Occupational Therapist – A Crucial Expert Witness in a Personal Injury Case

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Occupational Therapist – A Crucial Expert Witness in a Personal Injury Case

Occupational Therapist Role

A serious injury will result in an impairment to an individual’s ability to pursue employment and ability to perform housekeeping chores. The question is how do you prove to a court, an independent person, the true extent of the victim’s limitations or disability.

Even in serious injuries such as pelvic fractures and femur fractures which are common with seat-belted occupants nowadays, the court will need a detailed assessment as to how these injuries actually affect the victim’s life now and into the future. Occupational therapists are trained in normal development, in disease and injury, as well as the progression of disease. An occupational therapist is also trained in rehabilitation and how to adapt environments to allow for the victim’s participation at work and other activities to ensure optimal performance.

Often a “Functional Capacity Evaluation” will be undertaken which takes four to eight hours, sometimes on two separate days, in which the personal injury victim is put through a battery of tests to determine the true extent of his or her disability. Then, by combining data from the Functional Capacity Evaluation with a home assessment, the occupational therapy expert can provide objective evidence as to the loss of capacity to perform work and housekeeping chores.

Vocational Consultant Role

Once this report is completed, then the personal injury lawyer will have to hire a Vocational Consultant who is an expert on various vocations or jobs who will utilize the limitations in the occupational therapist’s report to determine what jobs are now available to the victim given his or her limitations in the occupational therapist’s expert report.  The Vocational Consultant is knowledgeable about various occupations and the physical and stamina requirements of each occupation.

Occupational Therapist As Your Witness

Thus, it is easy to see why personal injury litigation is difficult and expensive as the personal injury lawyer must rely on numerous medical experts from various disciplines and each expert will bill the lawyer for his or her time in assessing the injury victim and then in writing the medical-legal report.  If successful these expert costs are paid by the insurance company for the party at fault over and above any agreed on settlement amount for the victim.

Handel Law Firm is Alberta’s serious personal injury and fatal accident law firm serving the communities of Red Deer, Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie.

By | 2017-06-26T21:02:27+00:00 October 7th, 2015|Medical - Legal Issues|0 Comments

About the Author:

Mr. Brent Handel, J.D., Q.C. is the head of the Personal Injury and Fatal Accident Group at Handel Law Firm.

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