NEW RTA claims process – speeding up personal injury claims?
From 6 April 2010 claims involving personal injuries arising out of road traffic accidents, where compensation is likely to be between £1,000 and £10,000, will be dealt with, at least in the initial stages, by a new online claims process. It is anticipated that this new process will lead to claims being concluded in less time than at present.
Road Traffic Accident claims: Under the new Process, a Claimant will submit a Claims Notification Form online, via a new secure Portal set up to deal with the Process. Insurers will then have just 15 days to provide their decision in respect of liability for the accident. The decision will also be submitted online, via the Portal.
Under the current system, insurers have 21 days to acknowledge a letter of claim plus 3 more months to carry out investigations and provide a decision in respect of liability. On the face of it, that decision should be provided much sooner than at present.
It may take a Claimant longer to get to the stage of formally notifying their claim to a Defendant or insurer as the new Claims Notification Form can only be submitted once all applicable sections have been completed. The form requires a Claimant to provide significantly more information than needs to be included in a letter of claim under the current system.
Another significant change is that Claimants will be required to make an offer of settlement when submitting their medical evidence and details of their financial losses to an insurer. Currently most Claimants prefer to wait for an opening offer from an insurer before putting their cards on the table. Although this change may not be entirely welcomed by Claimants it will speed up the settlement of a claim in the majority of cases.
Another time cutting measure is that, in instances where liability is not in dispute, but the parties have been unable to agree a settlement figure, instead of proceeding to exchange witness statements and attending a Hearing at Court, it is thought that the Court will consider the medical evidence and evidence of financial losses "on the papers" and make a judgment without the need for the parties to attend a formal Court Hearing.
It remains to be seen how successful the new Process will be and how many claims stay within the Process. Current thinking suggests that a number of claims initially entering the Process will exit it before conclusion, e.g. if a Defendant insurer denies liability or fails to submit an admission of liability within the 15 day timescale, the claim will automatically fall out of the Process and proceed to be conducted under the previous system.