As part of your claim, you will be required to attend a medico-legal appointment where an assessment must be made of the injury you have suffered and how that impacts on your day to day living. In order to support your claim, we must obtain expert medical evidence to confirm the nature, severity and impact of your injury. This evidence is generally obtained by way of requesting an appropriate doctor or healthcare professional to write a report.
In order to write a report the doctor will need to review the relevant documents and then examine you during a medico-legal appointment. To this end, an appointment will be made for you to attend the doctor or healthcare professional at his or her rooms. The defendant to your case will also wish to obtain an expert report regarding the same issues and will request you attend a similar appointment with a doctor or healthcare professional of their choice; you are obligated to attend such an appointment.
Who has organised the appointment?
The appointment will have been organised either by us or by the lawyer for the other side. Our letter to you containing details of the appointment will identify who has organised the appointment. If it is not clear to you who is requesting your attendance at the appointment, please do not hesitate to contact us prior to attending.
What should I take to the appointment?
In most cases, the doctor or health care professional will have been provided with all the information he or she requires by us or by the defendant’s lawyers. If there are x-rays or results of other tests that are in your possession and may be relevant to the appointment, please check with us whether or not you should take those along with you. In most cases, you will be asked to take x-rays and test results with you to the appointment.
Why has this doctor or healthcare professional been chosen?
The doctor or healthcare professional with whom your appointment has been organised is specialised in the area to which your injury relates. They have been chosen because they are appropriately qualified and because they have agreed to assess you and provide a written report on their findings. They will usually have experience in providing medico-legal reports and, in most cases, we will be familiar with their work from our experience in previous cases. This is true whether the appointment has been organised by us or by the other side.
The doctor or healthcare professional has a duty to the court to provide an impartial opinion. He or she should not be influenced in their opinion by which side (that is, us or the defendant’s lawyer) has organised the appointment.
What will happen at the appointment?
In most cases, attending an appointment for medico-legal purposes will be much the same as attending an appointment with a doctor or healthcare professional for advice or treatment outside of the litigation scenario. The major difference is that the doctor or healthcare professional who has been engaged to provide a medico-legal report is not seeing you with a view to providing you with treatment or advice and will not do so.
The doctor or healthcare professional will have been provided with information concerning your claim and your medical condition prior to the appointment. In most circumstances, the doctor or healthcare professional will wish to:
- obtain a history from you;
- ask you questions regarding the injury you have sustained;
- ask you questions regarding any treatment you have received for your injury;
- review any relevant test results or x-rays;
- conduct a physical examination and / or specified tests or assessments.
What should I do at the appointment?
It is important that you attend the appointment as organised; most medico-legal experts will charge a quite substantial cancellation or non-attendance fee. In the event that the appointment was organised by the defendant’s lawyers and you do not attend, it is highly likely that they will require you to pay any such fees incurred. It is also important that you are on time for the appointment and have with you any documents or x-rays you have been requested to take.
Whether the appointment is organised by us or the other side it is important that you co-operate with the doctor or healthcare professional concerned and answer their questions honestly. In the event that the examination or assessment causes you pain or discomfort, you should express that to the doctor or healthcare professional concerned, but still co-operate to the best of your ability.
In the event that you feel the doctor or healthcare professional does not act in a polite and professional manner, we would request that you co-operate to the best of your ability and inform us of your concerns following the appointment.
Is the appointment confidential?
Unlike other medical appointments you might attend, a medico-legal appointment will not be confidential in the same way. What you tell the doctor or healthcare professional and the doctor or healthcare professional’s examination findings and opinion will form the contents of a report which will be provided to us or the defendant’s lawyers for use in your case.
What happens with the report the doctor or healthcare professional writes?
Where we have organised the appointment, the report will be sent directly to us and we will provide you with a copy of the report once we have it. It is not uncommon for it to take 4 to 6 weeks after the appointment for us to receive the written report.
In the event the appointment was organised by the defendant’s lawyers, the report will be sent directly to them. If the defendant intends to rely on the contents of the report, they will have to serve the report on us in due course, and we will subsequently provide you with a copy. If the report does not assist the defendant in their case, the report will not be provided to us.
Can I take someone to the appointment with me?
You are certainly welcome to have someone accompany you to the appointment. However, whether or not the doctor or healthcare professional will allow that person to be present during your consultation is largely dependent on the doctor or healthcare professional themselves. In most cases, the person will be able to stay with you, unless their presence is likely to have a detrimental impact on the examination. In the event that you do have someone accompany you, it is important that they do not answer questions for you or otherwise interfere in the examination in anyway.
In the event that you feel you need an interpreter to attend the appointment with you, please notify us immediately, so that we can ensure appropriate arrangements are in place for a professional interpreter to be present. Family or friends are generally not considered to be appropriate persons to interpret for you at a medico-legal examination.
If you have any other questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our expert health lawyers on 4929 3995.