Insurer ire with injury lawyers could harm claimants

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 5 Nov 2013:

It’s no surprise that the insurance industry is at the throat of injury lawyers, but insurers’ reticence to pay their legal bills could affect the innocent.

Whiplash injury claims are expensive cases to bring right now. Luckily, claimants don’t have to worry about these costs since most lawyers operate on a conditional, no win no fee basis, which is integral for helping an injured person preserve their cash reserves if they’re unable to work, but insurers absolutely hate paying out on whiplash claims – and just this week if was revealed that legal fees and court costs per whiplash injury claim amounts to about £2,500 per case on average.

These fees are unbearable, so say the insurance industry, which lobbied heavily for legal reforms to be enacted a few years ago. Of course that new legislation has done absolutely nothing to curb costs – in fact the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries said that these costs have gone up by 15 per cent over the past three years. Will the new Legal Aid bill that was signed into law on 1 April of this year make more of a difference? Maybe, but the jury is still out on that one.

Now if you ask me, the focus is being placed in the wrong area when it comes to controlling costs. Yes insurers are paying out on these legal claims, but that’s their job – they collect a little bit of cash from everyone so they can pay out in the event of an accident occurring. You know if there was even half as much effort put forward to discourage spurious whiplash claims as the insurance industry spends in trying to rob personal injury solicitors from the legal fees they earn, maybe we wouldn’t have as much of a problem – and perhaps we can put an end to terrible legislation that does nothing but reduce access to justice for the legitimately injured.

Towards that end the Government is trying something new: this week it was made known that independent medical panels are going to be used soon to make determinations as to whether claimants are actually suffering from whiplash or not. Good luck on that – it’s not exactly easy to categorise right now. Maybe the Government uses smarter doctors than the rest of the country, but I doubt they’ll make any determinations different than your run of the mill GP.

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