Claimant solicitors have dismissed a report into whiplash by insurer Axa as ‘highly biased’ and based on inaccurate or outdated statistics.
The insurance giant yesterday put pressure on the government to impose new medical and time limits for making low-value RTA claims.
The report pointed to countries such as Sweden and France as proof that the number of exaggerated or fraudulent claims will fall if the threshold is set higher.
But the Motor Accident Solicitors Society today rejected Axa’s report and said it ‘promised enlightenment but delivers only a blinkered view’.
In a statement, MASS said: ‘There are real dangers in trying to draw direct comparisons across different legal systems which have alternative structures, classifications of injuries and systems of award.
‘Other countries may have a smaller proportion of whiplash claims, but this is likely to mean that genuine accident victims are not compensated and cannot access the support and rehabilitation services that they need.’
Axa had claimed that whiplash accounts for just 3% of all bodily injury claims in France, but MASS argued this figure was back-dated to 2004. The claimant organisation said the insurance industry’s own research, published this year, found there had been a 1,000% increase in whiplash claims, which now account for 30% of all PI claims.
Axa had lobbied for whiplash claims to be rejected without an x-ray or MRI scan, but MASS said it was ‘disingenuous’ to impose such rules for a soft-tissue injury.
The group added that by excluding injured people from receiving damages, more pressure would be placed on the NHS and the benefits system because it would have to support claimants unable to work.
The Law Society, which is running an advertising campaign urging accident victims to go to a solicitor, also dismissed the Axa recommendations.
A Society spokesman said: ‘Whiplash can cause real, painful and debilitating injuries, not always revealed by x-rays or MRI scans. There is evidence that some insurers have offered paltry, insulting sums in compensation for nasty injuries.
‘We are not interested in defending the small minority of accident claims which are fraudulent, but anyone who has suffered a genuine injury should get advice from a solicitor.’