Tag: Accident Investigation

The Transport Committee released its fourth report today into the cost of motor insurance: whiplash. Here, head of research at GBB and Chartered Engineer, Philip Hoyes discusses some of the issues arising out of the report.

A Bachelor of Automobile Engineering and published author in LVI occupant kinematics, Philip has experience in the investigation, analysis and reconstruction of vehicle incidents. A qualified Collision Investigator, he regularly examines motor vehicles with respect to consistency of alleged accident damage, occupant kinematics and component failure.

General Observations

The fourth report of The Transport Select Committee has been relatively well received and it has been interesting today to see the reaction from The ABI, MASS, FOIL and many other interested onlookers.

Medical evidence has been awarded a typically high priority compared with research-based, objective engineering evidence.

The collision is the causal event that may lead to an injury – the effect. In determining the likelihood of soft tissue injury, too much emphasis is placed on medical evidence which deals only with the effect and not with the cause, i.e. the collision.

Medical reports typically base their conclusions on an understanding of the impact mechanics as described to them by the Claimants but the fact is that in most cases the impact mechanics and specifics of the circumstances are in dispute.

Medical opinion might be reserved until expert opinion is sought clarifying the most likely version of events (which includes classifying the collision type – collinear or glancing for example) and clarifying the likely impact severity based on damage.

When determining the validity of a whiplash claim, scientific, research-based engineering evidence is at least as important than the evidence provided by a medical expert.

Specific Observations

Section:  Low-Velocity Impacts Para. 16

Andrew Miller, Director of Research at Thatcham, drew attention to experience in Germany in the 1990s where claims for whiplash only progressed to medical assessment if the accident happened at a speed of at least 10 km/ph (6.25 mph). He argued that if the Government wished to adopt a similar approach it would be possible to derive from biomechanical evidence a speed of impact below which injury was very unlikely.

This quote highlights the necessity of engineering guidance.

The German approach involved speed changes of 10km/h.

Speed changes are not the same thing as impact speeds, but the two are often confused.

Speed changes are affected by factors such as collision speed, vehicle mass and impact dynamics: all of which require accurate, research-based scientific analysis.

This is precisely the analysis GBB researches and conducts on a regular basis.

Section:  Low-Velocity Impacts Para. 17

Andrew Ritchie QC said “there are many medical papers to show that four to five miles an hour is about the threshold” for whiplash injury to occur but argued that women and older people are more likely than men and younger people to suffer injury during low-speed impacts. In his view, there was a danger that “if you introduce a threshold, what you are really doing is excluding the vulnerable from their right to claim.

Reasonable thresholds must exist and whilst the issue of actual injury is beyond the remit of the engineer, GBB takes an approach focussed upon the speed change of the vehicle and the acceleration of its occupants. That is to study the mechanism which might lead to injury and develop thresholds based upon acceleration.

This vital piece of evidence should be available to anyone wishing to validate a whiplash-type injury.

 Section:  Conclusions Para. 63

Although it may make economic sense for an individual insurance firm to settle a claim without medical evidence or to pay out even if fraud or exaggeration is suspected, the industry as a whole is damaged, and motorists pick up the bill in the form of higher premiums. Insurers must immediately put their house in order and end practices which encourage fraud and exaggeration. If not, the Government should take steps to protect motorists.

I sympathise with insurers for the external pressure placed upon them. On one hand reforms in the MOJ guidelines limit the time they have to respond to a claim whilst on the other the Government’s report calls for insurers to investigate wherever fraud or exaggeration is suspected.

Without a reliable method for testing the validity of a claim, insurers can be left between the devil and the deep blue sea.

A viable solution is the File Appraisal Scheme operated by GBB.

For a fixed, low cost GBB can provide expert, research-based opinion on the quality of the available evidence, plus a preliminary guidance on vehicle and occupant kinematics which allows the client to make informed decisions without compromising the legislative deadlines put upon them.

For more information in relation to anything featured within this article, please contact us. 

GBB would like to welcome Shaun Woods who joins us today in the role of Group Business Development Director.

Shaun has worked in the Investigation Service Industry for over 20 years and has a wealth of knowledge and experience in all aspects of Financial Crime.

Shaun who is well known for his work with The Cotswold Group had total responsibility for the development and provision of a Nationwide Investigation Service through a substantial field force and case manager structure underpinned by a pro active intelligence team. At GBB he will be responsible for business development with a particular focus on customer relations.

For the past 14 years he has held the post of Director of Investigation Services at The Cotswold Group  the market leader in the UK General Insurance Investigation arena.

GBB Operations Director Matthew Stansfield commented “I am delighted that somebody of Shaun’s calibre and standing within the claims services industry is joining our team. Shaun has a proven track record of success and I am looking forward to working closely with him as we develop our services across both GBB and Banwells“.

GBB director, Paul Filder is to speak at the Shakespeares Motor Claims Day on Thursday 23rd May 2013 at De Vere Venues Colmore Gate Birmingham. The day will bring together a variety of speakers from varying backgrounds who will cover the following topics:

• Post Jackson – where are we?
• MIB claims and article 75
• Beating the fraudsters
• The Ogden Tables – do they mean what they say?
• RTAs and forensic evidence
• ULR and recoveries


Paul will provide an informative talk including real examples and crash test video about detailing benefits of forensic engineering evidence and also the pitfalls and common mistakes that are made by practitioners when considering vehicle damage.


GBB’s newest recruit Dr Rick Ellwood joined us on 8th April and after initial training is now busy inspecting vehicles.

Rick joins GBB from the Roads Policing/Collision Investigation department of Gwent Police after previously being a Research Engineer with steel manufacturer Corus in South Wales.
A Bachelor of Integrated Engineering With Automotive Studies Richard gained his engineering doctorate in the Fatigue Performance of Downgauged High Strength Steel Automotive Suspension Components.
Rick will operate in the south from his home in Newport, South Wales.


GBB Managing Director Brian Henderson is to present at the MASS Training 2013 Fraud Conference.  The event is described as the “definitive claimant solicitor guide to fraud issues” with advice from first client meeting through to litigation.

The event will see presentations from solicitors, barristers, accident investigators, medical experts and even a defendant perspective too.

Brian will join the following list of speakers:-

Craig Budsworth  – MASS

David Teanby – Consultant Trauma & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Donald Fowler – MD of Premex Services

James Heath – Director of Counter Fraud Strategy at Keoghs

Paul Kimber – Partner at Amelans

Alan Nesbit – Managing Partner at Nesbit Law Group LLP

Ian Skeate, Christopher Austins, Deborah Tompkinson & Jeremy Dable – Clerksroom

The event takes place at Hilton Deansgate, Manchester on 17th April 2013 and will provide 6 CPD hours.

A delegate place costs £250 with proceeds being donated to chosen charity Headway Somerset (registered charity 1097407)

Space is limited and bookings can be made in the following ways:

Online: MASS Training

Email: [email protected]

Telephone: 0117 9259612



GBB expert Russell Danton has been asked to be a guest speaker at the forthcoming IFIG quarterly meeting at the Raddison Blu Hotel in Liverpool on Wednesday 6th March 2013.

The event, sponsored by Weightmans LLP will see Russell present a talk detailing his developing role as a forensic collision investigator within the GBB team and the use of GBB’s ongoing research in supporting his professional opinion.

This event kicks off a busy schedule of seminar attendances by the GBB team with more details posted on-line soon.

GBB will feature on the BBC televisions Claimed and Shamed, a documentary series that casts a covert eye over the ever-growing problem of insurance fraud.

GBB were asked to contribute after they examined a BMW that had been deliberately set on fire.

Claimed and Shamed will air on BBC 1 each weekday for a fortnight from 15th October 2012.

GBB Managing Director Brian Henderson has been awarded a Master of Science Degree (MSc) in the field of forensic science.

Brian’s thesis, entitled A Retrospective Study in understanding ‘Low Speed Change’ Vehicle Collisions, Occupant Movement and Likelihood of Injury is a synthesis of many years of investigation and original research all of which has been self-funded. The award of an MSc to Brian from a University that has a world-wide reputation in the field of Forensic Science asserts GBB’s credibility as a company that is at the forefront of collision investigation and research.

Low speed collisions and in particular whiplash associated disorder continue to be a major talking point in the UK with the Government and the insurance industry actively looking to tackle the issue. 

The most recent ABI statistics in relation to whiplash claims (published in 2008) state:-

  • 430,000+ people claimed for whiplash in 2007, up by 1/4 in the last five years. Cost nearly £2 billion a year in compensation.
  • Whiplash injuries now cost the NHS approximately £8 million a year in consultation fees.
  • UK is the whiplash capital of Europe: 75% of motor personal injury claims for whiplash, compared to an average of 40% throughout the rest of Europe.
  • Many drivers and passengers are at risk: 75% of drivers are unaware how head restraints should be correctly positioned.

At GBB, we believe that first-hand research is essential for knowledge and understanding of all aspects of road traffic accident investigation and further investment in research and joint projects with academic institutions are planned in the near future.


GBB are exhibiting at The Solicitors Group Flagship Event, Law 2012, The Gallery, NEC, Birmingham on 9th & 10th October 2012

Law 2012 is one of The Solicitors Group’s 3 flagship events for the legal profession and will be held for the seventh consecutive year at the NEC, Birmingham.

The event regularly attracts up to 2,000 legal professionals and is widely regarded as one of the leading events for the legal profession.

GBB will be in attendance exhibiting and providing practical demonstrations of the work that we do and the research that we undertake.

In attendance on behalf of GBB will be Operations Director Matthew Stansfield, and Director In Charge of Large Loss Paul Fidler.

GBB Managing Director Brian Henderson is to appear on the BBC Radio Lancashire Breakfast Show on Thursday 16th February 2012 in a live discussion about insurance claims and the moves by the UK insurance industry and Government to tackle the perceived “whiplash epidemic”.

Brian will appear on the Breakfast Show with Graham Liver.

To listen follow the links below:


16 Feb 2012

6:00am to 9:00am

BBC Radio Lancashire