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Fixed fee scheme could spell disaster for whiplash claimants

The government has announced that all fees for whiplash reports will be fixed from October 2014 onwards, a move that could leave victims of road traffic accidents and their solicitors out of pocket.

Sonia McGarrigle

Sonia McGarrigle

Justice Minister Lord Faulks spearheaded the proposal following feedback from whiplash panels, but despite the panels’ intentions to fine-tune the claims process, the introduction of the scheme means claimants will have to pay more for medical reports.

“The insurer will only pay the fixed fee, however, the doctors completing these reports can still insist on a fee of their choice. We are already seeing evidence of this in clinical negligence cases funded by the Legal Services Commission,” said Sonia McGarrigle, Solicitor at John Morse Solicitors and Senior Litigator with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

Under the Data Protection Act, both GPs and hospitals can agree a fee of up to £50 for medical records. As a result there will be a short fall which ultimately has to be settled by the solicitor as claimants rarely pay for the reports due to the ‘No Win, No Fee’ cover exercised in many cases.

Sonia added: “On the other hand, the scheme ensures medical professionals are able to recover a fixed fee in low value personal injury claims. In these particular circumstances, solicitors should agree fixed costs in advance to ensure their client gets the compensation they deserve.”