NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Eliminating Payments For Whiplash Lowers Claims, Speeds Recovery

August 3, 2000

A recent study considered how the availability of compensation for pain and suffering from whiplash injury affects the number of claims filed. In January 1995, Canada switched to a no-fault tort system, eliminating fault-based legal actions for traffic injuries including compensation for pain and suffering.

By eliminating payments for pain and suffering, the number of court actions decreased, there were fewer claims for whiplash injuries and those who did file claims for whiplash recovered faster.

Among the study's findings:

  • The number of claims fell from 417 to 296 per 100,000 persons during the first year -- a decease of about 28 percent despite an increase in both the number of traffic accidents and the number of miles traveled.
  • About 43 percent fewer men and 15 percent fewer women filed claims, but the highest reduction in claims was among 18 to 29 year-olds.
  • The number of days from injury to resolution of the claims fell from an average of 433 days to 194 days, a decrease of over 50 percent.

The shorter time of injury also brought lower levels of pain, higher levels of physical activity, and the absence of depression.

Source: J. David Cassidy, et al., "Effect of Eliminating Compensation for Pain and Suffering on the Outcome of Insurance Claims for Whiplash Injury," New England Journal of Medicine, April 20, 2000.


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