Thursday 08 November 2012 by John Hyde
Whiplash claimants or their solicitors should be forced to sign a written statement of truth and be prosecuted for fraud if they breach it, personal injury lawyers have proposed in a plan to head off parliamentary criticism.
The signed commitment is one element of a 10-point plan drawn up by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and taken to parliament today.
APIL also wants insurers to be banned from making offers of compensation before a medical report has been seen, as well as free exchanges of information between the RTA Portal and Insurance Fraud Bureau.
The association's president Karl Tonks will speak at a House of Commons reception today to set out ways in which all sides can work to cut down dishonest claims.
'The people who suffer these injuries are genuine,' he will say. 'Honest claimants are not the problem - the problem is fraud, and fraud must be tackled by all sides working together.'
APIL's plan suggests either the claimant or the solicitor should have to sign the statement of truth to confirm they understand their commitment.
It also recommends that rules governing the conduct of solicitors, insurers and claims management companies should be amended and standardised to prevent offers of gifts or cash inducements for potential clients.
Any party who instructs an expert should have to give the names of that expert to the other side beforehand, whilst the claimant's solicitors should organise access to relevant medical records where a medical expert is to be instructed.
Medical organisations should also be drafted in to develop guidance to help experts understand whiplash claims.
Tonks will use the reception to highlight APIL research that said 80% of whiplash sufferers currently report their symptoms accurately or underplay them.
He will reject the notion of a whiplash 'epidemic' and point to the government's figures which show that whiplash-related claims fell by almost 24,000 in the past 12 months.