Last week Justice Secretary Chris Grayling gave the go-ahead to proposals to introduce independent accredited medical panels to assess injuries of claimants and weed out exaggerated or fraudulent claims, and to require injured parties to have a medical report before they can make a claim.
However, he is deferring plans to increase the small claims limit from £1,000 to £5,000 for road traffic accident injuries, as the House of Commons transport committee had argued that raising the limit could reduce access to justice and encourage the growth of claims management companies.
Instead, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said it will introduce independent medical panels next year, “which will ensure only evidence from accredited professionals can be considered”.
Mr Grayling said he deplored the fact that that the UK has the highest rate of whiplash claims in Europe, often from so-called ‘crash for cash’ scams, adding “there’s something not right here and we’re going to fix it.”
In a foreword to the Government’s response on reducing the cost of whiplash claims, Mr Grayling also said he wants insurers to share more of their data on suspected fraudulent or exaggerated claims with claimant lawyers, with claimant lawyers also carrying out more effective checks on their potential clients.
Chair of the Commons Transport Select Committee, Labour MP Louise Ellman, welcomed the move, saying that the Committee has looked at the problem over a long time and has recommended that insurance companies should not pay out for whiplash claims without a medical report from independent medical practitioners.
The move is part of a series of plans aimed at bringing down the cost of motoring for drivers. Other proposals include freezing the cost of MOTs at £54.85 until 2015 and posting fuel price comparison signs alongside roads.
Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London
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