When you make a work accident claim, it will be necessary to collate various elements of medical evidence. This is nothing for you to worry about: it is an important part of the claims process and is there to help prove the extent of your injuries.
Why is Medical Evidence Necessary?
In order for a work accident claim to succeed, you must be able to establish that:-
1. Someone breached their duty of care towards you. For example, your employer failed to enforce a safe system of work, or your co-worker failed to carry out their role competently;
2. This breach caused you to suffer injury, physically and/or psychologically.
It is the second point – known as causation – that will require the use of medical evidence. Not only will this verify the presence of your injury, it will also support the claim that your injury was caused as a direct result of your work accident.
How is Medical Evidence Obtained?
The first step your solicitor will take when collecting medical evidence is to obtain your medical records – both from your GP and from any hospitals you have visited in the course of your treatment. These will then be sent to a medical expert for review.
Your solicitor will take care when choosing which expert to instruct, and will only select someone who is able to comment on your injury. For example, if you have suffered a musculo-skeletal problem, an orthopaedic surgeon will be contacted. This means your expert many not live locally. In more complex cases, it may also necessary to instruct more than one medical expert.
Once your records have been reviewed, it is highly likely that the expert will want to assess you in person. Your solicitor will arrange an appointment on your behalf, taking into consideration a suitable time and place. After your injuries have been examined, the expert will be in a position to write a report. This will be entirely impartial; it is not intended to benefit either claimant or defendant. Rather, it is an objective opinion as to:-
• The cause of your injuries;
• The extent of your pain and suffering;
• Prognosis – ie. the extent of future pain and suffering;
• How your injuries have effected your life, both now and in the future.
What if the Medical Report is not favourable?
If the medical report is not favourable, in that it does not support your claim, your solicitor will discuss with you what action to take next. This may involve instructing another medical expert, or trying to settle the claim with a lower compensation settlement.
On the other hand, if the report is supportive, your solicitor will use the medical expert’s opinion to help value your claim. This is known as quantum. When a suitable sum has been calculated, the figure will be proposed to the other side and negotiations will ensue. If a settlement can be reached in this way, your case will have to go to court. You will receive your compensation in full soon afterwards.
Work accident claims involve highly complex legal work but your solicitor must also have a firm grasp of medical concepts. So make sure that when instructing your solicitor, they are a work accident specialist.
Tim Bishop is the senior partner of Bonallack and Bishop – Solicitors with specialist teams of work accident and medical negligence experts acting for clients nationwide. For more information about claiming compensation, visit their specialist websites at http://www.workaccidentsolicitors.co.uk or http://www.themedicalnegligencesolicitor.co.uk, or alternatively give their claim team a call on 01722 422300.