What is Medico Legal Assessment?
Medico-legal Assessments are often referred to as Medical legal assessments or personal injury medical examinations. Medico-legal examinations are often requested by your lawyer, the insurer, or the insurer’s lawyers for the purpose of your ongoing injury compensation claim. This assessment is often conducted by a medical legal doctor (i.e, medico legal doctor), or other medico legal experts. These doctors are often known as workers’ compensation doctors, AMS doctors, or accident injury doctors. Unlike your GP or your treating doctor, medical legal doctors are often not of your choice. They are chosen by the lawyers or the insurance company to assess your level of disability or impairment ratings.
Medico Legal Report Meaning in Compensation Claims
A medico legal report in a personal injury claim is a report requested so that a party to a dispute can obtain expert evidence from a doctor, as an expert witness, as to the nature and extent of a person’s personal injury.
As an expert witness, the District Court consolidated practice directions state that the doctor conducting the medico legal review is not an advocate for a party. An expert witness’s paramount duty is a duty to the Court and not to the person retaining the expert.
Insurers, such as workers compensation insurers and motor vehicle insurers (such as the Insurance Commission of WA) will usually obtain medico legal reports to improve their case by showing:
- The injured person’s condition has recovered;
- The injured person’s condition is due to something else such as a disease they had before (e.g. natural degeneration of the body or arthritis) and not due to the accident;
- That the injured person is not telling the truth about the extent of their condition.
Lawyers who act for injured people will very often pay for medico legal reports meaning that injured people can address the requirement to prove their case and can show that their injury happened due to an accident or incident (such as a car crash or work injury) and the extent of their injury.
Medical Legal Report Vs. GP Reports
Medical legal reports from expert witness doctors and GP reports can both be used as medical evidence in personal injury claims. The purpose of medical legal assessment is to gather medical evidence, which can be used to establish base lines, such as:
- What benefits apply?
- How much you claim is worth?
- Is there any further treatment required?
- Is it the right time to consider overall settlement of your claim?
Medical legal reports contain information which impacts your injury compensation payout amount. This is why it is no surprise that the medical legal doctors who are chosen by the insurance company and their lawyers may not agree with your chosen doctor. The reports provide significantly more detail than General Practitioner Progress Medical Certificates.
A judge will consider both your doctor’s medical report and the report from a medico legal doctor. Then use both to form a decision about your claim. Therefore, it is important to make sure you do the right things at all medico-legal exams. Mistakes can get your compensation payout amount reduced.
Foyle Legal works with injured people on accident injury claims. In this work, they have witnessed lots of mistakes that injured people make with medico-legal exams. Here is a list of common mistakes to avoid when dealing with medical evidence in a personal injury claim:
- Fail to report to a doctor soon enough
- Fail to report all your injuries
- Fail to attend medical appointments on regular basis
- Fail to truthfully report the severity of the injuries suffered
- Fail to cooperate with medical doctor
- Fail to follow doctor’s advice
Don’t be THE TOUGH GUY
No one wants to seem weak and be seen as a complainer, a whiner, a wimp. However, medico legal assessments are not the time to play tough guy. If you are attending a medical legal doctor, it is important to speak up so that your injuries are properly understood.
We have seen some clients, who stay quiet about their pain and suffering. They fail to report their pain accurately and swiftly which results in getting their compensation cut or reduced. If you are working with a personal injury lawyer, please be sure to seek advice before completing medical legal assessments.
Not Seeing a Doctor Soon Enough
After your injury if you are in any pain go directly to the doctor. Trying to tough it out can reflect badly on you in court. The inference can be made that you did not have an injury. The dates of both your accident and the first doctor’s visit will be on file. For example, if you suffered an injury from car accident, waiting too long will make it look like you were not in pain at the time. Or it can be alleged that your injury was not caused by the accident.
Stopping Seeing your Doctor Too Soon
It’s understandable that you want to get back to your life. But any breaks in your treatment will be factored into your compensation payout. The insurer is likely to argue that the fact you did not continue to seek medical assistance is evidence that you do not need medical assistance. They may make the claim that the injury had little impact in your future earning capacity. The loss of your current and future income is linked to the amount of your compensation payout. So the allegation that your future income loss is minimum will have a negative impact on your compensation payouts.
Not Bringing Up All of Your Medical Issues
It can be tempting to want to only bring up the biggest problems. However, everything you say to your accident injury doctor goes on the record. If you don’t mention a pain you are having, then as far as your claim goes that pain will not exist or is less likely to exist. This includes mentioning if your pain or injuries make work impossible. You want that fact in your medical notes or in your medico-legal exam.
Stick to THE FACTS
Honesty is the best policy when it comes to medical legal examinations. Everything you say can go into the doctor’s report and come up in litigation. So stick to the facts. There are two key common mistakes about the stating the facts.
Making Overblown Statements – Don’t Exaggerate
On the opposite side of trying to tough things out, don’t exaggerate. Doctors have a lot of medical evidence to evaluate. They can typically tell if you are exaggerating and it will show up in their reports.
Speculating on the Facts — Don’t Guess
You will be asked about your accident during a medical legal exam. Be factual. If you don’t know a detail, don’t embellish. Guessing can be used to discredit you as a witness later. Don’t speculate on things like the amount of damage done, speeds, or weights. Only speak to the facts that you know. Your medical records will do the rest.
Take it SERIOUSLY
No one is going to take your personal injury claim seriously if you don’t. Together with your personal injury lawyer, your job is to prove the severity of your injuries. And there are some ways to undo your efforts in this direction.
Missing Doctor’s Appointments
Nothing says you aren’t really concerned about your recovery like missed doctor’s appointments. Just don’t do it. Show up to every appointment and don’t try to put appointments off. This history is something that can be seen when judging your claim.
Dwelling on Legal Over Medical
Your car accident doctor, AMS doctor, or workers’ compensation doctor, doesn’t want to hear about your personal injury claim. This is partially because their focus is your health, and they think yours should be too. It is also partially because many doctors don’t like dealing with the courts. Either way, you should focus on their medical advice. If they think you are trying to milk the system that will show up in medico-legal exam report. Your compensation lawyer and your medical legal doctor don’t need to interact at this stage.
If you have a reason to doubt doctor, or medical legal doctor, do speak up calmly with explanation of the reason why you disagree. It can be difficult to disagree and be cooperative at the same time. The best way to deal with it is to seek advice from your lawyer on how to handle situations like this. If you found yourself facing a tricky situation like this, please be sure not do:
Don’t Argue with Your Doctors
Arguing with the doctor can reflect badly on your claim. You may not agree, but always remain respectful. Remember, doctors respond much better to reasons than emotions.
Don’t Ignore Medical Advice
Nothing kills a claim faster than if it’s discovered you are not following your doctor’s orders. It makes a statement that you don’t care about your recovery. Or worse, you may be regarded as fully recovered and needing no further compensation. Don’t give the opposing side this kind of ammunition. If you disagree with your doctor, you should voice it to your lawyer and follow their advice promptly.
Beyond these common mistakes, there is one prime thing you can do to help your personal injury claim. Work with your personal injury lawyer to avoid mistakes in your medical legal reports. They know the process. Finding the best personal injury lawyer in the Perth area can be the best thing you do for your personal injury claim. At Foyle Legal, we deal with injury claims just like yours every day.