Over the last year or so whiplash has become a dirty word – so to speak.
From politicians, to tabloids to insurers the message is that anyone who brings a claim for a whiplash type injury is a fraud. And the attack has then been extended to their lawyers who are portrayed as being almost in conspiracy with their clients –
I can imagine that many victims of whiplash injuries would be too scared to bring a claim in case they were accused of being the ones who make motor insurance premiums so high. Many of us have gone on and on about how false this image is and that the Association of British Insurers themselves have said that 93% of claimants are genuine. These arguments have consistently fallen on stony ground.
But a voice of reason and good sense has finally come from the very top of the judiciary. The Civil Justice Council (CJC) is an independent body whose role is to –
‘There is a sense that there is a danger of the problem being overstated, that only a small minority of claims are exaggerated or fraudulent, and the way to tackle fraud is by a robust approach by defendants to civil actions where there is evidence to support such an allegation or, in appropriate cases, through criminal prosecution.’
Their statement goes on to say that it is misconceived to suggest that forcing more claims into the small claims court would have any impact. They rightly say that any case involving allegations of fraud would be immediately removed from the small claims court whatever the value of the claim. They actually state what many of us have been saying all along i.e. that insurers already have the right to bring a robust defence to claims that are suspected to be bogus or exaggerated.
It is interesting that the CJC also observes that there are far to many ‘reforms’ being pushed at the present time and that there should be a proper, evidence based, assessment.
Will this make any difference? Well you would hope that an independent body set up by statute to advise the government will have some influence. But it is difficult to be optimistic when we have politicians who are hell-bent on delivering the heads of victims on a plate for their insurance friends.
But equally this could be the first of many statements that will ultimately see sense prevail.