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A Story – Discrediting the Testifying Defense Doctor in 15 Minutes

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By John P. Burns, Attorney at Law

There are doctors who testify regularly for insurance companies and defense law firms. This type of doctor tries to help the defense win against accident injury victims. As a  car accident and personal injury attorney, I have had to figure out how to show jurors that the testimony of these doctors is false. Here is what I recently did in a case to bring out the truth about one of these doctors.

The deposition of the defense doctor

As allowed by the court rules, I went to the office of the doctor who was going to testify for the defense. I brought a certified court reporter with me. The court reporter administered the oath to the doctor. Following are some of the questions I asked and the doctor’s responses.

Percentage for defense and for plaintiff
What percentage of the time do you testify for defendants and what percentage for plaintiffs?

Doctor’s answer- 85% for defendants and 15% for plaintiffs.

Record review reports per year?
How many record review reports do you do per year, where you do not see or examine the plaintiff?

Doctor’s answer- Approximately 9 per year

How much do you charge for that work?

Doctor’s answer- $1,000 per report.

Physical exam and reports?
How many times per year do you do an examination and issue a report?

Doctor’s answer- Approximately 14 per month.

So if I multiply 14 exams per month times 11 months per year that would be your yearly average?

Doctor’s answer- Yes.

How much do you charge for that work?

Doctor’s answer- $2,000 per exam and report

Depositions?

How many depositions do you give in a year?

Doctor’s answer- Approximately 10

How long are most depositions?

Doctor’s answer- One hour

How much do you charge for that?

Doctor’s answer-$950 per hour.

Testify in arbitrations?

How many times do you testify in arbitrations each year?

Doctor’s answer-Approximately 10 times per year.

What do you charge for that?

Doctor’s answer- $5,000 for one half day

Testify in trial?

How many times a year do you testify in trial?

Doctor’s answer-6 times per year.

Your charges for that?

Doctor’s answer- $5,000 for one half day

Billed out on this case to date?

How much did you bill for the work you have done on this case total to date?

Doctor’s answer – $5,625.

The trial

At trial, the defense attorney asked questions of the testifying defense doctor. The doctor’s answers implied that my client was lying about the nature and extent of his injuries. It was unfairly biased testimony but it could have destroyed my client’s case.

When I rose for my cross examination of the doctor, I went up to the easel. I asked the doctor about the financial amounts he had testified to in my deposition of him. As he answered about what he had testified to in his deposition, I wrote the results of the following calculations on the board. I asked him if he agreed with the following:

1. $1,000 x 9 = $9,000 per year? – Yes
2. $2,000 x 14 = $28,000 per month x 11 months =$308,000 per year?-Yes
3. $ 950 x 10 = $9,500 per year? – Yes
4. $5,000 x 10 – $50,000 per year – Yes
5. $5,000 x 6 – $30,000 per year – Yes
6. Does the following calculation sound about right to you?
$ 9,000
$308,000
$ 9,500
$ 50,000
$ 30,000
=$397,500 per year? – Yes
X .85 (85% for defendants)
$337,875 is approximately how much you bring in per year from the defense? Doctor’s answer – Yes

$337,875 per year doing work for the defense in addition to you regular salary from your medical practice? – Doctor’s answer – Yes

The jury was stunned. They were all just staring at the defense doctor. The whole trial had suddenly changed. Then I asked the following question about my client’s medical bills.

Medical bills from treating doctors

When the defense attorney asked you questions, you said that my client’s total medical treating doctor’s bills of $26,500 were excessive, correct? Doctor’s answer -Yes.

When I took your deposition you told me that, at that time you had billed out $5,625 to date on this case, correct? Doctor’s answer -Yes

You are being paid $5,000 by the defense for your time here today? Doctor’s answer – Doctor’s answer – Yes

So the total amount you have or will bill on this case is $10,625? Doctor’s answer – Doctor’s answer -Yes

So you are telling this jury that it is all right for you to make $10,625 on this case but the bills from the treating doctors were all excessive? Doctor’s answer- I wouldn’t put it that way.

Verdict

The jury returned a verdict for my client’s full medical bills in the amount of $26,500. They also awarded $173,500 to my client for his pain and suffering. The total verdict was for $200,000.

After the trial the jurors were waiting for me in the hall. They told me that, when they heard how much the defense doctor made working for the defense every year, they did not believe any of his so called medical opinions. They also said that, after my cross examination of the defense doctor, they saw what the defense had tried to do and did not believe anything the defense had presented.

Conclusion

If you are involved in a car accident, consult our experienced car accident attorneys. At the Law Offices of John P. Burns, we effectively handle your car accident claim so you can focus on recovering without having to deal with the insurance companies. It’s free to ask questions, so contact us directly at 949-496-7000 or email us at john@johnburnslaw.com. We’ll be sure to get back to you within 24 hours.

  1. Anthony Castelli
    Anthony Castelli09-21-2013

    This testimony is critical. Showing tendency for bias is the number one thing you can do besides showing area of agreement on the injury from the fefense doctor. Then leave well enough alone.
    I once pulled out 7 depositions where the doctor had testified for the defense law firm . The case settled for the policy limits after the deposition

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