Anyone making a claim for whiplash injuries after a car crash will be assessed by an independent medical panel, under proposals unveiled by the Government (Telegraph).
The plans are among a package of measures aimed at cutting the cost of whiplash claims which, it is estimated, adds £90 to the cost of every driver’s car insurance policy.
While road crashes have gone down by 20% over the past six years, the number of whiplash claims has risen by 60%.
According to the Telegraph, the use of independent experts, a proposal contained in a consultation document, is seen a way of clamping down on fraudulent claims and curbing the activities of a lucrative industry which has developed in recent years.
The plans were unveiled by Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, who also proposes to allow small claims courts to handle whiplash claims up to the value of £5,000, rather than the current limit of £1,000.
Ministers believe this will slash the huge legal costs faced by insurance companies when cases are considered by County Courts. They also believe lower legal costs will encourage insurance companies to challenge dubious claims rather than settling out of court.
The Government plans were welcomed by James Walton, head of motor and liability at the Association of British Insurers, who said: “We are pleased that the Government recognises that tough action is needed to protect honest motorists from the UK’s whiplash epidemic. For too long, whiplash has been seen as the fraud of choice.
“More effective diagnosis of whiplash will help genuine claimants get paid out quickly and reduce the scope for fraud, so helping to ensure that honest motorists do not end up footing the bill for the cheats through higher insurance premiums.”
The plans were condemned by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers. Karl Tonks, the organisation’s president, said the proposals would “cripple access to justice for vulnerable people”.
Click here to read the full Telegraph report.