Plans unveiled over whiplash claims
The Government is to unveil plans to reduce the huge number of whiplash claims which have been pushing up insurance premiums.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling will launch a consultation on creating new independent medical panels to improve diagnosis of whiplash injuries.
This aims to ensure that genuine claims can still go ahead, but exaggerated, misrepresented or fraudulent claims are robustly challenged.
It will also consult on options to allow more whiplash cases to be challenged in the small claims court and to change the current position where it can be cheaper for insurance companies to accept questionable claims than to contest them.
"For too long honest drivers have been bearing the price of a system that has been open to abuse and it is time for that to change," Mr Grayling said.
"We are proposing action to support effective whiplash diagnosis by medical experts and to simplify procedures which will help bring speculative or fraudulent claims before a judge - so genuine claims can still be settled but fraudsters are left in no doubt there will be no more easy pay days."
The Government said it has taken action after figures showed there had been a 60% rise in personal injury claims related to road accidents since 2006, despite vehicles becoming safer, and a 20% reduction in the number of reported accidents over the same period.
It estimated that whiplash claims cost £2 billion in 2010 or £90 per policy.
This is the latest stage of a series of significant civil justice reforms by the Government, designed to reduce legal costs and stop the growth of compensation culture in England and Wales.
The consultation complements law changes which will come into effect in April 2013. They will include rebalancing no-win no-fee deals so losing defendants will no longer have to pay a success fee or legal insurance premium to the claimant's lawyer.