There has been satisfaction expressed at the Government's intention to abolish referral fees paid by solicitors' firms to obtain details of people who have suffered loss or injury in an accident - usually on the roads. Phrases such as 'ambulance-chasing' and 'so-called whiplash' have been bandied about.
There is no doubt that there have been abuses: I recall several men being imprisoned for deliberately setting up rear-end collisions then claiming damages for whiplash, the symptoms of which they had taken the trouble to learn. One unfortunate side effect of that is a general public cynicism about whiplash injuries.
I know a bit about this because I have been helping a relative who was the blameless victim of a collision with a vehicle that emerged from a side road, and she has indeed suffered genuine whiplash that has been confirmed by five different doctors, two of them orthopaedic consultants. For two years she was in pain, unable to do simple tasks like vacuuming her home, and has had to rely on help from her sister and daughters. The other side accepted liability quite early on, so the only issue now is the level of damages. This is likely to settle for a sum well under £10,000 which doesn't seem in any way excessive for what now amounts to three years' pain and restriction on her activities. So the next time that someone in the pub taps his nose knowingly when the word whiplash is mentioned he may get a quick rundown from me to the effect that genuine cases do indeed happen.
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