Solicitors, trade unionists and victims have lashed out at the insurance industry for attacking drivers suffering from whiplash as ‘fakes and fraudsters’.
The Association of British Insurers branded the UK the whiplash capital of Europe and said the cost of fraudulent whiplash claims was pushing up the cost of motor insurance.
Patrick Maguire a partner in Thompsons Solicitors, Scotland’s leading personal injury specialist lawyers said: “The Insurance industry has a real brass neck in attacking accident victims when all they are doing is making legitimate claims.
“Time and time again insurers operate double standards, encouraging people to take out policies, happily taking their premiums and then doing everything in their power to reduce claims when things go wrong.
“We see it all the time in industrial injury cases like asbestos related pleural plaques, where they are fighting through the courts for years to try and avoid their obligation to respect victims’ claims.
“Now they are having a go at whiplash victims for no other reason that it is one of the commonest causes of injury in road traffic accidents.
"They've failed in the courts, because the victims have a right to be justly compensated, and now they've resorted to 'spin' putting stories that are factually distorted, in the vain hope that this will embarass or bounce people into not exercisng the right that they have to compensation.
"It is reprehensible.
“It’s not the victims who are pains in the neck it’s the Association of British Insurers.
"If an insurer doesn't think that they are making big enough profits they shouldn't complain about people exercising their rights - they should get out of the insurance Market."
One of Thompson clients, Pauline, a specialist nurse from Edinburgh, still suffers neck pain from a whiplash injury more than two years after car which had been tail-gating her ploughed into her car in traffic.
Pauline said: “I was so angry when I saw what the insurance companies were saying. It’s the usual, tarring everyone with the same brush and no recognition of the pain and suffering of genuine victims.
“The insurers are totally complicit in this. They don’t just sell you basic cover, they are always trying to sell you extras like legal cover and now they are branding people as cheats when they take advantage of that cover.”
She added: “It’s incredible how whiplash impacts on so many aspects of your life.
“I think I’m fine then I do something simply like reaching up to clean curtains or drag my suitcase through the airport and my neck flares up and I’m in agony for days.”
Dave Moxham Deputy General Secretary of the STUC said: “We see a real pattern emerging where our members very often have to fight all the way to the courts to get their claims honoured.
“We have no doubt that the insurance industry actively promotes the myth of the so-called ‘compensation culture’ in this country, simply to try and reduce the number of claims they have to pay.