The only way to keep control of the doctorstipsonline on cross examination is to ask questions with one fact that calls for a yes or no answer. You are giving a speech in the form of questions. The facts in your questions should stand on their own and not depend on any information the witness has in their head. When deposing the defense doctor, there are plenty of facts to pull from. Here are some sources to pull facts to put in to your leading questions. The defense doctors report, plaintiff’s medical records, the doctor’s deposition in your case, depositions the doctor has given in other cases, journal articles written by the defense doctor.
2. Summarize the important admissions with leading questions.
Many times a defense doctor will admit a few things in deposition that help your client’s case. We should all confirm those facts with leading questions on cross examination. For example in most cases defense doctors will admit that a traumatic event can result in an injury that is appropriate to treat with physician supervised physical therapy or chiropractic care within six weeks of the injury. Confirm the amount of the bills he or she agrees the collision was a substantial factor in causing.
At deposition get the defense doctor to admit that your client experienced pain following the injury and that patients of theirs have complained of pain for varying periods after an event like the one your client went through. Most defense doctors will admit that a certain segment of the population is predisposed to injury and that prior injury can make people more susceptible to greater harm from a later injury. Here are some questions to try at the defense doctor’s deposition. These are not cross examination questions for trial.
Q. Would you agree that some people are more fragile than others?
Q. Would you agree that fragile people are often predisposed to greater injury or pain from an injury-producing event?
Q. Do people experience pain differently?
Q. Some people have a greater threshold for pain than others?
Q. Is there a precise way to measure pain?
Doctors understand that a person’s body can be “healed” but they can still have pain. A defense doctor may be using the work “healed” to mean that, architecturally, the body has reached maximum medical improvement. Some defense doctors will admit that symptoms, such as pain, last long after the body has “healed.” Focus on symptoms rather than injuries or healing.
3. If the defense doctor’s file is incomplete…
Often defense doctor’s files will be incomplete. They may not have all of the prior medical records and most commonly defense doctors will not look at the radiology images themselves. Typically their review will rely on the written report of the radiologist who interpreted the images. This is a good opportunity to point out where the defense doctor got his information. Walk through with the defense doctor how he got the records of plaintiff. Ask, “All the records you got were provided by the defense attorney, correct doctor? Confirm the defense attorney did not provide the images of plaintiff’s spine from her X-ray, MRI or CT scans. Most doctors will admit that it is their general practice to review MRI images themselves before making a decision on whether or not to perform surgery.
Remember this issue applies with equal vigor to the plaintiff’s treating doctors and testifying healthcare providers. Beware, treating doctors who are not made aware of important medical records, or information about prior trauma are just as susceptible to this type of cross examination.
4. Some symptoms improved: You believed my client when she said her headaches went away?
Keep an eye out for symptoms or pain the plaintiff has that get better. For example it is common for injured people to have multiple locations of pain early on, some of which resolve, only to be left with one or two chronic conditions that are significantly affecting their lives. If this is the case, you can employ the following cross examination.