Launching a consultation exercise, justice secretary Chris Grayling said independent medical panels could be created to assess the validity of whiplash cases. The panels would be unconnected to the claimant or claims management companies.
System has been open to abuse
Honest drivers had been paying for a system open to abuse from fraudsters for too long he noted: 'We are proposing action to support effective whiplash diagnosis by medical experts and to simplify procedures which will help bring speculative or fraudulent claims before a judge – so genuine claims can still be settled but fraudsters are left in no doubt there will be no more easy paydays.'
Physios could 'washed out' of the system
But physiotherapists might end up being excluded from the medical panels, experts have warned.
Martin Doherty, a physio and medico-legal expert based in Bournemouth, said: 'My gut feeling is that physiotherapists are going to be washed out of this, and that the government will be recreating the wheel.
'I worry that what they will do is just create a whole new accreditation process but still end up using the same doctors and orthopaedic surgeons, who already carry out whiplash assessments, on these panels.'
Physiotherapy whiplash specialist Christian Worsfold agrees. 'I regularly make presentation on medico-injury reporting to lawyers and there is a lot of resistance to instructing physiotherapists to assess whiplash – the preference is definitely medical.
'Physiotherapists are perfect for this kind of work but people don't seem to recognise this.'
Dramatic rise in personal injury claims
There has been a 60 per cent increase in personal injury claims relating to road accidents since 2006, while reported accidents have fallen by one fifth.