At least 25 medical experts will be on hand to diagnose injuries for unrepresented claimants when the new personal injury reforms come into force.
From Monday, all RTA claims up to £5,000 will fall under the small claims threshold, meaning legal costs will no longer be recoverable. This is expected to cause a leap in the number of unrepresented people claiming through a new web portal. All will require a medical examination, and medical experts and medical reporting organisations that wish to receive work from unrepresented claimants now require online training and auditing.
MedCo, the organisation responsible for auditing medical experts, said this week that 25 applications have been approved out of the 150 received, with many more in progress. Those who have been accredited can be instructed by litigants in person from Monday.
Lawyers using MedCo will also notice a change from Monday, as they can search for non-whiplash claims when they come to instruct an expert.
All medical experts must complete a whiplash reforms course by the end of 31 May if they want to continue providing reports.
The new portal, Official Injury Claim, was developed by the Motor Insurers Bureau for the Ministry of Justice. It applies to all injury claims up to £5,000 and other protocol losses up to £10,000 from accidents in England and Wales on or after 31 May. It does not handle claims involving under-18s, pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists.
Earlier this month, the site published a 64-page guide designed to help unrepresented people. There has been criticism about the complexity of this document and concern about whether the system will be ready to go live on Monday.
Qamar Anwar, managing director of claims company First4Lawyers, said: ‘While the government might sell these reforms as an opportunity for claimants to settle their claims quickly and without the need for court, the reality is quite different.
‘How many claimants do they think will sift through 64 pages to guide them through their claim? Worse still, how will claimants know if their claim is worth more or less than £5,000? And let’s not forget the new portal go-live date comes on a bank holiday, when it appears that the call centre to support injured claimants won’t even be open.’