News item: Real debate needed for whiplash, say lawyers

May 2, 2012

Tough questions have to be put to insurance companies about the methods they are using for the handling of whiplash claims, lawyers have stated, before the commencement of a Whitehall summit which will take place today (2nd May) with members of the insurance industry.

Karl Tonks the new president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, has stated that whiplash injuries should not be trivialised as they can last a very long time. He is concerned that genuine victims in recent debates have been lumped together with those who are not true sufferers.

He considers that the insurers are in possession of the key that will unlock fraudulent claimants and it is only a matter of the insurance companies discussing the issues up front with lawyers so that a resolution can be sought. He further stated that the government should be questioning the insurers on their lack of transparency regarding fraud.

He pointed out that with personal injury victims insurers are failing to allow a legal process to proceed and are offering payments directly to victims of accidents with the aim of saving money outside of the formal legal process, because they believe it is cheaper to deal with people this way. At the same time, the possible longer term suffering may not be taken into consideration when a cash agreement is made.

It is fooling people to offer cash for their suffering from an injury today when they might take months to recover completely and this will involve a loss of income from taking sick leave from a job. Such a situation needs to be investigated thoroughly before a realistic assessment has been made of a claim.

Tonks said the insurance industry should now be committed to reducing its insurance premiums, especially after the cost of lodging personal injury claims in the case of accidents was brought down more than two years, but there has been no corresponding reduction in insurance premiums.