The contentious thing at the heart of a personal injury case is often the injury itself. How severe is it? Has it been mischaracterised by either side? Could bias be colouring the presentation of the issue?
A lawyer may need to find an expert medical witness to perform an independent medical examination (IME) to help achieve clarity amidst a murky clash of opinion and evidence. But even here, the lawyer must navigate the complicated field of medicine to find the right person.
What do you need from an expert medical witness
In case they’re cross-examined, your expert witness must be able to present a credible case to a judge or jury who likely do not understand the intricacies of medicine. They need to come across as knowledgeable, objective, and clear. A pleasant and professional demeanor is important, as is the ability to react capably to difficult questions.
But their actual expertise is of critical importance. Different injuries to different body systems are best examined by different specialists. You’ll need your IME doctor to have solid experience in the relevant field, and ideally the assurance that they’ve done this before.
Whether you’re defense or plaintiff, the facts of a case are what they are — but the other side has an obvious interest in winning, even if the facts are not in their favour. If both sides are using IMEs to help present their case, the objectivity of your examiner is paramount.
An expert who has been consistently accused of bias in the past will not appear as strong as one who has a lengthy reputation of being objective and fair. It would be worth your time to ask questions such as how long the expert has been practising and performing IMEs. You should also search for comments previously made about them and be certain that they’re fully qualified to conduct the assessment in anticipation of any challenges.
Don’t do it alone!
Work with a company experienced in facilitating IMEs and connecting lawyers with the right expert advice. Rather than seeking out a specialist individual yourself, you can work with someone like Western Medical Assessments’ Medical Director Dr. Roger Hodkinson to simplify the process. With relationships spanning decades with thousands of clinical experts, screened for objectivity and excellence, the hard work of finding the right expert for your case can be taken off your desk.
This sort of advice can also help you better understand the nuances of the case and how to use that knowledge effectively in settlement discussions. Whether you’re a lawyer or paralegal, don’t hesitate to get started by reaching out to discuss your case via a free phone call with our Medical Director at 780.433.1191.
Interested in more? We've got some content for Lawyers to get started.