Whiplash claims: Your Views
- 12 January 2012
- From the section Business
MPs are calling for action to reduce the amount of compensation being paid to people who say they suffered whiplash in car accidents.
The Transport Select Committee says insurance companies should challenge more claims - and the government might have to consider changing the law.
BBC News website readers have shared their experiences. Here is a selection of what they had to say.
Paul Knight, Ipswich
Following three accidents many years ago where I was hit from behind, I did suffer a whiplash injury which significantly lowered my head movement.
This was discovered following exhaustive checks and examinations by a qualified doctor for both insurance companies, mine and the offenders. I still occasionally suffer from trapped nerves.
I do feel that claims should be dealt with by rigorous examinations made by an impartial qualified doctor to determine the actual loss of movement.
Those who decline to undergo such examination should be denied compensation.
My thoughts, for what they are worth, are it seems the insurance companies would rather pay up than fight a fraudulent claim, as they can pass onto the consumer (the insured) any rising costs.
This is slowly pricing us all out of the market and leaves many with only third party insurance rather than the preferred fully comprehensive.
Charlotte Truman, Ashbourne, Derbyshire
My Dad had the unfortunate experience of reversing into a stationary vehicle on a blind corner at under five miles an hour.
The two girls in the car were fine when my father went to check on how they were. They exchanged details and their only concern was the small amount of damage to their car.
Later that week, my father received a solicitor's note explaining that the driver of the vehicle had put in a claim for "soft tissue damage", which the insurance company dealt with.
Aside from the obvious fact that the claim was bogus, my Dad was very shaken up and upset that even though he had done the right thing and been concerned for the two young women in the car, they had tried to claim further injuries for what could have been a simple, straight forward accident.
I honestly feel that the law should be corrected to protect both parties involved in an accident to ensure that claims like this cannot be made, but that ones which are genuine are followed through in the proper manner.
Ian Deamer, Plymouth, Devon
I had someone run into the back of me on the exit of a motorway slip road. From the impact I suffered an instant severe headache that lasted a few days and stiffness to my neck and shoulders.
I was concerned about my headache so visited A&E. I was diagnosed to be suffering from whiplash.
My insurers or their representative called me and advised that I make a claim. I had not considered it until I received a phone call from them.
The matter was practically taken out my hands: I made a claim and was awarded a small amount of money.
Did I deserve compensation? I was inconvenienced initially... but through no fault of mine I was in discomfort for about a week and doing my work caused some pain.
On balance, I'm glad they contacted me and I think I did deserve the claim.
It now appears that the victims of accidents are being made scapegoats for daring to claim compensation. This activity is neither criminal nor unlawful though it may be an inconvenient dent in the profits of insurers.
I am sorry but this seems another example of protecting business people at the detriment of the consumer.
John Hilton, Wigan, Lancashire
My 18-year-old son is an IT apprentice. He commutes every day by car from Wigan to south Manchester a journey impossible by public transport.
Travelling home last week whilst stationary in a queue of traffic he was hit from behind by another young driver and shunted into the car in front.
Through no fault of his own he and the driver he was pushed into are now off the road.
Whilst he wasn't seriously injured he did complain of a stiff neck the following day.
We assumed the insurance aspect would be a simple process but it has proved far from that as the driver who caused the accident wasn't insured and gave a false name.
Fortunately the vehicle he was driving was identified by my son's insurers as being owned by a nationwide hire company and so legal action is possible to recover repair costs, car hire, inconvenience, and yes an injury claim.
So whilst we agree that there is a culture of claim which is pushing up costs a counter argument would be that without services provided by injury lawyers, innocent "victims" of people such as uninsured drivers would not have any means, or simply unable, to claim back their losses.
Stephen Whitley, Wakefield
I had an accident about 11 years ago and 24 hours later started to suffer from whiplash injuries to my neck, side and back. I claimed for compensation for the injury and received physiotherapy treatment.
During the following 18 months I required time off work due to the symptoms of the injury recurring on three occasions.
I think that there should be additional controls introduced, a genuine claimant will see their doctor, receive treatment and probably make a claim.
Although my accident pre-dated the current craze, I think referral fees should be stopped.
The problem is, however, that genuine claimants will need to push their claim if challenged, and probably push the legal costs even higher!
Potential whiplash injuries should be assessed within a month of the accident and excluded from submitting a claim after this time if an assessment has not been made.
Martin Blakstad, High Wycombe
I was involved in a claims scam from a "created" accident on a roundabout on the Marlow by-pass.
I was following a car in free-flowing traffic when it just stopped suddenly in what I can only describe as an extreme manoeuvre.
I slammed on the brakes but just hit the back of the car. The force of the impact was not even great enough to break my headlight, though there was a dent in my bonnet and in the back of the other car.
There were four people in the car. My insurance company accepted liability because I hit them but also paid whiplash claims from everyone in the car.
The impact really was minimal but my insurance company said the people had doctor's certificates and that it was just too difficult to challenge soft tissue claims.
They paid up without consulting me at all to a figure of some £21,000. It was quite clear this was a scam to cause an accident and to make money from the claims process and my premium is now going to increase as a result.
There must be a greater burden of proof for these claims.
I have also been involved in a claim myself for whiplash caused by a head-on collision, and I know the doctors just asks basic questions.
I am sure they do not challenge what is said, if you know what to say, and they get paid regardless.
Adrian Foster, Colwyn Bay
A couple of months before Christmas I had a phone call from a company asking if my wife had recently had an accident as they believed that she had.
I couldn't remember any accident but she had had an insurance claim when she had scraped the car on the pillar of a multi-storey car park.
I was asked if anyone else had been in the car at the time. I told them yes, my mother and daughter. I was told that they could automatically claim £1800 each for their "injuries".
I said that they weren't injured. I was told that didn't matter as all we had to say was that they had suffered with a stiff neck and had taken paracetamol for it for a couple of weeks.
"If you go ahead with the claim now we could get you the money in time for Christmas" they said.
I must admit that it sounded tempting but I declined. I had more calls from them asking why I wasn't going to proceed. Eventually when I pointed out that they were inciting me to commit fraud, they stopped pestering me.
The big question is - was I a fool for not proceeding with a claim?
Anne James, Exeter
My husband, my 79-year-old mother and I were hit from behind by a 30 ton school bus. The accident happened two days after my father's sudden death and whilst travelling to arrange his funeral.
As well as the emotional upset and trauma, we all suffered neck and shoulder pain for some time after the accident.
We have paid for treatment and had to have time off work with loss of earnings.
My car suffered over £3500 worth of damage so it was hardly a small bump. We have had to undergo medical examinations and fill out numerous forms, but seven months on despite the driver immediately admitting liability, our insurance company is still fighting to have the claim settled.
I appreciate that false claims drive up the cost of insurance but similarly there are genuine claimants out there who also suffer hardship as a result.