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Warning

Insurers are rightly concerned about tinnitus and deafness claims becoming an increasing feature of low value RTA cases.

Perhaps in preparation for the introduction of the whiplash reforms, we saw a modest increase in the incidence of motor accidents giving rise to tinnitus or deafness complaints. This first became a problem in motor claims around three or four years ago, but the frequency then reduced. The prevalence of these injuries is expected to increase from those claimant firms and CMCs that stay in the low value, high volume claims market.

The incentive for these businesses to attain promotion from the OIC portal to the multi-track is huge. The Judicial College Guidelines has a range of £6,580 to £42,730 for tinnitus in terms of general damages alone. The costs of such a claim also go from potentially zero in the OIC for the whiplash injury to at least tens of thousands of pounds, with the additional tinnitus or deafness feature.

To arrest this development, for litigated cases, we have a streamlined workflow in Weightmans Motor which leverages the expertise of our colleagues in our market leading Industrial Disease Team. These handlers have a wealth of experience in challenging tinnitus and deafness claims in an employment setting, particularly in respect of diagnosis, causation and treatment and have a pre litigation repudiation rate of 70-80%. 

We expect that insurance handlers will have to deal with the presentation of such injuries on a much greater frequency over the next 12 months and therefore we have also developed a tinnitus and deafness verification product, where insurers and self-insureds can gain access to Weightmans’ lawyer expertise at the early stages of a claim and for a low cost. 

The short form report that is prepared will advise the insurer or self-insured on the headline approach to take on each claim. Advice will be presented in a traffic light format, making it clear which cases should be defended, those which have issues and require further enquiries and those which are capable of settlement within certain parameters. 

For those that opt to use this product, as well as upskilling their handlers directly through the interaction with the Weightmans’ disease specialists, you will access our broader training sessions. This will form part of a series of post-whiplash reform sessions that will focus specifically on claimant behaviours. With new entrants into the market, we anticipate new and more creative ways to use the new rules to maximise advantage and return.  

The tinnitus and deafness verification product and the training sessions will ensure that the genuine cases can be identified quickly and those that should be challenged can be dealt with robustly. It will assist with reserving accuracy and will reduce leakage and elapsed days.

We will collaborate with our clients to identify those who abuse the new process, be they law firms, CMCs, or experts. We will continue to focus on both the micro and macro avoidable expenses with a multi-disciplinary approach including our fraud and professional regulatory assets.

The Whiplash Reforms

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Whiplash reforms in place from 31 May 2021

The Ministry of Justice has finally published the suite of documents required to implement the long-awaited whiplash reforms.

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