A solicitor has said he was “shocked” by a High Court judge’s attack on the “inappropriate” use of medical experts in personal injury claims.
Mr Justice Michael Twomey recently dismissed two personal injury claims and lambasted lawyers for the “inappropriate practice” of sending their clients for a medical assessment.
The use of doctors to assess a claimant’s injuries is common practice in civil litigation and solicitor Cian O’Carroll said he was surprised to hear of the judge’s reaction.
“I was shocked, I have to say,” he told The Pat Kenny Show.
“This is the bolt out of the blue; in this case the issues weren’t debated during the trial and submissions weren’t sought.
“I think if submissions had been sought - as would be usual on a point like this - the practice, as it does exist, would have been explained to the court.
“And I think the reality is, both sides in each personal injuries case find themselves asking doctors to examine an injured person or a claimant… and to give an independent, professional expert report for the benefit of the court.
“It is not some kind of partisan thing… and to suggest otherwise impugns the doctor as much as it impugns the solicitor or any other lawyer involved in the case.”
The Government previously raised concerns about the soaring number of personal injury claims working their way through the legal system.
In response, they have introduced a number of reforms - most recently passing the Personal Injuries Resolution Board Act 2022 “to amend the procedures in relation to the assessment of claim[s]”.
Mr O’Carroll added that concerns from the insurance industry had recently been addressed as well.
“A number of steps have been taken to address any concerns that the insurance have,” he said.
“In particular, we’ve seen over the last 10 years of my practice, you’ve seen a continual decline in the level of legal costs - despite the fact that the overall environment is getting more expensive.
“And most importantly, the number of actions actually taken has gone from 33,000 in 2019 to just 18,000 in this current year - almost half.”
Main image: A doctor and a patient.