Medical experts will be banned from writing reports and offering treatment from October
Fees for whiplash medical reports will be slashed to £180 and experts who produce medical reports banned from also offering treatment to the injured claimant, justice secretary Chris Grayling has announced.
Grayling said that the measures, which will come into force in October, were the latest stage of the government’s plan to tackle insurance fraud and turn the tide on the UK’s growing compensation culture.
From October the new rules will mean medical professionals can only charge £180 for an initial whiplash report, which the government said reflected the time taken to carry out assessments and write them up. Currently, prices of up to £700 are charged, leading to concerns that they are being used to generate profit.
The measures will come into effect through new court rules and include:
- Introducing an expectation that medical evidence will be limited to a single report, unless a clear case is made otherwise, and allowing defendants to give their account of the incident directly to the medical expert, when appropriate
- Discouraging insurers from settling whiplash claims without a medical report confirming the claimant’s injury. In the past insurers have settled claims without evidence in order to deal with them quickly – meaning some questionable claims are not challenged
- Stopping experts who produce medical reports from also offering treatment to the injured claimant, to ensure there is no incentive for them to encourage unnecessary treatment
Grayling said: “Honest drivers have been bearing the cost of a system that has been open to abuse and it is time for a change.
“We are determined to have an improved, robust system for medical evidence - so genuine claims can still be settled but fraud is driven out of the market.
“Work is also ongoing on the next phase of reform to introduce accreditation for experts who provide whiplash reports and to establish greater independence in the market, as in the past there have been questions over the impartiality of medical experts, claims firms and others involved in producing reports.”
In June Grayling announced plans to table legislation to ban law firms from offering incentives to encourage potential clients to bring a claim, and to allow the courts to throw out an entire compensation case if part of the claim is proved to be fundamentally dishonest.