It is unlikely to come as a surprise to hear that, in order to make a claim for personal injury, it is necessary to prove that one has suffered an injury. However, a common question among my clients is “I’ve already seen my GP, why do I now need to see a medico-legal expert?”
Sometimes, the expert you will be sent to see will be a different speciality to your GP (e.g. An Orthopaedic Consultant, or a Clinical Psychologist) because we need a more specialised opinion in respect of your injury. Other times, you may be sent to see a Medico-Legal GP because we consider that a GP is able to diagnose your injuries. Essentially, your own GP and the medico-legal GP will have similar, or even identical, qualifications in terms of medicine.
So why do I need to see the medico-legal GP?!
There is a very important distinction between the two. Whilst the qualifications are very similar, your GP has a duty to you; to treat you and to help you to manage your symptoms and recover from your injuries.
Your medico-legal expert however, has a duty to the court to examine you and produce a report which outlines the symptoms you are suffering from (or were suffering from), to provide a diagnosis of your injuries, and an opinion in respect of the length of time your injuries will take to recover, and any treatment which might assist in that recovery. Crucially, the medico-legal expert will also confirm whether your symptoms have been caused by the accident in question. This report will be used as proof of the injuries you sustained, and will enable your claim to be valued.
Therefore, even if you have sought medical attention, it will still be necessary to obtain medico-legal evidence to demonstrate the injuries you have sustained.
It is important to remember that, whilst the medico-legal expert may be able to offer you some advice, the first port of call if you are suffering from pain, or any other symptoms, is your own GP, or other healthcare provider. You have a duty to ‘mitigate your loss’ (i.e. To recover as quickly as possible) from the perspective of your claim, but more importantly, no one wants to suffer any longer than they need to!