Wigan is whiplash claim hotspot

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WIGAN has been identified as one of the region’s whiplash claims hot spots.

A survey has revealed that the North West is the capital for whiplash claims, with Wigan featuring prominently on the list.

In 2011, there were between 10 and 14 claims for whiplash per 1,000 people in Wigan - over 3,000 claims.

Liverpool topped the list with 18,500 claims with Bolton, seeing 6,500 claims.

The whiplash figures were obtained from the Department for Work and Pensions by Exane BNP Paribas, the investment group, under freedom of information legislation.

Insurers said they would like to challenge more claims but concerns about legal fees made them more likely to settle out of court. Ministers have pledged to cap the fees for personal injury claims.

Malcolm Tarling, of the Association of British Insurers, said: “This is the first time there has been a regional breakdown of where whiplash claims are being made. And there appears to be a striking correlation between whiplash victims and the number of lawyers specialising in personal injuries claims.

“Whiplash claims have gone up by a third in the past three years while the number of accidents has gone down.”

Whiplash is caused when the head moves suddenly, damaging ligaments and tendons in the neck – a common injury in a car accident.

One of the main problems with whiplash from the insurers’ perspective - and that of honest motorists - is that it does not display physical symptoms. This means it is extremely difficult to disprove someone’s claim that they are suffering severe neck and back pain.

Doctors have been criticised for diagnosing whiplash too readily. In Germany, two separate doctors must confirm the existence of whiplash for a claim to proceed.

But John Spencer, of personal injury specialist Spencer’s Solicitors, said: “There are some cases that are spurious and fraudulent and every professional legal firm wants to put a stop to that. But you have got to make sure that people who are injured are properly compensated.”