"We endorse the warning issued by the SRA on these issues. It is important for all parties involved in a claim for damages for personal injury that a professional medico-legal report is obtained in every case."
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) continues to be concerned that the reputation of the legal profession is being undermined by practices in the personal injury claims sector. They have been prompted to investigate the market and have published a warning notice on the ‘risk factors in personal injury claims’ following the publication of its thematic review.
The warning notice, which was updated in December 2017, outlines the SRA’s concerns that solicitors and regulated persons who take personal injury referrals from third parties are failing to uphold the required standards of professional practice. The SRA’s notice brings particular attention to cold calling, referral arrangements and third party instructions.
The SRA highlighted that the firms allowing cold calling of clients by third parties, and in cases where third parties obtain information illegally, could find themselves in breach of the Data Protection Act as well as their professional obligations. Requirements outlined in the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) state that solicitors’ ‘professional judgment’ should not be prejudiced based on who the referral has come from.
The warning notice also focuses on specific concerns about solicitors settling personal injury claims without first obtaining a medical report. The SRA says:
“Before accepting a settlement on behalf of your client you should ensure you have all necessary information for an informed decision to be made by the client, this includes obtaining a medical report. Where you settle a matter, without first obtaining medical evidence, you run the risk of failing in your duty to your client. Without medical evidence you cannot be sure of your client’s prognosis and the full extent of their injuries. You leave yourself open to complaints about inadequate compensation and disciplinary action for failing in your duties.
When you receive a medical report you should take care to fully understand the client’s prognosis and be able to assess the information contained within the report.
If you are in any doubt as to the honesty or competence of an expert witness, such as a doctor preparing a medical report, you must cease using the expert, review all cases involving that expert, and check the underlying facts direct with your clients.”
David Stothard, managing director of MAPS Medical Reporting, said: “We endorse the warning issued by the SRA on these issues. It is important for all parties involved in a claim for damages for personal injury that a professional medico-legal report is obtained in every case. Only by doing this can solicitors ensure that they have a proper understanding of the medical aspects of the injuries sustained by the client so that they can obtain the full compensation they deserve.
“MAPS Medical Reporting has provided over 300,000 medico-legal reports since 1999 and has the experience to provide accurate and professional medico-legal reports in every case type, from our extensive panel of experienced experts across England and Wales. At MAPS we ensure that our report costs are proportionate to the value or complexity of the claim as well as being compliant with court rules and requirements.”
MAPS Medical Reporting provide quick access to reputable experts and high quality specialist medico-legal reports, to provide its customers with robust medico-legal evidence and treatment services in the full range of personal injury and medical negligence claims for damages. Contact us to find out more about how we can support you.