LEGAL EAGLE: Request a detailed explanation as to why insurer is paying out

Motor insurance claims for whiplash can be common.
Motor insurance claims for whiplash can be common.

I was in a car accident recently when I drove into the back of a car that was stationary on a red traffic light. The impact was really low speed – I was slowing down and had nearly come to a stop when I made a slight misjudgement and just about touched the bumper of the car in front of me. I accept the contact was my fault.

A claim has been made against me by the driver of the other car and his passengers who say they got whiplash because of the collision. My insurers say they want to settle the case because I do not have any witnesses. I am very surprised and annoyed about this. I did not have any passengers. I do not think anyone else saw the collision. But there was no damage to either car – there couldn’t have been; I hardly touched the other car.

Even low speed impacts can cause injury sometimes. But from what you say it does look unlikely that anyone could have got injured in this accident. Unfortunately people do sometimes make claims that seem unlikely and just as unfortunately road traffic insurance companies do sometimes pay out on cases when their policy holders – like you – would rather that they did not.

Sometimes it is unclear why insurance companies behave like this, particularly given that insurers often complain that too many bogus claims are made and many insurers are campaigning to get whiplash injury claims taken out of the legal process. Why don’t they use more the weapons they already have, some people ask.

For instance, for some years now it has been possible for insurers and others to defend claims on the basis that those bringing the claims are “fundamentally dishonest” about one or more aspects of the claim being brought.

You might want to ask your insurers whether or not they have thought of doing this in your case.

I suspect that your insurers may be influenced in defending the case by the following facts:

l The people in the other car are being witnesses for each other (backing each other up)

l You do not have a passenger who can support your version of events

l There appear to be no independent witnesses.

But you should not hesitate to request from your insurers a full and detailed explanation about why they are settling this case. And you should not hesitate either to make a complaint about the service from your insurers if you are not satisfied with the explanation you get.

Ben Hoare Bell LLP has specialist Personal Injury Solicitors that can offer advice in situations such as this. To speak to a solicitor call (0191) 565 3112 or email advice@benhoarebell.co.uk