The changing world of personal injury claims
The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) Road Accident Claims System (RTA Portal) has radically changed the processing of low value personal injury claims. The RTA Portal was introduced two years ago and sees no-contested motor-related personal injury claims with a value of between £1,000-£10,000 enter a pre stage electronic transfer process with fixed fees at each stage.
The insurance companies hail the scheme as a success and are pressing with Government support to expand its cover road accident injury claims worth up to £25,000 with implementation by April 2013. There is now a drive from the insurers for the scheme to include accidents at work, highway tripping claims and possibly also industrial disease claims. However, given recent amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Capital Punishment of Offenders Bill it now appears unlikely that there will be abolition of after the event insurance and success fees of personal injury claims for industrial disease type personal injury claims and therefore it is unlikely that the fixed fee scheme will be rolled out into these very complex and difficult cases.
One must sound caution at this point and bear in mind that some employer’s liability(EL) / workplace accident claims can be very complex and require detailed scrutiny of personal injury case law and sound knowledge of the six pack regulations. My concern is that if the Solicitors fees are squeezed significantly it may force a number of law practices that specialise into other more financially lucrative areas of legal practice and ultimately this will mean that the public will lose the opportunity of the very best lawyers running their cases when their claims are being pursued in the courts. The proposed cost shifting as set out in The Jackson Report and which is enshrined in the Legal Aid Sentencing and Capital Punishment of Offenders Bill presents an interesting conundrum for defendant insurers. On the one hand they may see fixed costs being introduced and therefore achieve significant savings in relation to legal fees but on the other hand it is conceivable that they will also see an increase in the number of claims brought against their insureds as Claimant solicitors may pursue borderline claims as there will be an opportunity of recovery against an employer as the claimant will not face any costs penalties for bringing failed cases before the court.
As Head of Johnson Law Legal Practice and having worked as a personal injury Solicitor for over 25 years I do feel that notwithstanding the imminent changes to the personal injury sector there will inevitably be opportunities for innovative, cost efficient and experienced lawyers such as Johnson Law but it is fair to say that these are indeed times of change in our sector of the legal market.
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