MASS brand AXA whiplash report ‘biased’ and ‘blinkered’

July 28, 2013

For the second time in as many weeks, AXA’s investigation into whiplash injury has been slated due to inaccuracies in the statistics used to prepare the report.

The APIL was quick to point out the shortcomings soon after AXA’s report was published. Now MASS has spoken out voicing similar concerns.

Identifying whiplash is the major sticking point

In defending against personal injury claims in the past, insurance companies have often been quick to refute medical “proof” of whiplash injury, claiming it as inadmissible.

What’s sticking in the throat of personal injury lawyers, and now MASS, is that AXA’s report now conversely calls for X-Ray and MRI scans as mandatory with each whiplash claim.

Craig Budsworth, the chairman of MASS, elevated the arguments presented by APIL last week to an even more emotive level.

Foremost, he pointed out that diagnosis of soft tissue injuries like whiplash is futile using the type of machinery AXA suggest. Secondly, he highlighted who’d be expected to pick up the tab if the report was to gain credence and indeed be implemented on a wider scale.

If Mr Budsworth’s interpretation is accurate, it’s suggested that it’s the NHS, hence the taxpayer, who will eventually shoulder the cost of both diagnosis and treatment, not the insurers as is currently the case.

MASS seeking enlightenment, instead getting AXA’s ‘Blinkered View’

From the remark’s made by the MASS chairman, his disappointment in the report’s findings and recommendations is obvious.

Rather than use this opportunity to recommend an objective way forward, it seems only AXA’s interests (and how they can defer as much of the cost of successful whiplash injury claims towards the public purse as possible) have been considered.

Many agree that counsel by a medical professional should be sought before entering into whiplash claims, as the report implies.

However, the suggested time limits and diagnostic solutions proferred by AXA are both untenable and impractical.

Is grading whiplash on a scale the answer?

In the report, it was suggested that a grading scale similar to that used by the Quebec Task Force should be used to assimilate the degree of injury suffered by drivers and passengers in an RTA.

In Canada, they grade neck pain from 0-4; a score of 0 represents no pain, 4 indicates dislocation, fracture and/or chronic neck pain.

On the surface, that doesn’t seem so bad a suggestion: simply put, injuries graded 0-2 inclusive don’t qualify for compensation; a diagnosis of 3-4 does.

However, when you appreciate that the scale adopted by the Canadians is used for prognosis and to formulate ongoing treatment for neck injuries rather than to determine qualification for compensation, it does take on a somewhat different perspective.

What is the answer to spurious whiplash injury claims?

It boils down to one simple fact: there is no easy way to diagnose whiplash, or not.

The circumstances of a collision may suggest one outcome, yet existing conditions inherent within each and every victim could affect the severity and extent of long-term treatment on a case-by-case basis.

The only way to qualify victims is through an interview and examination with an independent consultant who specialises in neck and soft tissue injury.

The specialist could then advise on the likely impact of whiplash based on previous medical history and results of their unbiased examination.

As for the cost of that examination, if the decision is a positive diagnosis, the insurer settles the bill. If, however, there’s little evidence of whiplash, the ‘victim’ pays.

Anyone with only slight discomfort or thinking of submitting a spurious whiplash claim may well be deterred from doing so if they face a bill should nothing can be found wrong with them.

Have Your Say:

  • Is AXA really as ‘biased‘ and ‘blinkered‘ as MASS makes out?
  • Or could the imposition of a bill for unfounded whiplash claims be made caveate and subsequently deter the ‘ambulance chasers’ who’ve given rise to the need for this report from AXA?