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How to Run a Personal Injury Compensation System - Dr Mark Burgin

29/04/19. Dr. Mark Burgin BM BCh (oxon) MRCGP provides a detailed response to the issues facing the MOJ in 2019 and offers a solution that could change how law is delivered in the UK.

This article has been written in response to the MOJ consultation on Personal injury expert medical reports and takes a systems analysis approach to finding answers.

From the point of view of the Litigant in Person (LiP) they want the same as the solicitors and insurers - an interface that covers all situations and leads them through the claim.

The medical expert wants one system that will provide instructions, appointments to the LiP (or to the instructing party) and allows report to be uploaded and deals with the money.

The Ministry of Justice would like the system to regulate the quality of medical reports and service levels and deal with issues automatically to keep costs down.

The PI industry already has players capable of delivering each these elements and with cooperation the MOJ has the opportunity for a novel solution that can be adapted for other areas of the law.

Interface specification

There are many systems that already allow an individual to enter data for a claimant and chose an appointment - Nephex, Docslots, Corex are some of the best.

The LiP (or their representative) needs to be able to select from a number of appointments and be able to change that appointment if their situation changes.

The interface needs to be able to import data from other systems so that the LiP is not forced to endlessly repeat information that has already been given to someone else.

The LIP has special needs because they will be unable to value the claim without guidance that will need to be provided at the time of inputting the data.

Trials to ensure that those claims that exceed £5000 are correctly transferred to an appropriate solicitor without referral fees are likely to be necessary.

Handling the case

Once the LiP has entered their data and paid the fee for the medical report they should be able to chose an appointment from lists of direct medical experts and agencies.

The current system where there is an initial selection between the direct medical experts and agencies is an unnecessary step and should be removed.

After the appointment the LiP will be able to read their medical report and can chose whether to agree with the report, dispute the facts or dispute the opinion.

Where they dispute the facts an amendment request can be sent to the expert for amendment or to answer the issues raised by the LiP in a response.

Where they dispute the opinion or do not recover in line with the prognoses the medical records would be requested so that the expert can give further instructions in an addendum report.

If the LiP is still unhappy they should be able to request an audit which will consider whether the report is CPR35 compliant, covers the issues and is logical and reasonable e.g. MERA system.

The Medical expert

The physical experts (A and E, orthopaedic, physiotherapist osteopath or chiropractor) can provide fixed cost reports unless the LiP discloses significant psychological disability.

Those with psychological disability will be able to choose a single report from a GP or separate fixed cost reports from a psychologist/psychiatrist and a physical expert.

The medical expert should receive the instruction letter automatically by email when their appointment is selected and should contact the LiP is there is missing data.

On completing the report the medical expert should be able to upload their report and enter their recommendations for treatment or further reports automatically.

The expert will indicate what further evidence will be required and the dates when the LiP can return to their dashboard for further medical examinations.

Conclusions

The Medical Expert will be responsible for checking the data the LiP has entered is correct and ensures errors are dealt with as they will often be the only professional dealing with the LiP.

Unless the medical report fees are paid in advance by the LiPs many medical experts will become ‘unavailable’ to LiPs who try to book appointments with them.

The increased costs for those LiPs with complex psychological problems, unless they chose the GP option, is appropriate to prevent spiralling costs from overuse of psychological experts.

Asking the claimant to provide money up front for medical examinations will encourage good practice and restrict the evidence to that required to settle the claim.

Medical experts whose report indicates a higher value claim should review medical and treatment records, AskCue, engineering evidence and imaging before further reports are arranged.

Doctor Mark Burgin, BM BCh (oxon) MRCGP is on the General Practitioner Specialist Register.

Dr. Burgin can be contacted on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 0845 331 3304 website drmarkburgin.co.uk

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