What Is The Difference Between A Treating Doctor And A Medico Legal Expert For The Purpose Of A Personal Injury Claim?
If you have been involved in an accident at work, a road traffic accident, an accident in public premises for example which was not your fault and you were injured as a result of the accident, you may wish to bring a personal injury claim.
The initial obstacle to overcome is to establish that someone else was liable for causing your accident. For example you may have been involved in a road traffic accident which was not your fault if you were stationary at traffic lights and someone collides into the rear of your vehicle. You may be an innocent passenger or a pedestrian that is struck by a vehicle at a traffic controlled crossing.
Once it has been identified that someone else is liable for your accident and that prospects of success despite whether liability is denied are reasonable then you will need to prove that your accident has caused injuries as a result of the accident.
Quantum and causation
In order to value a claim, your medical records will need to be requested in the first instance. These are contemporaneous records which may detail how the accident happened and what injuries were sustained and what treatment you received. This can include
- GP records
- Hospital records
- Ambulance records
- Physiotherapy records
If medical causation can be established then your Solicitor may wish to obtain a medico legal report for your injuries.
What is a Treating Doctor?
If you have been injured and you are receiving treatment from your GP and or hospital such as a consultant and you may be referred for physiotherapy treatment for example. They will provide a treatment plan for you to provide the best plan to aid the recovery of your injuries. This is usually through the NHS but if you have private medical insurance you may be receiving such treatment through a private medical provider. It is important to follow the advice of your treating doctors.
What is a Medico legal expert?
As part of your claim your solicitor may wish to obtain a report from a medico legal expert. This could include
- Orthopaedic consultant
- Accident and Emergency Consultant
- Plastics expert
- Dental expert
- Maxilla facial expert
- Clinical Psychologist
This is not an exhaustive list.
The Civil Procedure Rules provide guidance on instructing medico legal experts. The purpose of the report is for the expert to be independent to provide an opinion on the injuries the claimant has sustained as a result of the accident and to provide an opinion and prognosis and recommendations for further investigations which could include MRI scans, x rays etc. or treatment such as physiotherapy treatment and occupational therapy for example.
As a client who reviews the medical report and when you are assessed, you can often mistake a medico legal expert for a treating doctor. This is not the case.
Part 35 of the Civil Procedure Rules confirm that the expert needs to be instructed to give or provided expert evidence for the purpose of the proceedings. The duty is to the Court. No party may call an expert or put in evidence of an experts report without the courts permission.
What if I am not happy with my medical report?
All medico legal experts have a duty to the Court to provide an opinion based on a medical examination and most often a review of medical records which include past and present records. If you simply do not agree with the opinion of an expert you cannot ask the expert to change his or her opinion. Courts do not allow claimant’s to expert shop.
It is possible to raise questions with a medico legal expert to clarify the prognosis period. If you do not agree with the contents of a medical report your solicitor will discuss what aspects of the report that you do not agree with. If there is something factually incorrect with the medical report then questions can be raised with the expert to amend this.
Often is higher value claims the defendant representative may wish to obtain their own medical evidence. This would involve you being assessed by another independent medical expert that will provide an opinion and prognosis. Often when this happens, the Court will direct for the experts to provide a joint report to consider what areas they agree and disagree on in terms of a prognosis to assist the Court.
Who pays for the medical report?
Usually where liability is admitted for the claim, the defendant insurer will pay for the cost of the medical report/s.
In conclusion whilst a medico legal expert may make recommendations for future treatment and investigation, it is important whilst you are under the care of the treating doctors, you follow their advice and treatment plan to aid the recovery of your injuries.
If you have suffered an injury due to somebody’s else negligence, you may be entitled to compensation to help get your life back on track. For a free consultation with our specialist personal injury solicitors please call us today 0808 252 5231 or request a call back online.