Britain has been described by transport secretary Justine Greening as “the whiplash capital of Europe” after it emerged that the number of whiplash claims following road accidents reached 1,500 a day in the UK this year.
Last month AA president Edmund King said that the UK has fewer road accidents than all of Europe, but noted that there are many more whiplash claims for personal injury compensation, which he believes either means British motorists have weaker necks or there are more fraudulent claims in the UK.
In a bid to cut down on the percentage of these claims that are in fact spurious, the government has implemented a host of new legislation to persuade some people not to pursue a personal injury claim.
The NHS has revealed that whiplash is a very common injury that occurs following road accidents, when a collision (usually from behind) jolts the head backwards before it then whips forwards.
It also pointed out that the force does not need to be severe for a person to develop whiplash, with neck pain and other back injuries often occurring after low-speed collisions, particularly in women, who are worse affected than men as their neck muscles are often weaker.
Many motorists find themselves being accused of making a spurious claim due to the continuing increase in the number of claimants in the UK, with many insurers claiming that a low velocity crash does not cause whiplash, something the NHS disagrees with.
However, under the new measures designed to lower the number of bogus claims made each year, out of court settlements will be made more difficult and medical evidence showing an injury occurred will need to meet tougher rules.
Also, injury claimants will be thoroughly checked by specially-trained teams of doctors before claims are made. The medical experts brought in to assess injuries would be objective and have no links with the claimants or insurers, meaning an end to whiplash injuries being checked by GPs or doctors employed by medical reporting organisations.
Claims from cars travelling under 10 mph are also to be stopped.
Commenting after the measures were announced justice secretary Kenneth Clarke said it is “scandalous” that the current system makes it more affordable for insurers to settle “spurious” claims out of court than defend themselves.
He noted that the new regulations will make the process “quicker, cheaper and easier for valid injury claims to be dealt with through the small claims court”, which he believes will ensure those who have a genuine whiplash injury will get fair personal injury compensation.
The move comes as the data obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the Financial Times, revealed that nine out of the ten postal areas with the lowest number of whiplash claims were in Scotland.
This is due to the tougher rules and regulations in Scotland concerning referral fees and stricter controls on claims.