Work is ongoing to stop the practice of pre-medical offers for personal injury claims

The House of Commons Transport Committee has published a series of letters in a special report shedding more light on the government consultation on reducing whiplash claims.

In a letter in response to a request for further information from the Transport Select Committee chair, Louise Ellman, secretary of state for justice Chris Grayling said the government will work to ban the practice of pre-medical offers for personal injury claims.

“We are attracted to the idea of a rule to ensure that a medical examination and report is completed before a claim can proceed … However, devising such a rule is unlikely to be straightforward, nor will it be sufficient on its own.

“Ministry of Justice officials are currently arranging meetings with the relevant stakeholders to discuss the options, and early indications from the ABI indicate there is a willingness on the part of insurers to end this practice.”

However, Grayling said the government would not introduce requirements for further proof of whiplash, such as proof of consulting a medical practitioner, before making a claim.

“There is no immediate priority to consult further on this recommendation,” he wrote. “It would be very difficult to devise a system of evidence to use in this way which doesn’t impact on the burden of proof used in such cases.”

Despite this, Grayling did confirm that medical practitioners assessing potential whiplash injuries will, in future, be provided with further information regarding the nature of the accident.

“We will ensure that the new system has the facility built in for experts to receive extra information such as accident reports from the defendant and the claimants medical records, where this is appropriate,” he wrote.

“The requirement for ‘proof of a medical examination’ should be usefully dealt with by the work we will be taking forward on stopping pre-medical offers,” he added.

Grayling also confirmed that the new medico-legal procedures would require a re-design of the current reporting paperwork.

“Such a system will require an improved standard medical report form for use in all claims,” he wrote. “The views of claimants, defendants, medical experts and the judiciary will all be considered when designing this form.

“We also favour reports being made equally available to claimants, insurers and (where necessary) courts … The information included should also help all parties reach an effective and appropriate settlement relating to the quantum of damages.”

The introduction of the new medical panels will also require medical experts to be jointly commissioned before they give evidence.

“Our reforms will see experts being commissioned jointly by both the claimant and the defendant, and their payment not being dependent on the outcome of the claim,” he wrote.