The Importance Of Your Treating Doctor In A Personal Injury Case

A common type of witness in personal injury cases is the injured person’s treating doctor.  For example, say you break your shoulder in a motorcycle accident or car crash.  You have surgeries, physical therapy, hardware implanted, ligaments cut and moved, and possibly permanent pain or loss of movement in the shoulder.  You want and deserve fair compensation for all that.  Your treating doctor can help you do that, and is sometimes a necessary component of your personal injury case.

In many personal injury cases there’ll be contested issues regarding what caused your injuries, how bad they were, whether certain types of treatment were necessary, and whether you’ll have any future or permanent problems.  It’s very difficult, sometimes impossible, to make those arguments without testimony from your treating doctor.  Even if the judge does allow you to present some or all of your injury case without evidence from a medical professional, why would you want to?  How and why will a jury give you anything for these issues unless a medical expert explains them to the jury?

There’s not much you can do to change your treating doctor’s opinions.  Some doctors are predisposed to conservative opinions and are unlikely to set off fireworks in the courtroom for you.  But you can at least make sure that your treating doctor has good medical facts to report to the jury and perhaps base a helpful opinion on.  Here are some methods to increase the possibility of receiving good testimony from your doctor:

1.  Be honest, truthfully and accurately describe your physical pain and issues, and don’t leave anything out.

2.  Get along with your doctor.

3.  Do what the doctor tells you to do.

4.  Don’t miss scheduled medical appointments, ever, for any reason.  If you must miss an appointment, call ahead and cancel, then reschedule for the earliest possible date.

5.  Don’t delay seeing a doctor for your injuries.  The longer you wait, the more difficult it is to prove that your injuries are connected to the accident.

You can also hire an “independent medical expert” to serve as your medical evidence, but juries tend to believe your treating doctor over the word of a hired gun expert witness.  The treating doctors have worked with you the whole time, the independent medical expert has not.  Juries often give treating doctors more credibility, so it’s important that you work well with your treating doctors so that they’ll be in the best position to give useful trial testimony.


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