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Blame Culture Leads to Surge in Attempted False Claims

Press release: 09/12/2010

  • Six in ten (60%) doctors report a rise in patients exaggerating injuries to try and claim compensation over the past two years.
  • One in six (17%) personal injury claimants attempt to make a claim directly as a result of seeing marketing by personal injury lawyers.

The medical profession has seen a surge in the number of people attempting to unfairly claim compensation from exaggerated or invented injuries over the past two years, fuelled by a growing personal injury advertising and marketing industry.

Research conducted among GPs for car insurer LV= has revealed that over nine in ten (93%) GPs have seen a patient in the past two years who they thought was exaggerating their injuries in order to try to make a compensation claim – and 79% said they had seen someone they suspected was making the injury up entirely.

Part of the rise appears to be driven by advertising by personal injury lawyers, with close to a fifth (17%) of personal injury claimants admitting they decided to try and make a claim as a direct result of seeing advertising.

Since January 2009, personal injury lawyers have spent over £80 million on advertising [1] , with more than six in ten (63%) Brits saying they had noticed an increase in marketing from personal injury lawyers in the last couple of years. Although personal injury lawyers offer a ‘no win, no fee service’ to consumers, they charge the company they are claiming from fees, impacting on insurance premiums - for every £1 insurers pay in compensation, an extra 87 pence is paid out in legal costs [2].

Dealing with personal injury claims costs the NHS £8 million in consultation fees every year, as anyone attempting to make a claim will need to have their injuries confirmed by a GP {3}.

Common marketing tactics by claims firms include unsolicited text messages and purchasing accident victim details from the emergency services, so they can then contact them to encourage them to make a claim.

The Government has been investigating the way personal injury lawyers operate and Lord Young, the prime minister’s adviser on health and safety law, has called for restrictions on advertising and a revolution in the way these firms currently operate.

Whiplash is the most frequently attempted personal injury fraud, with over nine in ten (92%) GPs citing this as the most commonly exaggerated injury they encounter.

As a result of this trend, nearly half of doctors (46%) are now likely to further scrutinise patients over their injury claims and four in ten (39%) doctors said they have refused to write a letter or sign a medical form for a personal injury claim.

When asked to identify why people are likely to invent or exaggerate their injuries, almost all (94%) GPs cited compensation claims as a reason, with society’s ‘blame culture’ (56%) and attempts to get time off work or education (56%) also common factors.

Whiplash compensation claims have a significant impact on car insurance costs, and LV= estimates that 50% of car insurance costs are attributable to personal injury costs {4}. LV= is working closely with the medical profession and the wider insurance industry to ensure that legitimate claims are supported whilst weeding out and stamping down on any false claims.

Martin Milliner, director of technical claims at LV=, said: “Clearly anyone who has a genuine injury as a result of an accident that wasn’t their fault, and loses out or can’t work as a result of it, is entitled to compensation. However anyone trying to get money for an injury that doesn’t exist is not only breaking the law but also wasting valuable NHS time and resources.”


Notes:

LV= is a registered trademark of Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society Limited (LVFS) and a trading style of the Liverpool Victoria group of companies.

LV= employs around 4,000 people, serves over 4million customers and members, and manages around £7.9bn (as at 30 September 2010) on their behalf, via LV= Asset Management (LVAM). We are also the UK’s largest friendly society and a leading mutual financial services provider.

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF. www.LV.com.

About the research

Research among GPs (unless marked otherwise) was conducted by research agency PCP, member of the Market Research Society. PCP questioned a sample of 250 GPs between 10 - 17 November about their experiences of personal injury claims.

All other research unless otherwise referenced was conducted by Opinium. Opinium conducted research online among a representative sample of 2013 UK adults between 9 - 12 November 2010.


[1] Neilson report into marketing by personal injury lawyer sector. From January 09 to December 10
[2] Statistics applicable to for road accident personal injury claims valued at under £5,000
[3] http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/newsroom/news_releases/2010/101015-young.aspx
[4] LV= data