Medical Reports and the Small Claims Limit Increase – A prejudice for vulnerable road users?
(Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 42 seconds)
By Matthew Best, Senior Underwriting Manager
Seeking to reduce the number of fraudulent negligence claims is understandable, but funding medical reports for vulnerable genuine victims of negligence can be a big issue. What is the latest, especially for the proposed small claims limit increase?
How things have changed. Once upon a time, there was Legal Aid to enable injured people to access legal representation. Thereafter, and to date, this was replaced by the CFA, which saw a No win, No fee Agreement. Times are changing yet again, and in April 2020, a new chapter is looming. A chapter that could very well see a severe loss of appetite for law firms to take on small claims. This is understandable given what is coming – but is it fair on genuine victims of negligence?
As we know, in November 2016, the Government announced plans to introduce legislation that would increase the small claims limit for personal injury claims arising out of a road traffic accident to £5,000; and for all other personal injury claims, the limit will be increased to £2,000.
The primary aim of these changes is logical – to reduce the number of claims being made fraudulently. According to Lord Keen at the recent report stage in the House of Lords, the increase in the small claims limit will ‘encourage insurers to challenge unmeritorious claims, many of which are not now challenged because of the potential legal costs’. As with the current system, the idea behind this is that a claim can be brought without the need for legal representation.
However, wouldn’t this prejudice potential claimants? Defendant insurance companies will have access to their own legal departments who will have access to legal knowledge and experience that potential claimants won’t have. Is that fair?
You may have clients who use your firm for all of their legal disputes, whether it be personal injury matters, employment matters or even a boundary dispute. Wouldn’t it be attractive to still be able to offer a service to those clients who have a small personal injury claim?
But what is the risk?
You might think it’s minimal – but here’s a question from the client’s perspective; ‘Who is responsible for the cost of medical reports in these cases?’
In June 2019’s PI Focus magazine, ex-APIL President, Brett Dixon said; ‘The MoJ’s plans are for the wrongdoer to pay the upfront cost of the medical report, but only when liability is admitted, or partially admitted. All an insurer will need to do is deny liability, and the claimant will most likely go away [because] an injured person would have to put up £180 for the medical report to take their case further.’
How can Temple help?
Well, whether you are a current client of Temple Legal Protection, or you are a firm looking for a solution for your clients, we will have a solution. A genuine victim of negligence should not need to pay anything; but if they have to find circa £180 in order to advance their case, then things can become expensive. What if Temple could provide an indemnity to cover this amount for a nominal premium – considerably less than £180?
If you would like to discuss a solution to an imminent problem arising from this change in legislation, please contact me on 01483 514804 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Matthew Best Cert CII
Matt has an insurance background and joined Temple in 2011 having worked for 4 years in a leading insurance company where he was dealing with personal injury work. Matthew was promoted to Underwriting Manager and subsequently Senior Underwriting Manager taking on overall responsibility for Temple’s personal injury and clinical negligence underwriting department.
In 2022 Matt joined the board of directors as Director of ATE Partnerships. Matthew has cultivated fantastic relationships with our business partners for many years. His ability to build a clear understanding of their requirements and more importantly what is required to fulfil such requirements means he is ideally placed to support the strategic direction of the company.
Matt remains the head of the personal injury and clinical negligence department and is committed to all Temple’s business partners in order to deliver the highest level of service they expect. He is also responsible in making sure that Temple’s ATE and disbursement funding products remain competitive, but most importantly that they are fit for purpose for solicitors and their clients.
Read articles by Matthew Best Cert CII