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Association of Personal Injury Lawyers

Lawyers challenge whiplash ‘propaganda’ as claims fall

25 Apr 2013
APIL news

Lawyers have today welcomed a cross-party inquiry into whiplash claims, as news emerged that whiplash claims have fallen again in the last year.

“The Transport Committee inquiry finally presents a real chance to challenge hackneyed and groundless propaganda about whiplash-related injuries which has been promulgated by the insurance industry for far too long,” said Matthew Stockwell, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

“And it comes as a Freedom of Information request shows that whiplash claims in Britain fell again last year by nearly 60,000, bringing them to around the same level as in 2008/2009,” he added.

“Considering the congested state of the UK's roads, the impact of improvements in car design and the compulsory use of seatbelts, it is no great mystery that there are significantly more whiplash injuries than catastrophic injuries and deaths from car accidents, and this is surely something we should welcome,” said Mr Stockwell.

Evidence submitted by APIL to the Transport Committee inquiry points out that a report from the World Bank shows that the UK has 79 per cent more vehicles per kilometre of road compared with the European average. This is higher than Germany, the Netherlands, and almost twice the number than in France.

“One of the key purposes of car insurance premiums is precisely to ensure proper cover for such injuries,” said Mr Stockwell. “What is more ominous is that a report published only last month shows that 29 per cent of our premiums is used to pay for repair costs and replacement vehicles, which is an aspect of claims which the Office of Fair Trading has already branded 'dysfunctional'.”

APIL's evidence refers to a finding by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) that insurers' approach to car repair and replacement “may push up premiums for drivers by £225 million a year”. The OFT has now referred the UK private motor insurance market to the Competition Commission for investigation.

“This, combined with insurers' staffing and overhead costs, accounts for more than half of the average premium, and this is where the real mischief lies,” said Mr Stockwell.

“This debate has been mired in myth and hyperbole for far too long,” he went on. “Whiplash injuries are real, they are painful, and independent research has found that around one in five sufferers have symptoms lasting more than a year. That's the reality. The fact that the Transport Committee is now taking a hard look at some of the myths is extremely welcome.”

-ends-

Notes to editors:

  • APIL's written evidence to the Transport Select Committee is online here: http://files.apil.org.uk/parliamentary-room/APILwrittenevidence-TransportCommitteewhiplashinquiry.pdf
  • *Figures from the Department for Work and Pension?s (DWP) Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) show that the number of whiplash claims in Great Britain for 2011/12 was 547,405, while the figure for 2012/13 is 488,281; this is a drop of 59,124 claims between 2011/12 and 2012/13. The CRU whiplash figure for 2008/09 was 486,194.
  • ** Refers to the Association of British Insurers' Lifting the bonnet report, published in March.
  • ***Independent research by APIL can be found in The Whiplash Report 2012 here.
  • APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) is a not-for-profit organisation whose members are dedicated to campaigning for improvements in the law to help people who are injured or become ill through no fault of their own.
  • For more information contact APIL's press and communications officers Jane Hartwell on t: 0115 943 5416, m: 07808 768623, e: jane.hartwell@apil.org.uk, or Tim Carter t: 0115 943 5409, e: tim.carter@apil.org.uk.
  • Visit the association's website at www.apil.org.uk.
  • •Follow @APIL on Twitter: www.twitter.com/APIL.

Past press releases

Government abandons full compensation for injured people, 23 Oct 2018
Extra pressure on NHS if Civil Liability Bill goes ahead, 03 Sep 2018
Bereaved relatives deserve fairness, 31 Aug 2018
Cut whiplash injuries with the headrest test, 15 Aug 2018
Grieving parents of stillborn babies fight for answers, 22 Jun 2018
Lawyers call for outright ban on cold calling for personal injury in Scotland, 01 Jun 2018
APIL, FOIL and MASS join forces for mediation project, 29 May 2018
Grieving relatives cruelly ignored by justice system, 27 Apr 2018

More past press releases

Head of Public Affairs
Lorraine Gwinnutt
0115 943 5400
lorraine.gwinnutt@apil.org.uk

Communications Manager
Jane Hartwell
0115 943 5416
jane.hartwell@apil.org.uk

Press & Communications Officer
Lizzy Freeman
0115 943 5431
lizzy.freeman@apil.org.uk