Allianz Cornhill seeks support in a bid to open discussion on pay-outs.

A fixed scale of damages should be developed for whiplash claims, according to Allianz Cornhill.

The proposal would see damages for whiplash injuries being determined according to a fixed scale of awards that increase with the seriousness of the injury.

A similar fixed scale system is already in use, and has worked successfully, for deafness claims and claims by miners for respiratory diseases.

Allianz Cornhill will be looking to gather support from other insurers, and the legal and medical professions. It expects to publish a position paper shortly that will provide the basis for discussion.

Allianz Cornhill technical claims manager Bob Rabbits said: "Given how routine whiplash claims are it would be a small step forward to set up a fixed damages scheme. It would reduce the work of both insurers and lawyers - and as lawyers are now working to fixed costs on small value motor claims, they would want to minimise their work."

About 80% of all injury claims (including non-motor claims) relate to whiplash injuries.

Law firm Hugh James partner Hugh Price said: "Previous schemes have worked. It wouldn't be beyond the wit of man to do a similar thing with whiplash claims. It is a sensible step, but would need the cooperation of claimants."

But claimant solicitors have expressed the need for caution over such a scheme.

Thompsons Solicitors partner Gavin Roberts said: "One needs to look carefully at how the scheme is formulated. A scheme for whiplash injuries would be far more difficult to put together than one for deafness or respiratory disease as the damage is not quantifiable.

"In the case of whiplash claims, the injury can deteriorate or the position may change.

"I would be cautious about a fixed damages scheme for these injuries and would need to be convinced of its merits."

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