Lawmakers in England are moving forward on a bill that would limit compensation for whiplash injuries. While the bill would likely lower car insurance costs, it would leave many people without the compensation they need to recover from the personal injuries they suffer in a car accident.
If the bill passes in England, lawmakers here in the United States might consider something similar.
England Looks to Limit Whiplash Recovery
Just like in the United States, car accidents in England can lead to whiplash injuries. Unfortunately, these injuries are just as tricky to diagnose across the pond as they are, here. The result has been similar: Many people suffer severely debilitating symptoms that can make their lives difficult, but have trouble convincing courts that they’ve been hurt.
Those that do, though, stand to get compensated for their injuries. The result has been a lack of uniformity in how people get treated after a car accident that gives them whiplash.
Now, the British government is trying to reform how people get compensated for whiplash injuries. Unfortunately, the way they’re looking to reform the law is by fixing the amount people could recover. This would strip car accident victims of the ability to get much of anything for a whiplash injury.
Reform Would Fix Whiplash Recovery Amount
One of the key points behind the reform bill is to fix the amount of pain and suffering compensation available for certain whiplash injuries. The fixed amount, however, is a pittance. For whiplash injuries that show symptoms for less than three months, victims could only stand to gain up to £225, or about $275. The pain and suffering of debilitating whiplash injuries that last two years would only be compensated with up to £3,725, or $4,600.
Insurance Companies Love the Reform
The biggest backers of the proposed reform are insurance companies. Whiplash injuries are difficult to diagnose, so insurance companies paint victims who claim them as dishonest. According to David Williams, a technical director at AXA Insurance, “being able to claim thousands of pounds for minor whiplash injuries that are almost impossible to verify is absolutely ludicrous.”
Insurance companies are spinning the reform as a way to save “honest motorists” some money in car insurance premiums. This benefit, though, would come at the expense of accident victims.
“The government seems hell bent on removing the rights of ordinary people to gain redress for injuries that weren’t their fault,” said Andrew Twambley, the spokesperson for Access 2 Justice.
Whether the money withheld from victims would make its way to “honest motorists,” though, is debatable. According to Twambley, insurance companies “will themselves be pocketing any savings made, for themselves and their shareholders.”
St. Joseph Car Accident Attorneys at the Smith Law Office
Reform bills like these are dangerous. The personal injury process exists for people to formally claim they were hurt, and then to prove their injuries. Dictating how much can be recovered in this process is an intervention that prevents justice from being served.