The main reasons why you require medical evidence as part of your claim are:-
- To prove medical causation i.e. that you have suffered an injury that was caused by the accident in respect of which you are claiming;
- To assist with your recovery; and
- To value your claim.
Proving medical causation
It may seem obvious but, in the absence of you suffering an injury as a result of someone else’s fault, you will not be entitled to compensation i.e. even if someone else causes an accident, unless you suffer an injury as a result of that accident, there is no claim for compensation.
The law requires you, the claimant, to prove that you suffered an injury as a result of the accident in respect of which you are claiming. The way to do this is to obtain a medical report prepared by a medical professional.
Medical experts are experienced in not only the treatment of various ailments but also in understanding how those ailments came about. Therefore based on your description of the accident the medical expert will be able to form a view as to how you suffered your injury.
The type of medical professional that will be instructed to prepare your report will depend upon the type of injury that you suffer. Most personal injury claims involve bony type injuries and therefore it is common for orthopaedic surgeons, who specialise in treating bony injuries, to be instructed to prepare medical reports.
There are of course some accidents and injuries where proving medical causation is more straightforward than others. If you fall over in work and break your leg, proving medical causation is unlikely to be too much of an issue. However, in an industrial disease claim where someone, for example, is claiming that their employment has caused a particular lung disease, proving medical causation can be more complicated. This is because the person may have been exposed to substances outside of work that could have caused the disease and therefore proving that it was in fact the work that caused the disease can be more tricky.
To assist with your recovery
The purpose of a personal injury claim is to try, as best as possible, to put you in the position that you would have been in had the accident not occurred. Therefore, your lawyer will be asking the medical expert how to fix you and get you back to how you were immediately before the accident. The medical expert will be asked to provide a diagnosis in respect of your condition and what further treatment you might benefit from. Your lawyer will then strive to put in a place a treatment plan to get you back on the road to recovery.
You are not restricted to receiving such treatment on the NHS. Therefore if your claim is successful you will be able to claim compensation for the private cost of the treatment so that you don’t have to spend time on NHS waiting lists and can, therefore, get back on the road to recovery quicker.
To value your claim
One of the main factors affecting the value of your claim is the length of time that it will take you to recover, that is if you are able to recover at all. Sadly there are some cases where a full recovery is not possible and in these cases compensation is more likely to be higher. Your lawyer will, therefore, need for the medical expert to provide a prognosis (i.e. a forecast regarding if and when you will recover) in respect of your injuries.
To many people’s frustration, as some conditions take a while to settle, it is not always possible for the medical expert to confirm what the diagnosis is immediate. The medical evidence, therefore, has a huge impact on the pace and direction of a claim. It is of utmost importance that claimants tread with extreme caution when considering settling their claims whilst medical prognosis is uncertain. Claimants only get one chance to settle their claims and once settled there is no going back for more. Therefore, if you settle your claim hoping that you will make a full recovery but later realise that you will not recover as well as expected, there is a real danger that you could under-settle your claim. This is why claimants should never accept offers from insurance companies before speaking to an experienced personal injury lawyer.