With about 3.5 million Canadians visiting the Orlando area every year, we have a lot of Canadian drivers on our roads. And presumably, they get involved in their share of Florida car accidents. Our two country’s legal systems are similar in most ways when it comes to car accident injury law and personal injury lawsuits. A recent paper by two professors from the University of Alberta shed light on the legal role and responsibility of doctors in diagnosing and treating car accident injuries.
The professors, one a doctor and the other a lawyer, wrote On matters of causation in personal injury cases: Considerations in forensic examination for the European Journal of Rheumatology. It’s an in-depth look at how doctors shape verdicts in personal injury cases. They focus on determining the validity of plaintiffs’ claims and the extent of the defendants’ liability. The authors study several areas of contention, including what they call “secondary gain” and “convenient focus.”
Insurance Companies: Blame the Victim
The first, causation, seems pretty straight forward, as in, “what caused the injured person’s symptoms?” This is where a doctor weighs in on whether the negligent actions of another directly caused the plaintiff’s injuries. In other words, is the guy slamming into the back of your car at the stoplight responsible for your whiplash? Insurance company lawyers will naturally deny responsibility, citing one of the other subjects: convenient focus and secondary gain. These are basically the main ways in which personal injury defense lawyers blame all the plaintiff’s woes on the plaintiff. Insurance companies know how to use car accident injury law to minimize their liability.
Convenient focus, the authors write, means “the plaintiff was using the accident injuries as… an excuse to continue irresponsible behavior.” In the Secondary gain theory of bad plaintiff behavior, injured people actually enjoy all of the attention that comes with car accident injuries. Not only that, they seek to profit by it. “In seeking the maintenance of the sick role, the individual attempts to convert a pre-existing life of discontent or misery into a socially acceptable form of disability that then leads to secondary gain,” the professors said.
Rear-End Collision Example
The article outlines a whiplash scenario from a rear-end collision.
“The plaintiff was subsequently taken to the hospital, and she was told that she suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck, shoulder, and back, for which she was given minimal treatment at the hospital. The plaintiff underwent treatment with medications and physiotherapy for several months. The plaintiff’s physician found the plaintiff to be improving physically, but her progress was inordinately slow. The plaintiff had developed a chronic pain syndrome and was still suffering significantly and unable to work 1 year after the collision. The plaintiff went on to receive numerous medications, massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic therapy, and herbal remedies. There was little overall improvement by 2 years post-collision… due to whiplash injury.”
Insurance company lawyers took a different view. They claim that the plaintiff is a slacker and a loser whose life was in shambles before the accident.
The defense argued that the plaintiff had been in a minor collision. Her injuries should have resolved within months to 1 year of the accident. Further, the continuance of chronic pain was primarily due to psychological factors. The defense added that the plaintiff had a pre-existing condition. That she was at high risk for developing psychological disorder in time. This could be expressed as chronic pain. She had a recent divorce, in which she was unable to receive the expected financial settlement. She had suffered from a life-long history of recurrent depression. They expressed further that the plaintiff was receiving numerous gains from her illness and was not motivated to get better.
Personal Injury Attorney as Victim Advocate
The process may differ slightly in American and Canadian car accident injury law, but the dynamics are basically the same. An injured accident victim will likely have to fight for fair compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Many car accident injuries involve soft tissue damage. In the case of Whiplash, for example, there may be no objective way to measure harm to an accident victim. Did the car accident cause these injuries—or is she just taking advantage of her situation? We know that insurance companies advocate for their own best interests. That’s why accident victims are well-advised to talk with an experienced personal injury attorney before they talk with an insurance company trying to settle a claim.
There’s little reason to not talk with an attorney since most personal injury lawyers offer a free case review. And with a contingency fee, you generally don’t pay anything unless and until you win. When someone causes an accident that hurts you, you want the best personal injury lawyer you can find. can find. Consider the Orlando car accident attorneys at Martinez Manglardi PA. We’ve been fighting for accident victim’s rights in Florida for more than 30 years. You can get a free case review from an expert at one of our convenient Central Florida locations by calling 407-846-2240.