UK Statistics for Personal Injury Claims


UK Statistics for Personal Injury Claims – Why Are They Rising and What Does it Prove?

The newspapers love to carry a dramatic headline. These could be ‘Shocking UK statistics for personal injury claims’ or ‘UK developing a claims culture’. Maybe ‘UK following in footsteps of US in rise of damages claims’ or perhaps UK whiplash claims cost Britons millions! When we read the newspapers, however, we know that there is often an untold side to the story. The rise of UK statistics for personal injury claims is no different. So let us take an objective view of these personal injury claims statistics for for a moment and ask ourselves, What do UK statistics showing personal injury claims on the increase actually prove?

Myths About Whiplash

The increase in personal injury claims is often blamed on just one type of injury – whiplash. But is this fair? Here are some of the common myths about whiplash:

1. Whiplash is a minor injury. Actually, part of the problem with diagnosing and treating whiplash is that it presents a variety of symptoms with a wide-range of severity. Some whiplash injuries are minor and temporary. But some whiplash sufferers will suffer life-long, life-limiting symptoms with no hope of a permanent cure.

2.  Whiplash can’t possibly be caused by many of the low speed ‘bumps’ that happen on congested city streets every day. Whiplash is more likely to occur in a low speed crash than any other injury. The reason behind this is both scientific and simple.

When you suffer a high speed crash, your car is designed to crumple and absorb the shock. You are also more likely to anticipate the collision and brace yourself. But in a low speed crash, your car shunts instead of absorbing the impact for you, so your body absorbs the shock. Your chest is held by your seat belt, so your neck takes the full force, whipping your head forward then back at high speed. Both the driver and any passengers are not likely to have seen it coming, so your body is unprepared for the impact.

3. Whiplash injuries are invented after the accident. One of the unique properties of whiplash is that symptoms do not always immediately become obvious. There can be a delay of several hours between the injury occurring and the symptoms becoming apparent. This helps to create the misunderstanding that a claimant can leave the scene of an accident apparently uninjured and then later ‘invent’ whiplash symptoms.

4. ‘Most whiplash claims are fake – they must be, because of the statistical rise in claims’. We assume that the rise in whiplash claims must mean that they are fake and that we are developing a claims culture. But think about the facts for a moment. The rise in claims centres in our main cities – London, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham. The big change in those cities is the level of congestion – many more cars travelling at low speed: perfect conditions for causing low speed collisions and whiplash injuries. So, is there not a cause and effect here? The facts are clear.

When we look at UK statistics on personal injury claims, we need to look at both sides of the story. Behind every statistic is a fact – but the reality that whiplash claims have risen cannot be taken as proof that people are claiming more readily or taking advantage of the claims system. Perhaps we need to look at the root cause – our ailing transport infrastructure and our questionable driving habits.
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