Personal injury firms are preparing a legal challenge to whiplash law changes
A new article has recently revealed that some of the UK's leading personal injury firms are planning to launch a legal challenge to the new reforms of the whiplash claims system that justice secretary Chris Grayling announced earlier this month.
Speaking to insurers at a Motor Conference hosted by the Association of British Insurers, Chris Grayling stated that, once a new accreditation system for whiplash doctors is introduced, insurers should refrain from offering pre-medical offers to claimants – a process known as third party capture.
The new MedCo system is expected to come into force on 1st April 2015, and will randomly allocate independent medical experts to whiplash claims, removing any links between the experts and the law firms. As part of the new system, all medical experts are expected to be placed on the system automatically and they will pay to be accredited by January 2016. However, some doctors have expressed concerns about the system - especially the finer details relating to accreditation fees - and may choose not to be a part of it. A few doctors have admitted to being confused about how they will be assigned work, and some have voiced discontent about paying an accreditation fee without the guarantee of extra work.
Lawyers have taken exception to the new rules
Chris Grayling said that he believes the new MedCo system will reduce insurance premiums for many motorists, but only if all insurers use the MedCo system instead of settling claims without any medical examination. It is these plans to force insurers and claimants to use MedCo that have caused controversy and raised concerns among lawyers and personal injury firms nationwide.
The personal injury firms and medical reporting agencies that have opposed the reforms believe that MedCo will prevent people from preparing their own claim case, thus infringing on their human rights. The personal injury firms in particular have said that, while they support the government’s attempts to reduce the number of fraudulent claims, denying claimants the chance to pick their own medical expert was irrational and anti-competitive. They continued to argue that claimants should not be denied the opportunity to select their own qualified and accredited medical expert, to then be told to pick from a more limited list of doctors that the UK Government has officially recognised instead.
Those opposed to the reform of the whiplash claims system have also raised fears that it could lead to similar changes to other areas of personal injury law, and that legal firms and medical agencies may need to close certain aspects of their business or make staff members redundant as a result.
Naturally, the UK Government has quickly responded to the criticism, emphasising that the new MedCo system will be robust and allow people to easily source suitable medical experts while removing any conflicts of interest.
Justice minister Lord Faulks then personally responded, insisting that while the changes will indeed result in challenges to the way the insurance sector operates, they will also offer organisations opportunities for new and innovative working practices and allow for increased competition on quality, expertise, reputation and capacity.
Have you suffered a whiplash injury through a road traffic accident, an accident at work or a trip or slip? If so, you may be entitled to compensation. To make a claim, please contact our friendly team of solicitors here at Fonseca Law on 0800 156 0770 or fill out one of our online claim forms.