Motor Accident Compensation

Why do I have to see an ‘independent doctor’?

Adelaide injury Lawyer Tina Bouras writes about the role of the independent doctor in an injury compensation claim.

Many people wonder why they have to see an independent doctor for their personal injury claim, when they have been consulting and receiving treatment from a regular doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor or other medical practitioner. 

Firstly, a claim for compensation is based on evidence. The role of a lawyer is to put the right questions to the doctors, to gather the information and evidence required to support a claim for compensation. By gathering relevant information, as lawyers, we are able to assess the amount of a personal injury claim.

In most cases, the medical evidence of a treating doctor or treatment provider is required in the first instance, to obtain a relevant medical history and to support the need for ongoing treatment. 

However, an independent doctor is not a treating doctor. Independent doctors are experts in their field of specialty and are able to provide a medical report for medico- legal purposes. They have additional qualifications and are able to examine and assess any permanent impairment that may arise from an injury. For example, occupational physicians are consultants who specialise in evaluating musculo-skeletal injuries.  An orthopaedic surgeon specialises in orthpaedic injuries including fractures, joint replacements, the need for surgery etc. 

An independent doctor is not an advocate for a party. A report from an independent doctor is used to assist both the lawyer and the insurer in better understanding the extent of an injury and the impact, if any, to an individual in the work or home environment. 

Ultimately, when providing an expert report, the independent expert has an overriding duty to assist the Court on matters relevant to the expert’s area of expertise.

So, you may have already seen many practitioners throughout the rehabilitation process and seeing another one may at first seem unnecessary, but rest assured that an independent doctor is extremely important to your compensation claim.

Author: Tina Bouras

For a free initial interview about your injury compensation claim, call Tina on (08) 8212 1077.