Most people have not had whiplash, nor have they been in a serious car accident.
Long may that last. These sort of injuries are very real and they can be extremely debilitating, with long-lasting consequences. In other cases, they can last for a short period of time, and the patient makes a full recovery.
For that reason, we need a compensation system that is fair and recognises the two ends of the spectrum. The polemic by Neil McDonnell in the Sunday Independent last week in which he criticised the Judicial Council was both unhelpful and unfair.
When the price of insurance increased by 63pc, the knives were out for the industry. And, as always in a knife fight, the insurers brought a gun. This time they aimed it at the injury victim. The intention was to influence the jury in the court of public opinion and they did it by tapping into prejudice.
They ensured that their very slick PR machine focused on the high profile but very rare cases of fraud. The clickbait generation will lap up stories of human failure all day long and media was, understandably, happy to feed the frenzy. While one case of fraud is one too many, it is human nature that a tiny minority will attempt to enrich themselves by unfair means. It was ever thus, but digital media has simply made it easier to expose.
While this has the welcome outcome of deterring such criminality, the unfortunate consequence is of tarring all victims with the same brush. As Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty has uncovered, less than 1pc of all claims are deemed to be fraudulent and fewer ever result in a prosecution.
The damage has been done though. Common perception now sees favour resting with the wrongdoer and the victim has become the villain. The middle classes have voted and decided that claims are for other people.
The judiciary has been handed a highly complex task set out in legislation and which requires navigation of the often contradictory paths of individual rights and the requirements of society. It is incumbent on them to fully consider the consequences of what are likely to be savage cuts in compensation for soft tissue injuries.
Mr McDonnell is deeply critical of the Northern Ireland personal injuries guidelines, presumably because they are too high for his liking. It would seem entirely logical that, as our closest neighbour, they would be taken into consideration. The obsession with the compensation level in England and Wales is puzzling. The entire stated purpose for the reduction in damages is so that insurance premiums will fall in tandem. However, motor insurance premiums in the UK are higher than they are in this country.
Does anyone really believe that lower damages awarded will result in insurance cuts for consumers?
Over the last 11 months claims have dropped significantly, with a tiny fraction of the number of cars on the road. And yet we have seen no real difference in premiums. I am a consumer too - and I was refunded the princely sum of €30.
When damages are inevitably slashed, expect more of the same. There will be another excuse. Brexit, Covid, the markets, the weather. You name it, they will use it. Insurers get richer and victims get poorer. Maybe things haven't changed at all.
Stuart Gilhooly is a litigation solicitor with HJ Ward & Co, a past president of the Law Society and a former member of the Personal Injuries Commission