Whiplash fraud was the talking point at the Liverpool Law Society Personal Injury conference, with firms from the surrounding region, including ourselves, in attendance.
One of the key speeches of the afternoon was delivered by former chairwoman of MASS, Donna Scully, who singled out the insurers for criticism over their stance towards pre-medical offers being made to accident victims, and called for the government to outlaw the practice for good.
Speaking to those in attendance, Ms Scully said: “The ABI have agreed to discourage the inappropriate use of pre-med offers, however, we believe that they should be abolished altogether.”
Pre-med offers weren’t the only thing to come under fire from Ms Scully, who also criticised the government for only listening to one side of the story when it came to fraudulent claims.
“Neither the insurers nor do us lawyers condone fraudulent claims, yet the Government insist on listening to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and the data they provide.”
“If the Government truly wants to tackle fraud, then they must consider data from both sides”
“Only when we have the full picture from both the insurers and the lawyers can we truly make strides forward in reducing fraudulent claims to subsequently bring down the high insurance premiums”
Prior to Ms Scully’s talk, the conference heard from the Matthew Maxwell Scott, founder member of Access to Justice, who provided the delegates with an update on the proposed Whiplash reforms reiterating Claimant firms commitment to stamping out fraudulent claims but he insisted that wholesale reform was simply not the answer. He alleged that the insurers had presented distorted figures to the Government in order to facilitate their agenda for reform.
“The definitions of fraud are wide in that someone who has been prosecuted of fraud falls in these figures but so is someone who is merely suspected of fraud. In the eyes of the insurers both are classed as fraud for that data, this skews results when giving these figures to the government.
Mr Maxwell-Scott went on to reveal that the real number of proven fraudulent whiplash claims was around 3% and on this basis questioned why the majority of genuine accident victims had to suffer to tackle the minority.
“Whilst the legal sector agrees that fraudulent claims must be stamped out, we do not believe that whiplash reforms are the answer as the introduction of a small claims limit basically hurts the genuine and innocent victims of road traffic accidents.”
He also talked about the motive behind the insurance sector’s clamour for further reform, suggesting it was largely based on protecting profit margins.
“Insurers used to simply pay out but with the recent financial crisis, they can no longer afford to so, which is the cause for the insurers’ fight back and why premiums have been increased.”
Attending the conference on behalf of Scott Rees & Co, was Partner Claire Campbell (pictured) who supported the views of both Mr Maxwell-Scott and Ms Scully.
“It is so important that as Claimant lawyers we do all that we can to assist in the ongoing campaigns against the proposed Whiplash reforms. APIL, MASS and Access to Justice need data from within our industry to show the Government how wrong the Insurance industry figures actually are. Here at Scott Rees & Co we are doing all we can to support the lobbying and the Conference today has reinforced the importance to us all of what we need to do to continue to represent and support our injured Clients in the future.”