How Insurance Companies Attack Bad Back Claims

Increasingly we are seeing a trend that started many years ago but continues today. This involves the use of so-called “independent” experts to provide testimony in personal injury cases to the effect that the claimant has suffered no injury at all or, if any injury, only a minor one. Insurance companies employ so-called “independent” medical examiners to review radiology films, many times, so that a radiologist can testify that based upon an examination of the film, there is no evidence of trauma seen, thus the plaintiff could not have been injured. Of course, a radiologist cannot see damaged nerve endings or herniated discs on an x-ray film but this does not stop these so-called “independent” experts from providing junk science medical testimony for the jury’s consumption.
This trend is extremely troubling and has been decried by our courts in the past. In a well reasoned opinion written by the Georgia Court of Appeals over twelve (12) years ago, Justice Blackburn wrote “I write separately to point out a systematic problem in the general use of “independent” experts in the litigation process. This problem, while not limited thereto, is greatest where insurance companies use “independent” medical expert opinions to deny or limit payment of claims. The inherent weakness of this process is that the insurance company which controls the flow of business to “independent” medical services providers has a financial interest in the negative finding of such provider…”.
Insurance companies have a huge financial interest in making sure that cliams are not paid. One way to do this is to hire a so-called “independent” experts. It is disheartening to see a medical doctor testify for money paid that someone is not injured when the doctor, of course, has no way of knowing whether such is the case. Insurance companies typically get what they pay for which is a medical opinion that the claimant is either not injured at all or shows no objective evidence of injury based upon an examination of diagnostic films or other tests. Such testimony is extremely dangerous because it appeals to the cynicism of jurors who may believe that someone seeking money is simply out for secondary gain and is not legitimately injured. While there are fraud claims and while there are claims of embellishment and exaggeration, in many legitimate claims, nonetheless, these so-called “independent” experts are providing testimony that serves no other purpose but to deny justice to those who have been legitimately injured and are in need of adequate and just compensation for their injuries.
As we shall blog about it in future entries, the best way to attack this problem is to attack the hired gun witness by showing their financial interest in the proceedings and their inherent bias. By proving that the so-called “independent” expert is not independent at all, hopefully, a jury will understand that paid for testimony is not the most reliable evidence one could hope to rely upon in a personal injury case.

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