There has been much discussion in the media recently about personal injury claims arising out of car accidents, especially fraudulent whiplash claims and the phenomena of “Crash for Cash” scams. These factors push up insurance premiums, and are in no-one’s interests.

According to the Association of British Insurers almost 1200 whiplash claims are made each day in the UK.  It is impossible to say how many of these claims are fraudulent but insurers think it is a sufficiently high proportion of the total claims to prompt the Association to announce last month the creation of a national Insurance Fraud Register which will flag up known fraudsters in an attempt to address this problem.

One of the main problems with whiplash injuries is, of course, that it is a condition which is very hard to diagnose.  It is a fraudster’s dream to be able to exaggerate the extent of an injury to increase the level of compensation paid, or worse still, to fake the injury altogether.

Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Flickr can be useful tools in the war against fraudulent claims. As the use of these sites becomes more widespread, the legitimacy of whiplash claims, along with any other personal injury cases, can be increasingly investigated on-line. With a few clicks, a claimant’s online presence can be researched and used to repudiate claims as necessary.  This can be very useful in cases such as whiplash as they provide a record of real time activities rather than the less candid response which can be provided to a GP or specialist. It will be hard for claimants to argue they have suffered a debilitating whiplash claim when their Facebook shows they ‘checked in’ at the summit of Ben Nevis after an arduous hillwalk.

Police precognitions can also be useful.  Asking the Police probing questions such as whether the occupants of the cars involved in an accident knew one another, or are known to the Police as a group, can help assess whether a claim is fraudulent.

Until medical science makes the much needed advances to allow the presence of a whiplash injury to be established objectively, we hope these tips will be of some assistance to those who defend liability claims on a day to day basis.