Am I li­able for old whiplash claim?

Burton Mail - - Cashing In -

QI WAS in a car crash over five years ago. It was low speed, seem­ingly body­work only. I told the in­surer the other car was on the wrong side of the road but it ig­nored me. I didn’t claim on our in­sur­ance – the car’s old, and would have been writ­ten off so we got sec­ond hand parts and a lo­cal re­pair per­son (£350 against a quoted £2,800).

I thought this was well in the past. But I’ve just had a let­ter from lawyers warn­ing me the other driver is claim­ing over £10,000 for whiplash and she might sue me per­son­ally.

What does this mean? How can some­one dis­cover whiplash so long af­ter­wards? Jes­sica H

A

WHIPLASH claims con­tinue to be a prob­lem for mo­tor in­sur­ers – those “have you had an in­jury” cold calls mak­ing mat­ters worse. Typ­i­cal mo­torists pay around £70 a year more to fund whiplash. Claim­ing has be­come harder but as your ac­ci­dent hap­pened in 2013, it’s not cov­ered by even tougher rules due this April.

For claims man­age­ment com­pa­nies, whiplash is an easy win. It’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to prove some­one is not suf­fer­ing. For those who gen­uinely have it, it is painful. It usu­ally hap­pens when some­one is shunted from be­hind (hence all those crash for cash scams where fraud­sters undo brake lights so some­one hits them at a junc­tion) but you hit the other car on the front pas­sen­ger door so whiplash is far less likely. It should not take five years to show but the law al­lows six years for claims.

A few in­sur­ers take tough at­ti­tudes but many reckon it is cheaper to roll over and pay than fight ex­pen­sive le­gal ac­tions which they could lose. Typ­i­cal claims are for £3,000 – court and lawyer costs could be more.

This let­ter comes from lawyers act­ing for your in­surer at the time of the crash, not your present one. It is to warn you what might hap­pen but also to re­as­sure you that your cover re­mains in force so any pay­ment stays with your in­surer. Some lawyers and claims man­age­ment com­pa­nies be­lieve putting pres­sure on driv­ers with threats to sue per­son­ally in­creases the chances of suc­cess.

Whether to fight or not is up to the in­surer – not you. Your let­ter is in­tended to pre­vent worry if you are sued per­son­ally. Claims com­pa­nies know in­sur­ers have plenty of money and you don’t.

Send your ques­tiones to con­sumer com­[email protected]

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