Whiplash Compensation Culture?
Too often we hear in the press people often writing about a “Compensation Culture”, referring to people making bogus claims for compensation, ‘crash for cash’ claims or ‘set-up’s’ between friends in order to claim of their insurers.
However, for the vast majority of genuine claimants that we deal with every day, the reality for them is very different.
Many people refuse to make a claim for compensation when they have suffered a minor or severe injury through no fault of their own. In this case, the only beneficiary of them refusing to claim compensation is the insurance industry.
Although the law of tort is not a very exciting topic, it is worth looking at the basic English legal system and how it has been developed and enforced as to why compensation is payable.
Tort Law has been with us for hundreds of years, it is the law that covers claims for compensation, the law basically states that:
If one person owes another a duty of care, and he or she breaches that duty, causing the other person any pain, suffering or financial loss, the other person should be put back in the position they were in had the accident not occurred.
So, to break that down into the circumstances of a whiplash accident:
If one person owes another a duty of care, every motorist owes all other car drivers a duty of care. You are driving a potentially dangerous vehicle, so the duty of car is fairly self explanatory.
If he or she breaches that duty of care, for instance, if you drive your vehicle into another person or another vehicle then you have breached the duty of care that you owed to the other person. Causing the other person to suffer loss or injury. If the other person suffers a whiplash injury, or their car is damaged, and this loss was caused by the breach of duty (the crash) they are entitled to make a claim for compensation.
The RTA (Road Traffic Act) made the purchasing of car insurance compulsory and spawned a very profitable insurance industry.
The law of tort is well developed, as is the insurance industry. There are many different statistics but many of them confirm that the number of whiplash and other accident related claims made each year, generally remains the same.
Another statistic rarely given as much press coverage as the ‘compensation culture’ articles is the fact that many people that could claim compensation, who are legally entitled by law to – often choose not to do so.