This group is expected to be made up of road traffic accident lawyers and insurers and representatives of the British Medical Association, Law Society and other related bodies. It will be expected to come up with a solution to the issue of implementing the medical panels by the end of July. In the future, medical panels will be charged with handling road traffic accident claims under £5,000.
Association of Personal Injury Lawyers Vice President John Spencer was at a meeting into these changes to personal injury law. He told Post that Justice Minister Shailesh Vara confirmed to attendees the personal injury claim limitation period would not be changed, and that the government would not force through changes to the small claims track limit. However, these limits could still change in the future and will be kept under a UK government review.
Mr Spencer added that the medical panels will be focused on road traffic accident whiplash claims worth up to £5,000, with a ministry civil servant present at the meeting confirming it will not go beyond these limits.
Medical panels for whiplash injury claims will therefore almost certainly be delivered in 2014.
Difficulties implementing whiplash injury compensation medical panels
A huge amount of manpower will be needed to establish these medical panels. Whiplash injury claims occur up and down the country, and claimants can be unfit to travel as a result of their injuries. The UK will therefore need to have thousands of accredited whiplash doctors if this personal injury law is to succeed.
The Insurance Times reports that it is already understood that the insurance industry will pay for these whiplash panels, and that taxpayers will not have to foot the bill. Paul Edwards, Head of Costs at commercial law firm Hill Dickinson, who was also at the meeting, told the publication that Shailesh Vara made this very clear.
However, it is still not decided if the medical panel’s costs will be funded by a pot that the insurers pay for, if medical experts paying for accreditation will also possibly fund this pot, or if the losing defendant will have to pay the panel’s costs.
Mr Edwards said that at the moment, the question of which medical professionals are capable of being on these whiplash injury claim panels is “wide open”.
This forms part of the government’s strategy to reduce the overall volume and cost of whiplash injury claims. Ministers argue that the number of whiplash injury claims is increasing and that this is significantly impacting people’s motor vehicle premiums, although all of these claims are questionable, with figures suggesting whiplash could add just £6.30 to the average insurance policy and with the number of whiplash claims falling from 2,553 in December 2012 to reach just 1,485 in September 2013.