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What will happen at your medical examination?

When one of my clients is involved in an accident and makes a claim, most will be required to have a medical examination so a report can be prepared. This will comment on the accident circumstances, injuries, treatment, recommendations, examination as well as future predictions.

Before attending the examination I send these guidance notes which hopefully assist when meeting the expert in preparing the best report possible.

1. Under the Civil Procedure Rules the medical expert’s duty is to the court. Even though I have instructed the expert, this duty overrides his obligation to the client, me or the other side’s insurers/solicitors. Even though the expert may seem sympathetic or hostile he/she has a duty to write a balanced report.

2. Before attending the examination the client should recall what actually happened in the accident and the injuries sustained. This may be obvious but the accident may have been months or even years before the examination so his/her memory could have faded over time.

3. The examination will start with the expert asking about the accident. He/she will not want to know every detail but will want to know how the accident caused the injuries.

4. The expert will want to know what injuries were sustained. The client should not forget any of them as the expert may not amend the report afterwards if one is forgotten!

5. The expert may want an examination – even if there is nothing to see.

6. The expert will ask about treatment. If there are ongoing problems the client should ask about any recommendations and to request that these be put this in the report – even if the client may not wish to undergo the treatment.

7. The expert will ask you how the injuries have affected the client’s life. I always tell my client to be balanced. Never exaggerate, but neither should he/she act like a martyr and suffer in silence. Even if there is only low grade occasional pain he/she must tell the expert.

8. The expert will comment on whether there is a link between the accident and injuries. This is known as causation. Accordingly, if the client has had any previous injuries to the parts of the body which were injured in the accident he/she should volunteer this. This shows an honest claimant. Assuming that these injuries were in the past and that the client had made a full recovery from them, the expert should be reminded that the client was fine before the accident.

9. Most of the time, the expert will have been supplied with copies of all medical records. This is done for three reasons: (i) to verify that actual injuries sustained, (ii) to make sure these injuries were caused in the accident, and (iii) to allow the expert to see if the client had sustained any pre or post accident injuries to the same body part.

10. At the end of the report the expert has to give a prognosis (prediction) as to future recovery. The client should feel free to ask when the injuries will fully recover.

11. Depending on whether the expert has already received the medical records, the report will take on average four weeks to arrive after the examination.

Most importantly though is to ask for advice from a professional personal injury specialist who will guide you through the process of a successful claim.