Motortrades Insight Magazine Online

Whiplash claims: medical experts and specialist doctors could assess whiplash injuries under new proposals

Ref:A0213
Published: 13 March 2013
MEDICAL EXPERTS, or doctors and physiotherapists in Plain English, are to take the lead in assessing whiplash injuries, if proposals from the Association of British Insurers are taken seriously and put into practice.

Currently, insurance companies simply refer whiplash claimants to general practitioners (GPs), who are unable to accurately tell if a person is injured as they rely on what the patient tells them.

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But under the new proposals, any medical assessment of whiplash claims would be carried out by ‘accredited medical experts’ – likely to be doctors with access to advanced scanning equipment and physiotherapists, who traditionally use evidenced-based methods to diagnose and treat the injuries of 1,500 claimants every day.

“They [doctors and medical experts] would need to show their financial independence from claimant solicitors, take into account the circumstances of the collision rather than the claimant’s reported symptoms, and undergo training in latest diagnosis techniques,” explained James Dalton, ABI’s Assistant Director of Motor and Liability.

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Volvo have designed some of the safest seats in the industry to help prevent or significantly reduce the likelihood of whiplash injuries.

“Accreditation would be carried out by a Board made up of Government, judiciary, claimant interest groups, compensators and medical experts. The Board would develop the accreditation process and standardised whiplash medical reports, and arrange for the claimant to be examined.”

The Small Claims Threshold would also rise from £1,000 to £5,000 for all road traffic personal injury claims – making it simpler, ‘speedy’ and more ‘cost-effective’ to settle smaller claims.

Currently, 70 per cent of personal injury claims are for whiplash associated disorders. In comparison, that figure is 47 per cent in Germany, 32 per cent in Spain and just three per cent in France.

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Above: A closer look at the moving parts on Volvo's magical seat which is fighting the whiplash epidemic.

Mr Dalton added: “We believe our proposals offer the best cure for the UK’s whiplash epidemic. Insurers want to make it simpler and quicker for genuine whiplash claimants to get fair compensation. But whiplash is notoriously difficult to diagnose, which means that for too many people it has become the fraud of choice.”

With stricter rules, any claimant whose personal injury claim is found to be in any way exaggerated – even by the smallest amount – will have their entire claim dismissed, which could work against them if they end up needing to claim for a genuine injury in the future. 

“Our proposals will ensure better medical assessment of whiplash claims, offer a quick, simple way of paying genuine claims; provide certainty for claimants and compensators, and deter fraud that ends up being paid for through higher motor insurance premiums.”
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