Tuesday, 14 February 2012
No, not that kind of whiplash.
According to an item in this evening's TV news, Britain is the whiplash centre of the world. We have apparently cornered the market in insurance claims for whiplash injuries - many of them spurious.
We, the tax-payers are, according to this news item, paying through the nose in order that claims for 'fake' neck injuries may be compensated for generously.
It was said that proving the claims are fake is almost impossible and that companies are paying out massive sums on a huge scale.
Now it just so happens that I actually had a real, genuine, not made-up whiplash injury back in 1972.
It was Christmas Eve, John and I had each left our respective offices at mid-day, work finished until after the Christmas break and were driving back home to our flat in Putney. The traffic was very heavy and progress very slow, stop start type of thing.
We were almost home when once again the traffic came to a stop, nothing was moving ahead so we put our brakes on waited. As we stopped, there was an almighty bang behind us, we were pushed forward into a mini in front, my head hit the windscreen by which time, John was already out of the car and running onto a garage forecourt on our left, yelling at me to "get his number".
Dazed and not too sure what was going on I realised that the car which had hit us was revving wildly and as I slowly realized that the mini driver was getting out and coming towards me, the rogue vehicle shot round us and hared off as the road had now cleared.
The mini driver only then realised that we had been pushed into his car and that we had no choice in the matter.
Luckily a woman with a couple of teenagers in tow, came over to me and said "I got his number" and "if you need me I will talk to the police."
The short version is that he was caught by the police on Putney Bridge where he had broken down, his radiator was leaking.
We gave our statements and so did the witness and the mini driver, and eventually the man was convicted of drink-driving, failing to stop after an accident etc etc.
He was jailed, lost his licence and I would imagine, his job too. (it turned out, he was a vehicle examiner for London Transport and was about four times over the limit, having just come from a party.
Our car - company car - was a write-off, John was angry but unhurt and I wore a collar for about 3 weeks then forgot about it except for whenever I was in a draught getting neck ache for years after.
Oh yes,and it ruined our Christmas. We had been taking my brother and his wife up to my parents in East Anglia to spend Christmas, instead of which my father had to come down to us and collect all four of us, crammed into his not-very-big Ford, and drive the round trip, late on Christmas Eve.
That was forty years ago, and it would never have occurred to me to make a claim, though I still get a stiff neck when exposed to draughts.
Different days, different ways.