Whiplash after a crash? Don’t always take the cash!
A car crash can be pretty traumatic. But what if it wasn’t your fault, and the other party’s insurer not only acknowledges this, but offers you a pay-out for any injuries you’ve suffered? It’s not always the good deal it seems…
Consider this: you’re idling at a red light when another car smacks into the back of you. You exchange details with the driver and then contact your insurer.
Sometime later, you get a knock at your door or a phone call – it’s the other party’s insurer. They tell you that their customer admits responsibility for the collision, but they just want to make sure you’re OK. They ask whether you’ve experienced any neck pain, headaches, and so on. You have, and say yes, and they offer to give you £500 for your injury.
Check before you take the cheque
Sounds good, right? You get a quick and effective service, and a cheque for £500 just like that. Well, maybe not. You could just have a tension headache brought on by the stress of the situation, in which case £500 seems like a fair result. But what if there’s more to it than that?
You might actually have a lasting medical problem, as the injury you suffer could be whiplash, perhaps even intensifying an existing condition such as osteoporosis. In these cases, the long-term effects of the collision could be severe and you could be entitled to more compensation.
A cheque for £500, say, may appear to be a fair pay-out. But by accepting it, you’re probably also obliged to sign a waiver for any further claims for medical compensation. And there’s no way that you, let alone the insurer, can possibly know what damage has been done (short of a broken limb) without a medical assessment.
Ban the practice
In these cases, I don’t believe the other party’s insurer is acting in your best interests. I reckon that if one in ten car insurance claimants have grounds for a medical claim, those claimants could probably get far more than £500. The insurers know this, so slamming the lid on any claim at around £500 makes good economic sense when compared to a £10,000 payout for neck damage, for instance.
I doubt the insurance sector will agree, but I think this practice should be outlawed. I think that anyone who is on the receiving end of a road traffic accident should be encouraged to seek independent medical and legal advice before agreeing to a pay-out from another person’s insurer. If not, the gratification of a quick few quid could haunt injured parties for years to come.
Have you been involved in a traffic accident recently which led to an offer of compensation you didn’t ask for? If so, were you asked to sign a waiver to forgo your right to claim further compensation?
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