In spite of so called ‘experts’ commenting upon the UK’s supposed ‘compensation culture’, official figures released by the Government confirm that the number of ‘whiplash’ claims continue to fall and has fallen by almost 60,000 in the past year. This is the lowest level since 2008/09.
This evidence has been obtained by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and submitted to the House of Commons transport committee’s inquiry into whiplash. The committee is seeking evidence to judge the Government’s suggestion that the UK is the ‘whiplash capital of the world’. This follows on from comments made by the Master of the Rolls, Lord Justice Dyson who said that the media are doing little to dispel this and instead created a false perception of a compensation claims culture.
Despite the continued fall in the number of claims, the Association of British Insurers said last week that it will argue there is an ‘epidemic’ in whiplash claims and will support the Government’s plan to raise the Small Claims Court limit from £1,000 to £5,000.
If the plan is approved this will mean that many thousands of innocent accident victims will be unable to afford the expert legal advice and representation they will need in order to successfully pursue their claims (as legal costs can’t be recovered within the Small Claims Court).
To add insult to injury, the same innocent victims will find themselves at the mercy of experienced lawyers instructed by the insurers, to whom money is no object. Indeed, the deep-pocketed insurers will simply pass their own legal costs back to their policyholders through insurance premiums.
Tom Ranson of Ashton KCJ injury services says: “With the Government intent on taking everything the insurance industry has to say at face value, it will come as absolutely no surprise if the insurers, again, get their way. This will have a catastrophic effect upon access to justice for many thousands of genuinely injured accident victims and prevent them from obtaining the treatment and compensation to which they are entitled.”