As of this past week, I have been on trial in a case involving a seriously injured man who was in a motor vehicle accident. The defendants have given us notice that they intend to bring 2 medical witnesses to contradict the opinions of the medical witnesses for the plaintiff.
Firstly, a treating doctor has a better perspective of the patient’s health than an examining doctor. The treating doctor actually has the benefit of seeing the patient within a period of time close to the accident. He has the benefit of speaking to the patient during different phases of the treatment and can see whether the patient has made progress, if the patient needs to change the type of treatment, or if the patient needs to be receiving treatment more frequently.
The doctors for the defendants are basically hired to perform an examination of the plaintiff only on one occasion, usually years after an accident or years before a jury trial. They can be impeached on the subject of how they are paid, how frequently they are in court giving testimony on behalf of defendants, and their lack of a clinical practice (i.e., seeing patients in an office).
Juries are fair when it comes to evaluating any doctor, regardless of whether they are actually treating physicians (versus examining physicians). However, a good trial attorney will use all of the tools of cross examination to show that they are merely “hired guns” for insurance companies.