Understanding Medico-Legal Examinations

As part of your personal injury claim you will be asked to go to a medical examination probably both on behalf of your solicitor and on behalf of the insurance company.

The following will help you understand the examination and your part in it.

Aims

The medical examination aims to find out the following: –

1.What injury or medical condition you have;
2.The cause of that injury or medical condition;
3.If your condition is caused by an accident or by your work conditions;
4.If an accident or your work has aggravated some underlying condition.

The examination is intended to be an independent and honest assessment of your injury and is to be as impartial as possible.

Who arranges the examination?

The examination will either be arranged by your solicitor or one of the other parties to the legal case such as the insurance company or a solicitor acting on behalf of the insurance company.

You may also be asked to be examined by an independent government body such as the Workers Compensation Commission or the Motor Accidents Authority.

You have the right to know who has arranged the examination and if you are unsure you should ask your solicitor.

A report will be sent from the doctor who examines you to the person who has arranged the examination.  That person will also usually pay the doctor for the report.  That report is usually confidential.

Who is the doctor?

The doctor is usually a specialist and on most occasions is a consultant which means that they have retired from private practice.  You are entitled to know the precise qualifications and specialty of the doctor who examines you.

Usually the doctor is not employed by a legal firm or an insurance company.   The report should be independent, that is, saying exactly what the doctor thinks about your injury or condition.  The doctor is not aiming to be for one side in a legal case.

As you are not seeing the doctor as his/her patient, the doctor is not able to give you advice about your problem.  The doctor cannot give you treatment.   You should seek this advice from your own medical practitioner.

What do I take to the appointment?

Firstly, you should ensure that you have the correct appointment date, time and address.  If you need an interpreter you should ensure that your solicitor or the person that has arranged the appointment has also arranged an interpreter.

You should take with you all x-rays, scans and other tests you have had relevant to your condition so that the doctor can make a thorough assessment.

What will happen at the examination?

The examining doctor will introduce himself and by agreement may allow you to have a friend or relative with you during the examination.  That person should not interrupt or interfere with the examination.

The doctor will ask a number of questions about your injury or accident and the circumstances that caused it.  He or she will ask about your treatment and how the injury affects you now.  He or she may ask you about your past medical history, employment history and lifestyle.

The doctor will carry out a physical examination, in particular on the injured parts of your body but also other parts of your body as well.

If the doctor asks you to do something that will cause pain then please mention this to the doctor.  You are supposed to co-operate with the doctor however you do not need to be in pain.

If the doctor asks you a question that you do not wish to answer then you may say so.  However this may be mentioned in the medical report.

The doctor should carry out the examination in a respectful manner and not hurt you.

How long will it take?

Usually if there is a complex medical history and examination to take place, the doctor’s assessment may take an hour or more.  However many examinations are completed in less than that time.

The doctor will ask you questions which he/she considers relevant and will be aiming to let you go as soon as possible.

If you believe that the doctor did not undertake a thorough enough examination, then you should tell your solicitor.

What if there are problems during the examination?

If you have any questions about the examination you can ask the doctor.

If the doctor causes you pain or asks inappropriate questions, then you should also mention this to the doctor and after the examination also to your solicitor.

If you believe there is a complete breakdown in your relationship with the doctor, then you may say so and you have the right to leave the examination.  If you do however you may be liable for the cost of the examination.

Conclusion

During the course of your case you will be asked to attend probably a number of doctors both on behalf of your solicitor and on behalf of the insurance company or their solicitor.  You should be pleasant, honest and straight forward.  Once the examination is concluded the doctor will forward a copy of the report to whoever arranged the examination.  This usually takes around two weeks but can be slower.

If your solicitor arranged the appointment he will contact you upon receipt of the report.  If the report is arranged by the insurance company, then you may or may not get to see the report.  If the report is supportive of your injuries then it is likely that you will not get to see the report.  This is however usually a good sign as the only medical evidence available will be from your doctors.

If you have any further questions regarding medico-legal examinations, please do not hesitate to ask your solicitor.

By Matthew Garling

Publish Date: March 18, 2008

Article Source: http://www.garlinglawyers.com.au/medico-legal-examinations