Proposals to change the way medical reports are sourced and disclosed in road traffic injury claims would be a “backwards step” for the process, lawyers say.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has responded to a Ministry of Justice consultation Revisions to the Medical Reporting Process for Road Traffic Accident Claims. The campaign group says proposals in the consultation would lead to delays to injured people getting the compensation they need.
The MoJ suggests that medical reports should be uploaded to the Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal as soon as they have been completed by the medical expert.
“Forcing premature disclosure of medical reports by getting experts to upload them to OIC without due consideration and fact checking is a dangerous proposal which would ultimately erode injured people’s rights,” said APIL secretary Brett Dixon.
“It also causes the risk of significant satellite litigation as it does not take account of the privileged nature of the report in this context."
“A claimant is entitled to take time to fact-check or even consider whether they want to rely on a report. They may also want to wait for a prognosis or finalise other evidence,” he said.
APIL is also opposed to the proposal that claimants must wait for the at-fault compensator to confirm decisions on liability and causation before they can instruct a medical expert.
“Waiting for confirmation would lead to significant delays. The key issue is not when the instruction occurs but when the expert's report is actually obtained. It is counterproductive to aim to address delays in the OIC by proposing something that could further impede the process,” said Mr Dixon. “The proposals fail to acknowledge that the vast majority of OIC users have legal representation. For the process to work it must reflect the needs of the majority,” he added.
“The majority of users in this system are represented and changing the process to reflect the minority unrepresented journey is not wise. Changing this will be to the detriment of injured people who must be at the centre of any decisions,” he said.