As detailed in the National Law Journal, expert testimony is extremely important in personal injury cases, be they car accident cases or any other type of injury claim, and the situation is only deteriorating. Defense lawyers love to have car accident victims see an “independent” physician for an IME – an independent medical examination. Many times, these “IME doctors” work almost exclusively for defense lawyers. Essentially they get paid to testify that the injured person is not really injured at all, or less injured than they are claiming.
Meanwhile, the situation isn’t much better for the injured person with their own treating physician. In West Virginia, many treating physicians hold their patients captive. That is, they refuse to give an opinion on their diagnosis, or whether they have reached MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement – i.e., the point at which you can commence a personal injury lawsuit because you know what your damages are), unless they are paid cash up-front.
Just this past week, I had an orthopedic surgeon in southern West Virginia tell their patient (and my client) that he would not give an opinion regarding the diagnosis unless I (the lawyer) paid him $1,000 up-front. Even given that this is unethical on the doctor’s behalf, the lawyer or client is forced to pay. If you don’t when it comes time for the doctor to be deposed by the insurance company’s lawyer, he will make the patient pay – his testimony will be much less favorable to the patient than it could have been had he been paid the money. The end result is that the insurance companies have an advantage and continuously fight to maintain it.
This makes it even that much more important to have a car accident lawyer who is aggressive and refuses to take no for an answer.
– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Car Accident Attorney.