Douglas Simon of Alcoholics Anonymous has heard quite enough talk, thank you very much. It’s time the politicians quit their jibber-jabber and got on with ‘sorting’ whiplash. Reform “cannot come soon enough,” he reiterated for the The Daily Telegraph.

The latest whiplash summit (at which various insurance types got another exclusive chance to bend the respective ears of Justice Man Ken Clarke and Transport Woman Justine Greebling, plus a sneak preview of HMG’s plans for ‘weeding out’ dodgy claims) had better be the “last talking shop”, Simon insisted.

“I hope,” he hoped, “that Wednesday’s announcement will see a tight timescale applied to reform of the civil litigation, which, at present, encourages people to make a claim regardless of how serious their injury is or even if they have not suffered injury at all.”

Simon said he was “disappointed in the slow rate of progress shown in the House of Commons Transport Committee’s latest report on motor insurance, published in April”, the Telegraph reported, which has allowed the “present dysfunctional system” to continue supporting “a fraudulent multi-million-pound ‘cash for crash’ industry.”

Ken Clarke said the proposed reforms would make it “quicker, cheaper and easier for valid injury claims to be dealt with through the small claims court” as well as consulting on the
feasibility of introducing independent medical panels, thereby potentially saving 29,000 hours of GPs’ time (see separate story) and creating a range of exciting opportunities in the independent medical panel sector overnight.

More ominously, perhaps, to insurers’ ears, Clarke also insisted that the government will “strongly encourage insurers to pass on the savings back to their customers”. So that will be the famous £90 per year we have heard so much about.

Karl Tonks of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers reckons everyone – and presumably Douglas Simon in particular – needs to calm down about timescales. “Before it announces a raft of propositions which risk barring genuinely injured people from bringing legitimate claims, the Government must have a wider debate about the real issues.” Tonks is concerned, apparently, that “in all the latest populist rhetoric about whiplash claims, everyone is being tarred with the same brush.” And, frankly, who would not want their own individual tar brush?

Ironically, it could yet turn out that whiplash claims could potentially be resolved without wasting the time of either GPs or independent medical panels if, as Tonks claims, insurers are increasingly “offering cash to claimants even before a report has been received from a doctor” in a bid to cut costs. However modest such settlements might be, Bankstone News suspects, this could end up providing something short of a unanimously satisfactory solution.


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