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  New medical report format in RTA cases

In October 2009, the Ministry of Justice set out its policy on how low-value PI claims in RTA cases will be handled, including a new medical report template

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) set out in its policy document entitled ‘Low value personal injury claims in road traffic accidents’ a new claims process that will apply to road traffic accident personal injury cases where the value of the claim is between £1,000 and £10,000. MoJ officials are now working with a Civil Procedure Rules Committee sub-committee on draft rules, practice directions and pre-action protocols with a view to implementing the process in April 2010. The aim is for the process to be as clear and well defined as possible and to include fixed time periods and, you've guessed it, fixed recoverable costs.

Most of the policy document is of only passing interest to expert witnesses, but the medical report template set out in Appendix 3 is more directly relevant. The template ‘is intended to point medical experts to the issues that they need to cover in their report’ and ensure ‘both parties have all the information they need and therefore reduce the possibility of delay within the new streamlined process’. The policy limits the number of reports that will generally be permitted in these low-value claims. The template is split into 7 sections, as follows:

  • Section A: Claimant’s details
  • Section B: History and present position as reported by the claimant
  • Section C: Employment position, education and consequential effects
  • Section D: Past medical history, examination, diagnosis and prognosis
  • Section E: Seatbelts
  • Section F: Future treatment and rehabilitation
  • Section G: Statement of Truth

Interestingly, the form explicitly states that the first report ‘is without notes except where requested by medical experts’. Presumably that refers to medical records, so no doctor should feel pressured into writing a report without seeing the medical records if, as many doctors feel, this is an uncomfortable prospect. Surprisingly, given that this document comes from the MoJ, Section G contains the wrong version of the mandatory Statement of Truth!

We have received assurance from the MoJ that it does not intend for the medical report template to be a mandatory element of the new regime, simply that it sets out the information required from the medical expert. The information can be provided in a different format to that set out in the template.

Once the process has been agreed by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee the forms will be available from the HM Court Services web site. But for the convenience of expert witnesses, the UK Register of Expert Witnesses has prepared the current version of the medical report template (with spelling corrections and the updated Statement of Truth) as

  • a Word version, and
  • a PDF version with form fields.

so that experts can review the material in preparation for the anticipated launch in April 2010.

Visit our expert library for these and other materials of use to expert witnesses.

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Issue 58
February 2010

New medical report format in RTA cases
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