Orso L. Osti, Richard T. Gun, George Abraham, Nicole L. Pratt, Goran Eckerwall, Hiroaki Nakamura

May 2004, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 90 - 94 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-004-0711-7

First Online: 25 May 2004

A retrospective analysis of insurance data was made of 600 individuals claiming compensation for whiplash following motor vehicle accidents. Three hundred randomly selected claimants who had settled their injury claims within 9 months of the accident were compared with 300 who had settled more than 24 months after the accident. We compared the two groups to identify possible risk factors for prolonged recovery, for which settlement time greater than 24 months was a marker. Variables considered included demographic factors, type of collision, degree of vehicle damage, workers compensation, prior claim or neck disability, treatment and time to settlement. Consulting a solicitor was associated with a highly significant, four-fold increase of late settlement of the claim. A concurrent workers’ compensation claim, prior neck disability and undergoing physiotherapy or chiropractic treatment were weakly associated with late settlement. The degree of damage to the vehicle (as indicated by cost of repairs) was not a significant predictor of late settlement. Late settlement may be the direct effect of legal intervention, independent of the severity of the injury. Whilst the financial benefit to the claimant of consulting a solicitor is apparent, the benefit of prolonged disability is not. It may be to the advantage of both insurers and claimants if those likely to proceed to late settlement could be recognised early and their claims settled expeditiously.

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