Sand castles are built of sand.
Log cabins are build of wood.
Large office towers and built of concrete, steel and glass.
And personal injury and long term disability cases are built of medical records!
The evidence of any personal injury case establishes the foundation upon which cases are built. The stronger the evidentiary foundation, the stronger the case. And the opposite is of course true. No evidence, or a lack of evidence will translate in to a weaker case.
The basic evidentiary building block in a personal injury or long term disability case are medical records. These records can be from a hospital, rehab facility, doctors office, specialists’ office, nurse practitioner, rehab clinic, or an OHIP Summary.
Without compelling medical evidence to support the injury or disability, establishing damages (the injury) will be difficult for the Plaintiff and his/her personal injury lawyer to do.
It’s simply not enough for an injured or disabled Plaintiff to get up on the stand and state that they were and remain injured due to the negligence of the Defendant.
Of course a Plaintiff is going to say such a thing. They have everything to gain because they are the lead party in the action. The Plaintiff has a lot of skin in the game.
This is why the medical evidence is so important to a personal injury or disability case. For starters, the clinical notes and records are prepared by a licensed third party who has nothing to win or lose in the case. Your doctor or therapist has no skin in the game. They are trusted to provide objective medical evidence about your injuries, disability along with your ability to function (or not).
The clinical notes and records also provide a history of your visits to the doctor/hospital to get treatment etc. This history provides a clear picture or record of what efforts you have made to deal/cope with your injuries. Our lawyers understand that going to the doctor, or simply getting an appointment can be difficult and frustrating. Let’s be honest: going to the doctor isn’t fun, and you would rather be a million and one other places.
But, when you’re involved in a serious personal injury or long term disability case, your every move is being scrutinized by the insurance company, their lawyer, along with the Judge and Jury. When your life is under the microscope and you are making allegations that you’re disabled; you need to have medical proof of that disability. The way that the Court system works in Ontario is such that medical records not only matter: they can make or break your case.
Should you, the injured Plaintiff go around and gather medical records on behalf of your personal injury lawyer? No. It’s important that your records aren’t compromised. It’s important that the records cover the correct period of time: your lawyer will know how far back to produce records. In addition, if you gather the records on your own, the lawyer for the insurance company will have a field day cross examining you and your doctor on the authenticity and completeness of the records produced. Once you, the injured plaintiff play a role in the evidence gathering exercise, you’re opening up an evidentiary can of worms which should never be opened in a personal injury case. It’s best you leave this sort of work to your personal injury lawyer. This is not to say that you should destroy records that are in your power, possession, or control. This is just to illustrate that gathering records should be left to your personal injury lawyer in the normal course of a personal injury or long term disability case.
What happens if you don’t have a family doctor in your life? This is a serious issue as we know that finding a family doctor can be very difficult, particularly in remote communities. Some communities don’t have doctors. They may have nurse practitioners; which is a perfectly acceptable substitute. But some people can even access a nurse practitioner. When this happens, you should use a walk in clinic, emergency department, or Telehealth Ontario to manage your injury/disability. You can also visit the CPSO website and look for a list of family doctors in your area who are accepting new patients. All of these strategies are easier said than done; and we appreciate that getting in with a family doctor or a nurse practitioner can be a struggle. Some people have to travel hundreds of kilometres just for a regular check up. But getting on a wait list isn’t the end of the world. Your patience and persistence will pay off. Keep in mind that any American would kill for the level of FREE HEALTHCARE which we as Canadian citizens have.
Finally, when it comes to getting help, think of your treatment as a train on the train tracks. If you go to your regular appointments, and don’t miss any of them, and take the prescribed medication; the train will run smoothly. It will be difficult for an insurer, judge or jury to criticize the course of your treatment as you are doing everything in your power to get better. This sort of discipline and dedication shows the world that you are taking your injury/disability seriously, and that you are doing everything in your power to get better. This is a sign that you are attempting to mitigate your damages/losses and not sitting back doing nothing to get better. But once you start missing appointments, or you stop taking your prescribed medication, it’s like the train has fallen off its tracks. Getting a large locomotive engine back on the tracks is difficult. Even the most seriously injured person, who was injured through no fault of their own has to show the Court that they are doing their best to get better; and working very hard at rehabilitating. Some of the very best and most credible Plaintiffs are those who have worked very hard to get well, but can’t on account of the severity of their injuries. Our lawyers can tell you from experience that these Plaintiffs present very well in personal injury and long term disability cases.