In certain states, there is a clause called a “Serious Injury” threshold. Depending on the state, in order to bring a lawsuit against a responsible party, certain conditions need to be met. When trying to prove in court whether the “Serious Injury” threshold was met, the use of a medical expert may be required. If an attorney is trying a case that involves a “Serious Injury” threshold and is in need of an expert medical witness, contact APEXpert Witness, who can help you find a professional witness in order to provide their expert opinion. Given the intricacies of the medical and law fields, here are more details on the “Serious Injury” threshold and five things attorneys or medical expert witnesses may need to know.
When personal injury is the result of negligence two conditions need to be shown:
- The plaintiff incurred an economic loss of $50,000 or more.
The plaintiff suffered “serious injury” that results in one of the following:
- Significant disfigurement
- Loss of a fetus
- The permanent loss or limitation of an organ
- An injury that impairs the plaintiff from performing daily activities
Gaps in Treatment
Any gaps in medical treatment need to be addressed. Discontinuation of treatment by the plaintiff raises questions regarding the seriousness of the injury. Be sure to point out these gaps as it will be helpful in determining whether a lawsuit will be upheld. One of the ways in which the gap will be explained is if the plaintiff ceased treatment because of lack of insurance.
There may be cases of pre-existing medical conditions, prior to a lawsuit. If that is the case, the defendant can raise the question if a significant medical condition was present (pre-existing) before the lawsuit was brought to court, and the defendant may move for summary judgment. The plaintiff has to respond to these questions. In this situation, it is best to have a medical expert testify if the pre-existing condition was the actual cause of the injury. An asymptomatic condition may or may not influence the course of the case, depending on the testimony of the expert witness.
The plaintiff must provide medical evidence that contains sufficient objective information regarding the current limited function after injury in comparison to purpose and use of the affected organ or dysfunction of a body system compared with the normal function in question. For example, if the plaintiff has lost some functions of the leg after injury (e.g., limping), the degree of dysfunction in comparison to normal function (walking, running) has to be demonstrated. If sufficient evidence is not provided, it may not qualify for a “Serious Injury” threshold. Additional diagnostic tests or involvement of other experts may be necessary to prove “Serious Injury.”
Medical records should be clear, legible and approved by the judge, and sources of notes and other documentation easily identifiable. This is somewhat easier in the era of electronic medical records but can be challenging with handwritten physician’s notes. Poorly legible or unsigned notes or reports from a medical professional may be not admissible. This can be difficult right before court, so it best to submit medical records for review in advance.
If you are looking for a medical expert to aid in a case where “Serious Injury” threshold is involved, contact APEXpert Witness. For a reliable and trustworthy medical witness, call us today.