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Why Does My Doctor Have To Testify In My Personal Injury Lawsuit?

The law requires it in all lawsuits in order to protect insurance companies.

To prove your case, you need a witness who will describe your injury, say whether the accident caused your injury, and say whether your injury is permanent. The law requires that you provide expert testimony saying all these things.

You also need an expert to say what the fair and reasonable cost of your medical treatment is.

Who is an expert? As a practical matter, it means the chiropractor, osteopathic physician or medical doctor who treated you for your injury.

I have hired other doctors to examine my clients and testify in their behalf, but you won’t be able to keep the judge from dismissing the case before it gets to the jury unless a treating doctor is one of your witnesses.

What does the doctor have to say? He not only has to give the opinions I outlined above, but he has to testify that the opinions are based on his knowledge, training, experience and observation, and that he is giving them within a reasonable degree of certainty within his profession.

Does all this make for boring trials? It certainly can, depending on the doctor and the lawyer. The doctor has to spend the first few minutes of his testimony going through his resume, and then describe in detail all his encounters with his patient.

And doctors are very challenging as witnesses. They are smart, and wary of being “tricked.” Many do not like the idea of having to answer a lawyer’s questions.

Good lawyers are always trying to get the doctor to keep his testimony interesting, and, hopefully, short. They can’t tell the doctor what to say; but they can tell him the questions he will be asked.

The challenge is getting the doctor to go along with the lawyer’s “plan” – short, understandable, answers – and knowing what the doctor will say in advance.

Here is a story about doctors being unpredictable.

About five years ago, I tried a case against a very able, honest and well prepared lawyer. One of the most important witnesses was a doctor who had examined the victim.

The lawyer had a videographer record the doctor’s testimony – and my cross examination – on tape. (This was to be used at trial instead of making the doctor show up and wait his turn to testify.)

Because the testimony was so important, the other lawyer met with the doctor for a half hour before the doctor testified.

The doctor said things under oath I was not expecting, that helped my case a lot. He even had a short “fit” when I asked him a question he did not like.

After the deposition I asked the lawyer when he first learned the doctor’s testimony was going to help me. He said “When you did.” My client was awarded a substantial amount of money.

I have been a lawyer over 30 years. A lawyer needs to know the facts of a case before he tries it; this means knowing the doctors involved, and what they will say. I always meet with my client’s doctor before he testifies; in fact, I usually try to meet with him before I decide what to ask for.

If you have a personal injury case in Cincinnati, Ohio or if you want to know what your lawsuit is worth, talk with an experienced Cincinnati Personal Injury Attorney. Call me, William Strubbe, at 513-621-4775.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed.

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