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Claimant lawyers and insurers must collaborate to address needs of injured people

New rehabilitation code recognises need for streamlined process for claimants

29 September 2015

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Personal injury (PI) claimants must be placed at the centre of the rehabilitation process and have their needs assessed earlier, according to new guidance.

The new rehabilitation code from the International Underwriting Association (IUA) and Association of British Insurers (ABI) rehabilitation working party has been published to encourage greater collaboration between claimant lawyers and the insurers, address injured people's needs, and provide them with the right treatment as quickly as possible.

While the third edition of the code remains voluntary, the personal injury pre-action protocol provides that its use should be considered for all types of PI claims.

The code recognises significant differences between the handling of lower value injuries - those below £25,000 - and medium or catastrophic injuries.

This is designed to accommodate situations where there will be a medical need for claimant solicitors to arrange treatment before getting agreement from the compensator.

In addition, lower value claims will now only require a triage report to establish the type of treatment needed.

Amanda Stevens, chair of the code's project steering group, said: 'This latest code will make rehabilitation delivery even more effective as it is better aligned with current working practices. I hope and believe it will facilitate yet more fantastic examples of what can be achieved when the parties work collaboratively to put the injured person at the centre of the process.'

The working party has also published a guide for rehabilitation case managers and those who commission them. The decision to produce the guide followed concerns expressed by insurers and lawyers about the outcome of some rehabilitation cases.

Vice president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) Neil Sugarman added: 'A truly collaborative approach between lawyers and insurers can help to get the right rehab in place quickly, speeding up the recovery of the injured person, offering a better quality of life and an earlier return to work. These are all factors in restoring a sense of normality, which is often the most important consideration for injured people.'

The working parties that formulated the new code included representatives of the ABI, APIL, the Forum of Insurance Lawyers, Case Management Society UK (CMSUK), the IUA, the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS), and the Personal Injuries Bar Association (PIBA).

Matthew Scott, chair of the ABI's PI committee, commented: 'Insurers, claimant lawyers, and rehab providers have worked closely together during the update of the code to ensure it remains as relevant and effective as possible.'

He added that injured people deserve quality care that puts their interests first and insurers were committed to playing their part in providing that.

Although it is for the parties involved in a PI claim to decide when and how to use the code, the working parties envisage it should become operational from 1 December 2015.

Matthew Rogers is an editorial assistant at Solicitors Journal

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