The new independent medical panels to assess whiplash injuries are on course for implementation this year after the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) began putting together a working group to take them forward.
Following a stakeholder meeting on Monday, the plan is for the group to meet for the first time next month and publish proposals for the medical panels by the summer, with implementation starting later this year.
The regime will apply not only to whiplash but also claims for similar road traffic accident soft tissue injuries, such as those to the back and neck, worth under £5,000.
A form of accreditation system should serve as the basis of the proposals, with an element of random peer review with scrutiny built into this system.
It is likely that once established, only medical reports from accredited examiners would be accepted as evidence in whiplash claims.
In its response to last year’s whiplash consultation, the MoJ said it saw merit in developing “a specific, standardised form for such reports to ensure that information requirements are comprehensive but simplified as much as possible”.
Examinations will be supported by updated guidance on current best practice to improve consistency. The government also favoured medical reports being made available equally to claimants, insurers and (for disputed claims) the courts.
The MoJ has reconfirmed the decision outlined in the consultation response that the limitation period for personal injury will not be cut from three years, as had been suggested by the transport select committee. Changes to the small claims limit “remain under consideration” for the future, but nothing is expected on this any time soon.