January 2018 – Lead Article

Lead Article

Where is the Personal Injury Industry Headed?

Gavel plus stethoscope

Good question, you might agree.  There is anecdotal evidence that the number of claims has reduced somewhat over the last three or four years and this could mirror a gradual improvement in the national economy.  I have previously witnessed spikes in personal injury claims during periods of financial hardship.  I remember the stock market crash of October 1987, the exceedingly high interest rates in the early 1990’s and the global financial crisis of 2008.


Although not all is necessarily well with our economy with housing prices extremely high, unemployment rates beginning to increase and interest rates at an all-time low (and therefore can really only move upwards), the personal injury plaintiff seems to be in some sort of hibernation.


As with all things, I expect that this transient decline will be cyclical and history will repeat itself.

Medicolegal experts company

In the meantime, we are also seeing a shift in the source of high quality medicolegal reports.  Hitherto, independent reporters have essentially reigned supreme.  Over the last four or five years, we have seen an increase in the number of companies entering the arena and acting as brokers between law firms and insurers requiring reports and specialists in fields able to provide those expert opinions.


The Independent vs The Broker

Detective looking through magnifying lens

With the independent medicolegal reporter, the procurer of the report can be guaranteed as a known quantity and quality.  That is not to say that every reporter is of the highest quality.  I can think of some colleagues who are known to be plaintiff men, defendant men or generally lax or slack in their approach to the discipline.  Conversely, there are some independents who continue to thrive in the industry as medicolegal reporters because of the consistency and excellence of their reports.


With the shift towards procuring reports through a broker, whilst a prompt service may be guaranteed, there is no guarantee that the quality, objectivity or transparency will be maintained at the same level as the premium independent reporter.  These brokers obviously are in business to make a profit.  To be competitive, the prices that they charge for a report must be similar to those of the independents.  Cream will be taken off the top of that cake and a diminished report fee is received by the expert opinion provider.  The old adage of “you get what you pay for” could well be true.  If the reporter is receiving less, he or she may contribute less.


The Solution

Gavel and courtroom scale

Whilst considerable money is being made by some of these brokers, and some of them have been taken over by larger operators for that very reason, I recognise the true value that remains within independence.  I will continue to practice under my own name.