Banning whiplash compensation - a backlash against justice
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I noted with interest in this week's Law Society Gazette that Aviva has announced that it detected more than 3,000 so-called "crash for cash" Claimants in 2015 and that it has more than 17,000 suspicious whiplash claims under investigation.
Whilst I am unable to verify the accuracy of Aviva's statistics, the number of suspicious claims being investigated is certainly troubling as fraud pushes up premiums for motorists and innocent drivers are put at risk by those staging accidents.
However, despite the undeniable fact that some fraudulent or exaggerated claims are brought each year, there still remains a need for genuine whiplash Claimants to be compensated. Whiplash is often regarded in the press as a by-word for fabricated injury, but genuine whiplash can be debilitating in all aspects of life causing pain, loss of range of neck movement, headache, emotional distress and disturbed sleep.
The shock announcement in last November's Autumn Statement by Chancellor George Osborne that he intends to place a ban on general damages for minor soft tissue injuries from April 2017 is of great concern. An injured person, regardless of severity, deserves to be compensated and it is misconceived that placing a ban on general damages for pain and suffering is the appropriate response to combat fraud in this area. A claim which is limited to recouping financial losses with no compensation for the pain and suffering caused is not administering justice.
Moreover, the proposal creates the nonsensical situation where Claimants will still need to obtain medical evidence to prove their entitlement to recover financial losses, including medical treatment fees, but then not be compensated for those proven injuries.
Investigate fraud, of course, but surely we should ensure that those who are injured through no fault of their own, are properly compensated?
I keenly await the Ministry of Justice Consultation on this issue, due later this year.
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