A recent article published by the National Post highlights a grave concern in personal injury litigation of bias among independent medical experts toward the insurance providers who hire them.
The article noted several instances in which medical experts, who are supposed to provide an unbiased opinion on an individual’s health, failed to show impartiality in their assessments and gave insurance companies a reason to deny a claim.
Several recent comments and rulings by judges have brought the issue into the spotlight.
Late last year, a judge wrote in her opinion on a case that the independent medical examiner who testified during trial “fell far short of his obligation to be fair, objective and non-partisan.” Unfortunately, the comments came after the jury had awarded the victim a verdict much lower than the minimum amount for her type of case.
That same doctor has been cited for similar allegations by several other judges in the past 17 years. Several other doctors have also been accused of working as advocates for the insurance company.
A judge in Calgary flat out rejected the testimony of a neuropsychologist who was testifying on behalf of the insurance company, stating that he was clearly biased against the plaintiff.
Many note that the issue lies in the fact that medical experts stand to garner significant income from testifying for insurance companies. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), insurance companies handled about 364,000 auto claims in 2013 for about $2.3 billion.
IBC estimates that Ontario insurers often spend more on a medical expert than in compensation for the injury, an estimated average of $10,700 compared to $9,700 per claim in 2011.
According to the President of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association, this type of behavior is a clear attack on the justice system. Unfortunately, this injustice is causing great tangible harm to innocent victims who are left without much-needed compensation if an expert determines that an injury does not exist.
Experts believe that this problem is likely much larger than it seems, as only approximately five per cent of cases that go to trial result in this type of criticism. Countless other cases settle out of court.
The personal injury lawyers at Greg Monforton & Partners are strong advocates for the rights of the injured and work tirelessly to help make sure our client receive the justice and compensation they deserve. If you believe you have a case, do not hesitate to contact us for a free, no obligation consultation.