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Last month HM Government announced plans to limit the choice of medical experts in certain personal injury cases.
The fear is that in some cases this might deny claimants their right to full access to justice.
The plans were announced through an amendment to the Civil Procedure Rules which are due to come into force on 6 April 2015. They will apply to low value soft tissue (so-called whiplash) injuries arising out of road traffic accidents.
What they will mean is that the first port of call in terms of medical evidence for a claimant will be to a medical expert who has been accredited via a not for profit company, called Medco, set up by the UK Government.
The biggest objection to this is that it limits the claimant’s freedom of choice to conduct his own litigation. In particular to be able to choose which medical expert he or she goes to.
Another big concern is that claimants may end up settling their claims for compensation without seeking legal advice and they will be at risk of under settling their claims for compensation.
For example, the medical prognosis for a whiplash injury might be that it should recover within say, a few weeks or months. A report saying this at an early stage might lead to an offer which a claimant may accept without seeking legal advice. If the prognosis turns out to be wrong and the injury doesn’t in fact recover within the period anticipated the claimant would be stuck with what might end up being an under settlement. In other words they might get less compensation than their injury is worth.
One of the aims may well be to reduce fraud, but if that were the case it would be better to concentrate on investigating fraud itself rather than implementing this general approach, which could potentially affect many innocent claimants in the process.
It is hoped that the UK Government will listen to such objections and amend their amendment before April.
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