2021-03-31

Will whiplash become a thing of the past?

What a few weeks it’s been since the long awaited whiplash reforms finally gathered some momentum again. When the rules first landed in my inbox, I remember thinking finally we have some light at the end of the tunnel but that clarity was short-lived as we delved deeper into the rules, engaging with colleagues and clients alike to consider the potential areas of friction. That light became blurrier by the day with more and more “unknown unknowns” (see previous blog post here).

Hosting the recent webinars with my colleagues certainly gave us a snapshot of the questions keeping both sides of the industry awake at night. Over the two webinars and various client briefings, we received in excess of 100 questions with more continuing to be received each day.

One topic that crops up time and time again is other injuries (OIs) – what we will see; how will they impact the new Small Claims Protocol and the current RTA Protocol; and how will the courts deal with the assessment of damages in these hybrid claims?

I have been pondering over these OIs myself and do wonder if whiplash will become a thing of the past as greater emphasis is placed on OIs? When assessing an injury, the primary injury is often the starting point. A lot has happened since the whiplash reforms were first announced back in 2015 but, if we cast our minds back, there was a noticeable increase in OIs. We started seeing the appearance of tinnitus in more claims and a greater emphasis on non-whiplash injuries but, just as quickly tinnitus (and these OIs) appeared, the frequency began to reduce.

Will whiplash just become akin to minor injuries and not really be given much thought as we start to see the re-emergence of tinnitus, headaches, arm, leg, elbow complaints and injuries such as bruising taking centre stage in the claims of the new world?

Now that the whiplash reforms have a date for implementation, it is expected that OIs will become more prevalent within the low-value injury sector of the volume claims market and, in the words of my colleague Niall Edwards, “to jump claims out of” the Official Injury Claim portal.