Why Doctors Play a Vital Role in the Injury Lawsuit Process 

November 11, 2019
Jaipreet Nanra
Barrister, Solicitor & Notary Public
Gosai Law

When an accident victim files an injury lawsuit, lawyers are not the only professionals who play a vital role in the proceedings.  Doctors and other health practitioners are key to ensuring the injured party receives the compensation they deserve to help them during recovery. 

Doctors are able to authoritatively link injuries sustained by a patient to an accident, which can be of critical importance to the patient’s insurance claim. Here are seven ways in which you as a doctor can make a difference in an injury lawsuit. 

1. The Plaintiff’s Testimony is Not Enough

When a plaintiff describes their pain and suffering, it is important to the case but not enough to prove they should receive benefits. As a doctor, your expertise helps support the injured person’s claims by demonstrating they have a suitable injury for a claim. 

Your records and diagnosis are important to demonstrate the extent of your patient’s injuries and how those injuries impair different aspects of their life. Your expertise also helps all parties in the lawsuit understand the injuries from a medical perspective, and this improved understanding can affect how long the personal injury case will take.

2. Records of Visiting You Are Evidence

Through Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) records, parties in the claim can see the purpose of the claimant’s visits to you and other health practitioners.  This pattern of visits helps establish the consistency of their post-accident injuries 

The records also show non-injury health complaints.  These help determine if your patient has a suitable injury for benefits and damages such as medical rehabilitation benefits, attendant care, or income replacement benefits as the parties evaluate pain and suffering caused by the accident. 

Doctor’s notes are also important evidence, demonstrating the depth of injuries and impairments.  Your notes reveal the injury’s credibility, permanence, seriousness, and effects over time.  Comparing notes from before and after the accident helps parties in the claim evaluate the degree the injury impacted your patient’s life.

3. Expert Witnesses Evaluate the Evidence

If you are a specialist, such as an orthopaedic surgeon, physiatrist, or psychiatrist, you may testify as an expert witness.  When you review referrals, scans, and notes by family doctors and other health practitioners, you help determine if the claimant should receive benefits and compensation for their injury and how much insurance will pay for that injury. 

For a tort claim, you might evaluate whether the claimant has a permanent and serious physical, mental, or psychological function impairment.  If so, you will also provide your expert opinion on the degree of impairment and its impact on the claimant’s lifestyle.

4. Doctors Help Patients Care for Their Health and Wellbeing

After a personal injury, you refer patients to specialists, request scans, and recommend or modify treatment plans.  Perhaps you prescribe medicine, rest, exercise, physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage treatment, yoga, or acupuncture to help someone in your care recover from their injuries. 

As a family doctor, you are most familiar with your patient’s medical history, helping you determine the best course of treatment.  You can modify or add suggestions to another practitioner’s treatment plan to better suit your patient.  For example, you may know which medication is best for them and whether they are a candidate for active or passive physiotherapy treatment.  With your assistance, your patient can begin getting their life back on track.

5. Specialists Provide Additional Expertise

As a specialist, you can use your expertise to delve deeper and discover the root of the injury. You provide a diagnosis and the prognosis for your patient’s recovery.  You may recommend treatment beyond what the family doctor has suggested, such as pain injections or surgery. 

Specialists not only assist their patients on their path to recovery.  Your diagnosis and recommendations help determine the extent of the injuries and guide how much insurance will pay for the injury.

6. Insurer Examinations Verify Information

Insurers may request an examination by a doctor or other health practitioner of their choosing.  As a doctor hired by the insurer, you provide your own diagnosis or conclusion, outline a recovery prognosis, and determine the claimant’s entitlement to a benefit, reporting this information back to the insurance company.  

These reports impact the claim because the insurance provider considers their experts more credible, even if the health practitioner has just met the claimant for the first time.  Your professional opinion may or may not match those of the family doctor, but you can verify the severity of the patient’s injury.

7. Doctors Provide Direct and Impactful Results

Doctors’ opinions and medical records help determine if a patient has a suitable injury to receive certain benefits or damages.  Those decisions, in turn, will impact the quality of care a patient receives as they recover from their injuries. 

For an accident benefits claim, the claimant must meet the disability threshold to be entitled to a specific benefit.  The Income Replacement Benefit, for example, gauges whether an employee or self-employed individual is substantially unable to perform the essential tasks of their employment or self-employment within two years of the accident.  

If your patient is off work following an accident, it can be critical that they receive their benefits as soon as possible to cover rent, family expenses, education, and other financial obligations.  As a doctor, your diagnosis, medical records, and expertise can help accurately determine your patient’s needs and get them the financial help they need quickly.  Providing detailed and timely medical records helps determine how long the personal injury case will take. 

Why Doctors Play a Vital Role in Personal Injury Lawsuits?

Without detailed and accurate medical records, your patient may not receive the financial benefits to help them through recovery.  As you provide medical care, keep in mind the critical role you play in their financial recovery as well. 

If you would like more information on the injury lawsuit process, consult our content library.  To refer your patient to a personal injury attorney, contact Gosai Law. 

Read More:

Accident Benefits should help the injured at a vulnerable time. Proposed changes to Accident Benefits in Ontario in the Marshall Report may change this.

If you are trying to get back on your feet you may need a lawyer, here are some things to look for in your legal representation.

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