A medical testimony is required in an injury case | ask the lawyer

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Either way, we know an accident has happened and we know how it happened. We know what the medical treatment was, who did it and where it was done.

The severity of an injury really determines the value of a personal injury case. Obviously, there are other factors that drive the value up or down. Most personal injury lawyers would agree that the victim of a drunk driver is likely to get more money. Often the perception that someone was on their cell phone or otherwise distracted can lead to a higher verdict.

Injuries come in all kinds, ranging from a catastrophic injury such as loss of limb or paralysis to bumps, cuts and bruises. The monetary value largely corresponds to the extent of the injury.

There are defenses to liability such as contributory negligence, which means that the person who was injured was also at fault in some way. If there is a strong defense, the value of the case goes down.

In cases where there is medical treatment, the courts will, by and large, not allow an ordinary person to testify to their injuries unless and until a doctor certifies that the injuries were caused by the accident that is the subject of the lawsuit. In other words, you can have the accident report showing how the accident happened on one side and a stack of medical records on the other showing what the treatment was. Without a doctor’s testimony to bridge the gap, medical treatment does not enter court unless a doctor says it was both caused by the accident and necessary to treat the wounds.

Insurance companies really use this requirement to not pay claims. Unless the medical records are really clear and the injuries are serious, insurance companies often choose not to pay or pay a very small amount.

One of the problems we see is that the legal system for many years has granted physicians the privilege of giving evidence and exempts them from having to appear in court to testify. This privilege does not extend to physician assistants and nurse practitioners (PAs and CRNPs). We are seeing and will continue to see more treatments by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. These professionals certainly have the right to act as expert witnesses and testify to causation and treatment in the vast majority of cases; however, they must testify live in court.

Buckle up, drive safe and, as always, your referrals are appreciated! 256-764-0112.


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