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10 November 2013 / legal-blog
A blog article by Jonathan White
During Thursday's whiplash debate in the House of Commons, The Transport Select Committee leader Louise Ellman MP indicated that she is “disturbed” to find that insurers often offer to settle claims before medical evidence is provided. Why is she so disturbed? Is this down to the theory which says that settlements made in the absence of medical evidence are more likely to be fraudulent, or is she concerned about genuine accident victims being bought off for a pittance without any advice about their claim?
Settlements made within a couple days of an accident are nothing new and are based on a complex numbers game. What’s worse for an insurer – settling some claims which aren’t genuine or having to pay four times your initial offer to a represented claimant?
I’ve always believed that accident victims should be properly advised and have their injured properly assessed by an independent medical expert. Not least the claimant I once advised who had a moderate brain injury, multiple fractures and was on morphine when the insurance company visited him in hospital to buy off his claim. It’s because of those situations that National Accident Helpline tried to get third party capture banned during the passage of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders bill.
So should Louise Ellman be disturbed about pre-medical offers because they don’t weed out fraudulent claims or because they prevent genuine accident victims from receiving proper compensation? The answer is both – but sadly in this debate issues around fraud and motor premiums seemingly take precedence over the needs of accident victims. Any reforms around medical evidence need to have the injured consumer at their heart rather than serving the interests of the insurance industry.
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