Does Your Case Truly Support Your Demand Letter Settlement Request?

Does Your Case Truly Support Your Demand Letter Settlement Request?

Drafting a demand letter is an essential step in the process of resolving legal disputes. It serves as a formal request for settlement and outlines your clients’ grievances, the desired outcome, and the consequences if their demands are not met. However, before sending out a demand letter, it’s crucial to evaluate whether your case genuinely substantiates your settlement request.

The cornerstone of any demand letter are the legal claims you are asserting. These claims form the foundation for your settlement request and must be substantiated by credible evidence. There are two primary reasons why insurance companies often don’t take your demand settlement package seriously:

1. Inadequate documentation of diagnosable impairments:  

Having reviewed hundreds of personal injury cases over the years, I’ve observed countless instances where ALL diagnosable impairments are not documented, inadequately documented, or completely disregarded and left unattended.

For instance, in many cases involving clients with multiple trauma injuries resulting from a motor vehicle collision, injuries are often prioritized based on their life-threatening or most severe pain-inducing nature which may cause overshadowing of less apparent impairments. Orthopedic impairments like broken bones, herniated discs, facet injuries, and ligament tears take precedence, while these less-obvious issues, such as short-term memory deficits, decreased attention span, dizziness, blurred vision, and tinnitus, often go undiagnosed and consequently remain undocumented. These signs are often symptoms of post-concussive and mild traumatic brain injuries and when left undocumented, can cause your client’s case to be severely undervalued.

2. Lack of Quantification of Diagnosed Impairments:

Orthopedic and cognitive impairments that are not quantified in terms of their severity and their impact on your clients’ lives are typically inputted into an insurance company’s system to generate a low-ball valuation based on the insurer’s subjective assessment of the impairments’ worth.

It is crucial to quantify how these impairments affect your clients’ daily lives, including their ability to provide for their family, perform activities of daily living, and engage in leisure activities. The most trial-tested, valid, and objectively reliable method to quantify your clients’ impairments is through a Functional Capacity Evaluation to assess physical abilities or a Cognitive Functional Capacity Evaluation to evaluate cognitive deficits and their effects on executive functioning skills, concentration, and attention span.

Before sending out a demand letter and making a settlement request, it is essential to evaluate whether your case comprehensively and quantitatively supports the impairments upon which you base your demands. By taking these two pivotal steps into account, you can significantly enhance the chances of achieving a successful resolution to your dispute.

Dr. Brad Poppie has over 20 years of personal injury experience providing care as a treating doctor, coordinating rehabilitative case management, and expert trial testimony services.  If you have a client that you would like to discuss their need for an expert report, please contact me directly at 720-982-2000 or email me at: brad@injuryreportingconsultants.com.

 
 
Your Case Is Too Important To Entrust With Amateurs

Your Case Is Too Important To Entrust With Amateurs

Suffering from a personal injury can be a life-altering event causing physical pain, emotional distress, and financial burden to your client. For such cases, seeking appropriate experts becomes crucial to ensuring you have the ammunition needed to properly represent your case.

Your experts not only educate the insurance company of the client’s diagnosis, functional impairments, and future care needs, but they also paint a picture of how these impairments affect the client’s life. Therefore, deciding which medical-legal expert to entrust your personal injury case with, is not to be taken lightly.

The Complexities of Personal Injury Cases:

While there are many expert medical professionals out there, not all possess the expertise and experience necessary to navigate the complexities of personal injury cases.

Personal injury cases encompass a wide range of incidents including car accidents, slip-and-fall, medical malpractice, and workplace injuries. Each case is unique, involving intricate legal and medical aspects that require careful analysis and attention. Amateur “experts”, or Life Care Planners who specialize in Senior Care rather than Personal Injury, lack the knowledge to fully understand the nuances of case management, establishing causation, quantification of impairments, and determining future care needs. Their inexperience risks critical errors that often jeopardize the chances of receiving fair compensation for your client.

Navigating What Expert to Hire:

Navigating the sea of possible medical-legal experts can be a daunting task. After all, you are entrusting this expert to make potential life-altering opinions regarding your client’s impairments and future care. Therefore, it is imperative to choose wisely.

An amateur expert might struggle to meet deadlines, miss important documents, or mishandle future care considerations for your client due to their lack of experience or understanding of the full extent of your client’s impairment.

In contrast, a seasoned and professional medical-legal expert with years of experience has a deep understanding of the legal landscape, ensuring that every step is executed efficiently and effectively.

Doctor life care planners work within their respective scope of practice allowing them to perform specialized examinations on the client as well as fully analyze the client’s medical records. This supports the doctor life care planner’s authority to opine not only their current care, future care, and future costs, but also how those three elements coexist with the client’s impairments and disabilities and affect the client’s life. A doctor life care planner can also help streamline the damages report process and improve the likelihood of a settlement being procured in mediation as opposed to trial.

Trial Experience:

While many personal injury cases are settled out of court, some do proceed to trial. In such instances, having an experienced medical-legal expert by your side, with a track record for winning on the stand can make a world of difference. Amateur experts struggle to present a compelling opinion and lack the courtroom presence and advocacy skills needed to properly educate and sway a judge or jury. On the contrary, skilled medical-legal experts are well-versed in courtroom dynamics, and their expertise can help tip the scales in your clients’ favor.

When choosing a doctor life care planner, consider one that has decades of experience treating the types of patients and impairments that your client is suffering from to support their credibility on the stand. After all, it’s not the question of if the authored Life Care Plan can hold up in court, but rather the question of if the one who authored the plan can hold up in court.

Conclusion:

When faced with a personal injury, the decision to seek the appropriate medical-legal expert should be backed by careful research and consideration. While amateurs might offer lower fees, the potential risks and consequences of entrusting your case to them far outweigh any initial savings. Personal injury cases demand a level of expertise, experience, and dedication that only seasoned professionals can provide. By partnering with an established medical-legal expert, you can rest assured that your case is in capable hands, increasing your chances of receiving the compensation your client rightfully deserves.

Dr. Brad Poppie has over 20 years of personal injury experience providing care as a treating doctor, coordinating rehabilitative case management, and expert trial testimony services. If you have a client that you would like to discuss their need for an expert report, please contact me directly at 720-982-2000 or email me at: brad@injuryreportingconsultants.com.

 
 
Cognitive Functional Capacity Evaluations’ role in TBI

Cognitive Functional Capacity Evaluations’ role in TBI

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) or Post-Concussive Syndrome is unfortunately a very underdiagnosed cognitive pathological condition in personal injury. Oftentimes diagnostic imaging, neuropsychological testing, and/or cognitive therapy are relied upon heavily for diagnostic and treatment purposes. While these studies and experts can certainly help diagnose the injured persons’ condition, there is typically one very important clinical presentation that is not discovered with all of this testing. That is, how the brain injured individual is functioning in real environments, promoting the ecological validity of an evaluation.

The ecological validity differentiates how generalized experimental findings are relatable to the real world such as situations or settings that are typical of everyday life. Think of ecological validity as a subtype of external validity. This is where the Cognitive Functional Capacity Evaluation (CogFCE) comes into play.

The CogFCE evaluates an individual’s functional and cognitive capacity in relation to their ability to perform essential critical job demands with a focus on the intersection of physical, psychological, cognitive, and behavioral implications of an injury or medical condition.

The CogFCE includes the formal / standard functional testing such as range of motion, strength, mobility, limb coordination, postural tolerances; etc in addition to a standardized assessment of cognitive function. These assessments are both component and performance based tests, non-standardized assessment, with structured observations of physical, cognitive, behavioral, and psychosocial functioning.

The evaluator has the unique opportunity to evaluate executive functioning skills both practically and formally by using the clinical environment and environmental demands as an additional tool to measure the evaluee’s performance.

This form of environmental evaluation is a very useful and relevant quantifiable assessment for determining one’s functional capacity for employment and/or how the evaluee’s cognitive deficits affect their ability to perform activities of daily living or leisure activities. This approach highlights ecologically valid measures of work-specific tolerance, particularly in the areas of attention, activity tolerance / mental stamina, and executive functioning.

Make sure your cognitively injured client’s impairments are properly documented to effectively show how the injury affects their livelihood.

Dr. Brad Poppie has over 20 years of personal injury experience providing care as a treating doctor, coordinating rehabilitative case management, and expert trial testimony services. If you have a client that you would like to discuss their need for an expert report, please contact me directly at 720-982-2000 or email me at: brad@injuryreportingconsultants.com

Cutting corners can cost your client MILLIONS in the long run

Cutting corners can cost your client MILLIONS in the long run

We have all heard the old saying, “you get what you pay for” right? Well, this phrase holds true in most business scenarios, but most importantly, with personal injury cases. Expert reports can be a “case-closing grand slam” when done correctly, but it’s easy for those to fall short if done improperly or by the wrong expert. 

Many attorneys spring for a “budget” report, hoping to save a few dollars, but when attorneys don’t pay for the appropriate expert to author a thorough report for their client’s case, money is left on the table and they end up doing their client a huge disservice.

One of my favorite stories helps to illustrate this concept beautifully…  

A giant ship engine failed. The ship’s owners tried one expert after another, but none of them could figure out how to fix the machine.

Then they brought in an old man who had been fixing ships since he was young. He carried a large bag of tools with him, and when he arrived, he immediately went to work. He inspected the engine very carefully, top to bottom.

Two of the ship’s owners were there, watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away. The engine was fixed!

A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for $10,000.00.

“What?!” the owners exclaimed. “He hardly did anything!”

So they wrote the old man a note saying, “Please send us an itemized bill.”

The man sent a bill that read:

Tapping with a hammer…………………. $ 2.00

Knowing where to tap……………………. $ 9,998.00

The moral of the story:
Effort is important, but knowing where to make an effort makes all the difference!

The meaning of this story has proven true time and time again as I review “so-called pocket medical cost projections” that are performed by non-certified life care planners.  There is a reason why there are certifications in life care planning and when you invest in a certified life care planner to methodologically determine the correct future care and associated costs, you receive a quality report that will hold up in trail and help your client get the money needed for any future care that they require from their collision.

I had a recent personal experience reviewing a “pocket medical cost projection” on a catastrophic injury case. The representing attorney thought they could save a few dollars and ended up using a “run-of-the-mill” company to produce a cost projection at a very low cost. After all, the cost projection only needed to include what the treating pain management physician was recommending, right? Wrong!

As the story goes on, the cost projection determined the cost of what the physician was recommending, and that was all. Unfortunately the injured person was catastrophically injured and literally required millions of dollars more in future projected evaluations, projected therapeutic modalities, future routine medical care, durable medical equipment, supplies, aids for independent function, home care, transportation, and home modifications that were directly related to the impairments and subsequent disabilities they suffered from due to their collision. The moral of this story is that the person they hired to do the “pocket cost projection” was not a certified life care planner and therefore not credible to opine on the added future care needs. 

Therefore, due to the attorney trying to save a few dollars with the pocket medical cost projection that they used, it essentially cost the client millions of dollars in the long run because they were not able to present the full scope of care that the client needed to the insurance company.   

Dr. Poppie had served the legal industry as a treating clinician, damages expert, and educator for over 20 years. He specializes in the evaluation and treatment of multi-trauma injuries related to motor vehicle collisions, standard of care and malpractice claims, and as a damages expert to help educate insurance companies and both plaintiff and defense counsel to provide a viable pathway for obtaining a fair settlement based on ethics, research, and evidence-based standards of care. 

As a certified doctor Life Care Planner, Dr. Poppie helps to guide attorneys through all phases of their case and documents impairments with accurate associated costs that are reliable in educating opposing sides as to the true extent of injury. Evidence-based practice guidelines are utilized in all reports in order to ensure the needed criteria is met to withstand scrutiny within all legal jurisdictions. 

Dr. Poppie founded Injury Reporting Consultants to help attorneys and insurance companies resolve personal injury cases through medical analysis and reporting. Injury Reporting Consultants is a collaborative team of dedicated medical professionals using their knowledge to ensure fair outcomes for all parties in personal injury cases.

Recognized specialties include Motor Vehicle Collision, Life Care Planning, Medical Cost Projection, Functional Capacity Evaluation, Onsite Job Analysis, Functional Impairment and Disability, Workplace Injuries, Orthopedic Physical Therapy, Standards of Care, Current Best Practices, Physical Therapy Malpractice, Negligence, File and Medical Record Review, Improper Documentation, Expert Rebuttal Reports, and Expert Testimony.

Dr. Brad Poppie has over 20 years of personal injury experience not only as a treating doctor but as an expert witness in trial.  If you have a client that you would like to discuss their need for an expert report, please contact me directly at 720-982-2000 or email me at: dr.bradleypoppie@physicalrehabspecialists.com

Visit IRC on Youtube for educational videos on this process! 

Who is the “worst nightmare” of every insurance company?

Who is the “worst nightmare” of every insurance company?

As personal injury cases continue to become more complicated, insurance companies will continue to have the leverage and “hold the cards” in terms of the nature of the settlement and its amount. Attorneys today don’t exude the same “fear factor” power to get the insurance companies’ attention that they once did. Cases are taking longer to settle and sometimes for subpar amounts.   

Who is the “worst nightmare” of every insurance company?

The main reason this is happening is that insurance companies today aren’t taking attorneys seriously simply because they don’t have to. The insurance companies have deep pockets and will do everything in their power to avoid paying on claims. Oftentimes they are able to take advantage of the standard demand package or trial documents presented that do not portray the client’s true impairments, disabilities, and how these two affect the client’s livelihood. 

So, who is the insurance companies’ worst nightmare? Someone like me, a doctor that has the personal injury know-how and certifications to back it up. I have decades of experience educating insurance companies about client impairments and disabilities and explaining demand letters and trial documents from a doctor’s perspective. 

At Injury Reporting Consultants, we specialize in providing expert reports such as functional capacity evaluations, vocational and earning capacity evaluations, medical cost projections, and life care plans that will support your legal documents in order to help obtain a swift and fair settlement.      

Dr. Brad Poppie has over 20 years of personal injury experience not only as a treating doctor but as an expert witness in trial.  If you have a client that you would like to discuss their need for an expert report, please contact me directly at 720-982-2000 or email me at: dr.bradleypoppie@physicalrehabspecialists.com

Visit IRC on Youtube for educational videos on this process! 

The Role of the Rehabilitation Doctor in a Personal Injury Case

The Role of the Rehabilitation Doctor in a Personal Injury Case

From a healthcare standpoint, personal injury cases can involve a wide array of professional disciplines ranging from medical, chiropractic, physical therapy, speech therapy, and psychology to name a few.

The Role of the Rehabilitation Doctor in a Personal Injury Case

These different healthcare specialties not only treat the patient to help them return to their prior level of function, but each discipline can offer specific insight into the patient’s progress and future prognosis.

Many times, however, an expectation is put upon the treating medical doctor to give an opinion about the overall prognosis of a patient. While medical doctors can say whether they think a person has achieved “Maximum Medical Improvement”, they typically have to consult with the patient’s rehabilitation doctors to determine the patient’s actual rehabilitative potential. The difference here is that medical doctors diagnose and treat pathology and rehabilitation doctors such as physical therapists, evaluate and treat dysfunction.

The reason why this collaborative opinion with the rehabilitation doctor is so important is because of their unique training. For example, if you ask a physical therapist to prescribe certain medications or read an MRI report, they are not able to do this because it is out of the scope of their practice and they are not trained to do so; not to mention they are not licensed in this field. On the other hand, if you asked a medical doctor to perform a physical therapy rehabilitative treatment regimen they would not be able to successfully treat this patient because they simply aren’t trained in doing so. Each respective discipline, both medical and rehabilitative, have their own unique set of skills and training which gives them credibility to opine on different aspects of the patients’ overall prognosis.  

Oftentimes in trial, the question “what is the patients’ rehabilitative potential” comes up and whether or not they have reached their “Maximum Rehabilitative Potential” and/or achieved “Maximum Medical Improvement”. If the appropriate experts are not in line to give an expert opinion on this topic, it will be difficult to prove to a jury if “Maximum Medical Improvement” or “Maximal Rehabilitative Potential” have been achieved.

As a Doctor of Physical Therapy, I have testified in trial numerous times against medical doctors ranging from orthopedic surgeons, physiatrists, and interventional pain physicians. Quite often the opposing experts have differing opinions than mine regarding the improvement of the patient. It’s not necessarily that their opinion is wrong, but more often that it comes down to their opinion being based off of the patient’s pathological condition and whether or not that diagnosable condition has been cured or if there is an impairment that still exists. From the rehabilitation doctor’s perspective, we are looking at the overall rehabilitation potential of the patient and whether their function will improve or regress over time; thus providing a rehabilitative prognosis.

Medically, the patient may have reached “Maximum Medical Improvement” from a disease or pathology standpoint, but the doctor of physical therapies’ standpoint considers whether the patient has reached “Maximum Rehabilitative Potential”.  The physical therapist has the education, experience, and expertise to opine on this question with certainty and should be integrated into determining the overall prognosis of the patient. 

Make sure you provide the insurance company and/or jury members both the medical doctors’ AND rehabilitative doctors’ opinions in order for an accurate and well-rounded prognosis to be made.  

Dr. Brad Poppie has over 20 years of personal injury experience providing care as a treating doctor, coordinating rehabilitative case management, and expert trial testimony services.  If you have a client that you would like to discuss their need for an expert report, please contact me directly at 720-982-2000 or email me at: brad@injuryreportingconsultants.com