Using Medical Experts in Personal Injury Cases

Ethel Gonzales

Personal injury litigation is a very complex process for plaintiff’s attorneys, defense attorneys and injured victims alike. While plaintiff’s attorneys and defense attorneys are experts in the law, personal injury cases often require the aid and assistance of a medical expert in order to review and understand the implications of the medical evidence and medical bills associated with the case.

When an accident occurs, plaintiffs are entitled under tort laws to seek justice from the person, people or entity who allegedly caused harm. In the American system of jurisprudence, the justice that an injured victim seeks is compensation, which usually comes in the form of monetary compensation. This is different than the justice sought by a district attorney in a criminal law case, although the same wrongful act can often lead to both a district attorney pressing criminal charges and a victim seeking monetary compensation.

When a victim does seek monetary compensation, he or she must prove a case in court or must settle outside of court for an amount that is agreeable to all parties involved. This means a plaintiff must prove injuries occurred, prove the cause of those injuries, show the extent of those injuries, and show the cost of treatment.

Medical experts can assist plaintiffs in building their case and in gathering the necessary evidence to demonstrate both the severity of the injuries and the extent of monetary compensation appropriate for those injuries. Medical experts can also work for a defendant, helping to evaluate whether a plaintiff is being honest either about the extent or cause of the injuries, or whether a plaintiff’s medical bills are reasonable based on the injuries that are present.

Types of Medical Experts

Medical experts come in many different forms, depending on the role they are playing in the personal injury claims. For instance, nurses can assist in understanding a medical diagnosis and in explaining the likely consequences and complications of that diagnosis. They can also decipher between pre-existing conditions and injuries, and those that occurred as a result of the present claim.

Medical coders understand the complex system of codes used by insurance companies and doctors for billing and payment for services. A medical coder can thus help the plaintiff or the defendant in keeping tabs on the cost of treatment. An auditor can review the bills in order to make sure that they are reasonable; that there are no financial irregularities occurring; and that the services billed were actually rendered.

Finally, life care planners serve a special role in personal injury cases and must be consummate medical experts. Life care planners estimate the level of ongoing care that an injured plaintiff will need if the plaintiff was disabled in such a way that necessitates many more years, or even a lifetime, of medical assistance. Because a plaintiff is entitled to be compensated for all medical costs arising from an injury caused by a liable defendant, a plaintiff should be able to collect the full amount of medical costs that will be necessary for the rest of his or her life. A life care planner will be responsible for determining what that ongoing care cost will be. As a result, the plaintiff isn’t left high and dry without the ability to provide for later care, and a defendant doesn’t get stuck paying for a lifetime of treatments that aren’t really necessary after all.

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