boxes’ to monitor the behaviour of younger drivers. A machine fitted inside the vehicle will monitor an average journey and grades each manoeuvre as green, amber or red. This score can be seen on a computer by anyone who has a password, so parents are able to monitor their child’s driving pattern. If it does take off, younger drivers could see their premiums coming down as well.