In every case, we know that an accident happened, and we know how it happened. We know what the medical treatment was, who did it, and where it was done.
The severity of an injury really determines the value of a personal injury case. Obviously, there are other factors that drive the value up or down. Most personal injury lawyers would agree that the victim of a drunk driver is likely to get more money. Often the perception that someone was on their cell phone or otherwise distracted can drive a verdict higher.
Injuries come in all different forms, from a catastrophic injury, such as the loss of a limb or paralysis, to bumps, cuts, and bruises. The monetary value to a large degree corresponds to the extent of the injury.
There are defenses to liability, such as contributory negligence meaning that the person that got hurt was in some way at fault too. If there is a strong defense, the value of the case decreases.
In cases where there is medical treatment, the courts will not allow, by and large, an ordinary person to testify about their injuries unless and until a physician testifies that the injuries were caused by the accident that the lawsuit is about. In other words, you can have the accident report showing how the accident happened on one side and on the other side a stack of medical records showing what the treatment has been. Without a doctor’s testimony to bridge the two, the medical treatment doesn’t come into court unless a doctor says it was both caused by the accident and necessary for the treatment of the injuries.
Insurance companies are really using this requirement to not pay claims. Unless the medical records are clear and the injuries are severe, insurance companies often elect not to pay or pay a very small value.
One of the problems that we see is that the court system has for many years allowed doctors the privilege of testifying by deposition and excusing them from having to come to court to testify. That privilege does not extend to physician assistants and nurse practitioners (PAs and CRNPs). We are seeing, and will continue to see, more treatment by nurse practitioners and physician assistants. These professionals are certainly entitled to act as expert witnesses and testify to causation and treatment in most cases; however, they have to testify live in court.
Buckle up, drive safely, and as always, your referrals are appreciated!