The randomisation of the selection of experts in whiplash claims was intended to be an important first step in ensuring control of the supposed false and exaggerated claims being made for such injuries. This would remove any possible financial link between lawyer and expert. The important second step was to ensure quality in medical reports.
How was the second step to be achieved? By requiring accreditation of the experts from 1st January 2016. Online courses have been introduced although the content and outcomes of the courses have not been made generally available and we – including the lawyers placing their cases in the hands of the randomly selected experts – are left to hope that this will somehow ensure the quality of the reports. Only it won’t now be on the 1st January. The date was previously extended to 1st February to give experts the time to complete the recently introduced 30 plus hours of online learning and to achieve a pass.
And now, a Christmas present (announced 23rd December) to all those experts who were preparing to forego turkey to sit in front of their computers (re-)learning all about the Civil Procedure Rules. The date is further extended to 6th April 2016 – surely a collective sigh of relief. And why? According to MedCo it is in recognition of
“the latest and ongoing dynamics in the low value soft tissue injury claims market“.
Hopefully that makes sense to you! Of course, subject only to a government ‘consultation’ we expect some injured persons to lose the right to claim damages for what will be identified as sufficiently minor whiplash injuries, and many others to be unable to recover the legal costs of bringing such claims as the result of the planned extension of the small claims track. Certainly that is recent, and ongoing, but it is less clear why that earns recognition in a delay to the start of the supposed quality standard for medical experts.
[Who or what is medico-legal minder? Terms and conditions apply]