Expert witnesses for insurance companies under judicial fire

When a person in Ontario is injured in a motor vehicle accident, he or she may experience a great deal of pain. In addition to the physical suffering, that person may also have to face the agony of a personal injury trial if his or her insurance company refuses to pay for medical bills, rehabilitation or lost income. During those trials, the victim may be subjected to testimony from expert witnesses whose job is to convince the court that the pain and suffering is not real.

In a recent courtroom trend, judges seem to be losing patience with doctors hired as expert witnesses for insurance companies. Numerous judges have rejected the testimony of such witnesses as biased and unfair. In fact, after one doctor convinced a jury that a car accident victim was faking her injuries, the judge accused the doctor of inventing evidence to satisfy the insurance company. The unprecedented scolding had such a profound effect that other judges subsequently refused to allow that doctor to testify because he was not deemed a credible witness.

More often, judges are rejecting the witnesses who represent the interests of insurance companies because the judges believe the testimony is not based on medical evidence but on what the insurance company wants them to say. If expert witnesses impress a jury with their supposed medical findings, a victim may be denied money needed for continued medical treatment. The doctors protest, saying they are not partial to the insurance company, even if the company is paying as much as $77,000 a month for their opinion.

Those in Ontario who are injured in accidents may dread the thought of having to fight for the insurance they need to recover. It seems like one more indignity after a long nightmare. However, with a determined lawyer on their side, they are reassured that their interests will be defended and the best possible outcome will be achieved.

Source: nationalpost.com, "Hired gun in a lab coat: How medical experts help car insurers fight accident claims", Tom Blackwell, Jan. 5, 2017

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