The Government continues to introduce reforms to crack down on perceived money making scams relating to personal injury claims. New rules have been introduced to bring changes to low value soft tissue motor claims where the Claim Notification Form is submitted onto the portal system on or after 01 October 2014.
Soft tissue injuries are defined as: ‘a claim brought by an occupant of a motor vehicle where the significant physical injury caused is a soft tissue injury and includes claims where there is a minor psychological injury secondary in significance to the physical injury’
This means that the new rules do not just apply to neck injuries claims; it can in essence cover a multitude of injuries across the body that may be defined as ‘soft tissues injuries’.
The changes are brought about to control the use and costs of medical reports and to ensure the Claimant’s medical expert is independent of any medical treatment recommended to the Claimant. Claimants will be limited to obtaining an initial report from any medical expert to the maximum value of £180.00 and will only be permitted, save in exceptional circumstances, from obtaining a further report from the same or expert of another discipline, where it is recommended in the first report. The costs of some of these other reports are also limited and if not limited, the costs must be justified to be recoverable.
Furthermore, the changes limit offers made by Defendants prior to obtaining and disclosing the initial medical report, known as ‘pre-medical’ offers. Defendants currently make these offers in order to put pressure on Claimants to settle their claims without obtaining full medical evidence to allow them to accurately quantify their claims. Failure to accept the time limited pre-medical offer or acceptance of the offer outside the time limit, has led to the Claimant paying costs. The new rules are meant to protect the Claimant and mean that any formal pre-medical offers, will not have any adverse costs consequences for the Claimant until the initial medical report has been obtained and disclosed to the Defendant.