Industry news roundup: week ended 20 Jan 2014:
It’s never good when you end up in a road traffic accident, especially if you then have to make an accident claim, but it’s worse when victimised even further!
However, that’s just what’s been happening lately. The worst part is that these individuals are getting preyed upon by those that they should be able to trust – in other words, police officers and doctors if you can believe it.
First up comes news this week of a high-profile case involving PC Sugra Hanif plundering personal details official accident data in order to glean names and phone numbers in a search for people who might want to make personal injury claims. However goes worse than that, as allegations exist that the phone calls were extremely aggressive. At £700 a successful referral, I suppose I would be a pushy bastard too – though I certainly wouldn’t plunder official police records in order to do so!
It’s a pretty rotten thing this woman was doing, if you ask me. Those official records aren’t supposed to be used as a money-making opportunity, and the fact that this woman violated the privacy of these victims just to make a few quid absolutely makes my blood boil. It’s a nasty violation indeed – but still, it’s not nearly as bad as what one doctor did recently.
Imagine you end up in an accident that’s left you with whiplash, so you go to your doctor for an examination. Sounds like a normal doctor visit – unless you have Shahid Ayyoub as a GP, as the 57 year old man was recently convicted of removing a female patient’s bra and having a bit of a time with his hands instead of simply examining her neck.
Of course this kind of behaviour didn’t go unpunished, as the judge more or less threw the book at the man, and rightly so if you ask me! Turns out he comes from a very prominent family with several other doctors in its ranks, not to mention two of his own children are going to school for medicine as well. I swear, this man’s runaway sexual proclivities have ruined not only his life but likely the lives of the rest of his family members as well! Stupid git.
Industry news roundup: week ended 30 Dec 2013:
Whether you wok for a particular local authority or you simply drive on the roadways that they’re responsible for, claims against councils are on the up.
In fact, this week it was revealed that staff drivers for Wigan Council have racked up some £360,000 in personal injury compensation over the past four years. All told there were nearly 150 road traffic accidents where a vehicle owned by the local authority was damaged by a council employee.
There was some good news according to the data, as the last financial year saw only 34 incidents costing the council a total of £93,620. This sounds like quite a bit, but when you compare it to the 2010-2011 financial year’s 63 accidents costing £115,055 in successful personal injury claims, things are put in a bit of perspective; still, that figure seems much too high to me – and I’ll wager there are some very heated discussions going on behind closed doors in Wigan Council.
Meanwhile, it could always be worse – in fact most claims figures for local authorities are much higher, especially when it comes to injuries and damage sustained by local residents. A perfect – and perfectly harrowing – example of this is the £1.7 million that Worcestershire County Council has had to pay out in compensation over the past four years.
All told there were more than 3,300 claims made against the local authority, all from any number of sources. Accident claims on country roads, slips and trips on pavements or in council buildings, and injuries to pupils whilst in school comprise the lion’s share of the injuries – and personal injury claims in particular make up an overwhelming amount of the legal bill.
So I really don’t know what’s worse – living as a resident in Worcestershire County or being an employee of Wigan Council. Whatever your fate may be, it’s going to be rife with possible trips to the A and E department because some stupid idiot pranged you from behind and gave you a bad case of whiplash injury or something similar. I swear it’s enough to convince me to move to the Scottish highlands and live like a hermit just to keep away from other people. I suppose I’d get lonely eventually – but at least I’m not going to get into a rear-end shunt with a sheep!
Industry news roundup: week ended 14 Oct 2013:
In the world of accident claims, whiplash accounts for quite a bit of fraud – but at least two scams were caught cold thanks to photographic evidence this week!
First up is the story of how one driver collided with a lorry in what turned out to be a complete scam. The lorry, which had luckily been fitted with a video recorder just for such an eventuality, bore witness that the lorry driver was not at fault, despite the other driver’s protestations to the contrary – it’s kind of hard to argue that the other bloke was at fault when you career across three lanes of traffic, isn’t it?
I’ll wager that the scammer was in for more than a little bit of a surprise to learn that he had been caught on camera. It makes me giddy to learn that there’s one less fraudulent personal injury compensation claim out there thanks to this technology.
Meanwhile it’s not just at the scene of the accident that digital footage is playing a role in discouraging fraud. Another story that broke this week revealed how a former police officer, someone who was supposedly suffering from a severe case of whiplash, went out and took part in a professional cage fight less than a fortnight after the ‘injury’ took place – and there’s video footage of the fight!
Well too bad for this bloke that prosecutors viewed the footage and determined that there’s no way he could have been suffering from whiplash and also participated in the heavyweight bout. This is pretty much an open-and-shut case of attempted insurance fraud, and now there’s a very good chance that there could be some jail time in this foolish man’s future. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bloke, if you ask me!
I swear, it’s like these fraudsters are getting less and less intelligent with each passing day. It’s like they’re just not thinking at all besides about the shedloads of cash they’ll supposedly get from making their fraudulent personal injury claims; perhaps they’re so blinded by greed that their basic reasoning skills go on holiday? Then again you have to be rather thick to attempt fraud like this anyhow, so I shouldn’t really be surprised by stories like this now should I? What a pack of idiots.
A new survey has discovered that Liverpool could be considered the whiplash capital of the UK, as the number of whiplash claims being made within the city leaves the rest of the country’s figures to pale in comparison.
22 out of every 1,000 people in Liverpool reported suffering from whiplash after a road traffic accident, which beat out both Uxbridge’s 21 and Oldham’s 20 to claim the dubious honour of the top spot. However, there are parts of Scotland that boast much lower figures, such as the Dundee and Edinburgh areas that have only three whiplash-related claims for every thousand general car accident claims, the survey discovered.
Spurious claims cost £2 billion every year the insurance industry says, which can account to an additional £90 being tacked on to every motorist’s insurance policy as a result. Things have gotten much worse in only a few years, as whiplash claims have rocket by 70 per cent over the second half of the last decade, even as the number of accidents actually declined by 23 per cent over the same period of time.
Scotland seems to have the safest and most honest drivers place in nearly every instance, as a Freedom of Information request discovered that 90 per cent of the postcodes with the least number of whiplash-related claims occurred within the country. Industry experts say that this could be the result of a legal system which has much more stringent controls in place than in other regions of the UK.
An overwhelming majority of Brits are completely fed up with the personal injury compensation sector, with a massive 93 per cent supporting any government clampdown on accident claims involving whiplash, a new survey recently discovered.
Two out of every three drivers surveyed by the research study said that the government’s new proposed plans to subject whiplash claims to closer medical scrutiny because the UK’s ‘compensation culture’ has gotten completely out of hand. Meanwhile, an additional 27 per cent remarked that the new proposals, which would see alleged victims of whiplash assessed by independent doctor panels, were needed in order to stop car insurance costs from going up any more than they already have.
People are simply fed up with having to fit the legal bill for the insurance industry as a result of the surge of whiplash claims, experts say, as current estimates exist that claim whiplash-related legal matters cost insurers £2 billion in compensation payments in 2011 alone, and that this £2 billion is recovered from honest, harried motorists by raising the average premium price by around £90. Insurance specialists have welcomed the new proposals as well, adding that it’s another important step in managing motoring costs for UK drivers.
Industry experts said they were encouraged to see the government continuing to take action, much as they did last year in banning personal injury lawyers from taking referral fees, which were found to be one of the biggest reasons the number of car accident claim figures were rising at such an unmanageable pace. Things had gotten so bad that, even though the number of car accidents have gone down by around 23 per cent over the last six years, the number of claims being made had actually increased by a factor of 70 per cent – something industry insiders blamed on lawyers and claims management companies flogging lists of personal details purchased from insurers to look for drivers interested in making a claim.
Whiplash claims will soon be subjected to higher thresholds after a tougher system is implemented for medically certifying injuries, according to transport secretary Justine Greening and justice secretary Ken Clarke.
The new move, designed to curb the influence of criminals making fraudulent car accident claims to turn a profit, is one of several new measures being implemented in order to minimise the impact being felt by whiplash-related personal injury claims. Insurance claims arising from car accidents has undergone a 70 per cent increase over the last six years, according to official statistics, even in the face of the number of accidents themselves undergoing a nearly 25 per cent decline.
Insurance providers have leveled the blame on the proliferation of personal injury firms and claims management companies, with legal fees and compensation payouts costing insurers £2 billion in 2011 alone. This has led Government ministers to adopt new strategies to minimise the influence of these firms, with other measures being taken to institute more stringent regulations for those wishing to reach a settlement out of court with an insurer.
In a recent interview in the Sunday Times, Mr Clarke called it ‘scandalous’ that the current civil litigation system is actually less expensive for an insurer to simply settle a spurious or frivolous whiplash-related injury claim in a settlement out of court instead of defending it. The end result, according to the justice secretary, is that honest drivers have had to shoulder an increasingly heavy burden in the form of increasd insurance premiums, with some experts stating that £90 of every current policy goes towards recovering insurers’ costs incurred in paying out on whiplash claims.
Anyone making a whiplash accident claim in the wake of traffic collision may soon face higher thresholds for their injuries, it was recently reported.
The Government has recently announced it will be setting up an independent expert panel in order to investigate the veracity of suspect whiplash injuries under tough measures designed to eliminate the fraudulent claims that have sent insurance costs rocketing upwards across the country. Official figures indicate that the number of personal injury compensation claims occurring over the past six years has increased by 70 per cent, and while GPs have said that about 25 per cent of the 600,000 annual whiplash claims are either overdiagnosed or completely fraudulent, around £2 billion is paid out in compensation every year.
Both Transport Secretary Justine Greening and Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke held a summit in Whitehall last week with an aim towards taking the growing problem head-on, building on the recommendations made by the Commons transport committee earlier this year that whiplash-related claims costs are the biggest culprit in driving up costs for the average motorist. Ms Greening called the UK the ‘whiplash capital’ of the eurozone due to the number of individuals making claims on injuries that occurred in incidents that were exceedingly minor, indicating that perhaps Brits had the weakest necks in Europe, and Mr Clarke has plans to encourage insurers to bring challenge against claims suspected to be spurious or false by taking steps to ensure a higher number of claims are heard in small claims courts, thus reducing the threat of massive legal costs.
MPs have said that drivers need to undergo more rigorous medical testing when looking for compensation in cases of whiplash, industry experts recently reported.
The Transport Select Committee has made the recommendation that whiplash diagnoses need to be subject to higher levels of scrutiny, as too many unscrupulous no win no fee solicitors are exploiting the subjective standards as they exist currently. MPs also urged insurers to abandon premium-inflating practices in regards to personal injury claims, such as selling personal details of their customers to third parties.
In order to reduce motor insurance costs, the report also recommended a cross-departmental ministerial committee. The Transport Select Committee chair, Louise Ellman, remarked that insurers find it difficult to challenge whiplash claims due to their highly subjective nature in regards to diagnosis and that whiplash claims are primary reason premiums were increasing (see whiplasclaim.org.uk).
Claim levels have doubled over the past decade as solicitors rake in the cash from the increased number of whiplash claims, the report said. Accounting for more than 7 out of every ten injury cases, whiplash claims have increased insurance premiums by 16.4 per cent in 2011, according to the committee.
Even though accident casualties on the road have fallen by one third over the past ten years, the number of claims made have ballooned by nearly double. Between 2000 and 2005, official figures say there were only 395,735 such claims every year, yet there were nearly 791,000 claims in 2011 alone.
The bar needs to be raised in regards to whiplash compensation cases, the report recommended, adding that legislative efforts may be needed if claims numbers do not undergo a significant decline therein.
A coalition of insurers and GPs have recently called for new governmental guidelines on the diagnosis of whiplash and other associated disorders in order to combat the personal injury compensation culture that has been growing in the UK.
The plea for action included a consensus document being developed at the coalition conference, which takes place in London today. Following the conference, the document will be submitted to the government and published.
Constructed by stakeholders and senior professors, the document is based on the most up to date guidelines and research by insurers and clinicians who have come to the conclusion that the current personal injury claims system is in need of improvement due to its susceptibility to fraud and abuse. GPs and insurers have many concerns in common, according to research studies that were commissioned in the lead up to the London seminar.
More than 47 per cent of GPs who habitually provide personal injury medical reports were found to believe that the system in its present state is geared towards encouraging whiplash diagnoses that lead to maximum financial gain. The research also discovered that 88 per cent of GPs do not believe that every claim needs to be labelled as whiplash, instead recommending the implementation of a new injury grading system, as three out of every four medical professionals reported that they felt the system in its current state is too susceptible to fraud.
Musculoskeletal expert, Dr Nick Kendall, who chaired the seminar, remarked that there is clearly something amiss with the current system, as there are reports of fewer road crashes and improved road safety, yet more than 1,600 whiplash claims are made on a daily basis.
After their whiplash compensation claim backfired, three scaffolders and their employer, who had filed a car accident claim in the wake of a 1 mph road shunt that had damaged their lorry and injured them, were slapped with a £9,ooo legal bill.
Employees from S&S Scaffolding in Atherton filed a personal injury claim after a bin wagon from Wigan Council collided with their flatbed lorry in Tyldesley in 2008. The accident resulted in £300 worth of vehicle damage to the scaffolding company’s lorry as well as £6,130 in lost earnings due to the time the lorry was off the road for repairs.
Three staff, Gareth and Thomas Gemmel of Great Lever, and James Stubbs of Daubhill, claimed that the rear shunt had given them whiplash injuries. The three workers requested £3,700 in personal injury compensation from Wigan Council for their injuries.
However, at a hearing at Bolton County Court, Judge Joanne Shaw threw the claim out in a stunning reversal. The claimants were instead ordered to pay £9,332 in legal costs to the council.
One spokesman for Wigan Council stated that more than £70,000 in legal bills had resulted from the proceedings. The council did indeed accept responsibility for the collision – however it adamantly refused to accept the legal costs, the claims for damage sustained to the vehicle or the claims of injuries on the parts of the three scaffolders.
The spokesperson added that Judge Shaw saw fit to rule that the traffic accident had not been the cause of any significant damage or any injuries at all. It was also stated that the judge dismissed more than £50,000 in legal fees.
For more information about whiplash, the success rates of compensation claims and the types of treatments available, see www.whiplashclaim.org.uk