Penningtons Manches’ personal injury team has raised concerns about the potential impact on claimants of the latest changes to the Claims Portal process which came into effect on 1 October 2014.
The Claims Portal is an electronic system for handling a variety of personal injury claims up to a value of £25,000. Cases where liability is accepted are handled under the process, with claimants’ solicitors receiving a fixed fee for the investigations they carry out. If liability is denied however, the claim will drop out of the Claims Portal process and be handled in accordance with the normal rules of civil litigation.
Last year the fixed fee that solicitors could recover for road traffic accident claims was cut from £1,200 to £500. For employer liability and public liability claims, a fixed fee of £900 is applied to claims up to £10,000 or £1,600 for claims up to £25,000.
The new changes are not aimed at solicitors but at the medical experts who are instructed to report on these injuries. Under new rules for soft tissue injury claims, the claimant will have permission to obtain a report from one medical expert, with a reporting fee limited to £180. If a second report is subsequently required, this too will be limited depending on the speciality involved. Further restrictions have been applied to the fees allowed for obtaining medical records and seeking addendum reports.
William Broadbent of the Penningtons Manches personal injury team commented: “The latest round of cuts raise concerns about the justice for claimants going through the Claims Portal process. While the cuts are aimed at reducing the cost of insurance for drivers, schools and businesses, they are doing so at the expense of people who have been injured as a result of accidents for which they are not responsible.
“By reducing the fee that experts can recover, there is a risk that many experts will stop offering to assist in cases such as this, narrowing the pool of experts available. The worry is that this will reduce the quality of the reports and may lead to claimants not being properly diagnosed and advised on treatment options. Without a proper diagnosis, our role of advising the claimant will be far more difficult and there is a significant risk that claimants could be undercompensated.”