NSBA – Effective Use of Medical Testimony

The North Suburban Bar Association invited us as experts to talk about the effective use of medical testimony and how to maximize the value of your case by leveraging the opinions of your treating physicians. The presentation wasn’t intended solely for plaintiff’s attorneys, although given our firm’s focus, it was told from the plaintiff’s point of view. Richard Pullano said the session focused on the “many techniques that we have learned over the years that have allowed us to maximize recovery on behalf of our clients.”

The Pullanos leaned into the theme of “self-inflicted wounds,” talking about mistakes they commonly see in the industry that arise when plaintiff’s lawyers do not adequately educate their clients—about the legal system, about their relationship with their doctor and about how to communicate best, including the importance of the plaintiff taking the time to explain to their doctor what they’re experiencing, in terms of pain and physical limitations.

“The doctor’s testimony is the foundation of that claim,” Richard Pullano said. “The only way they can provide potent evidence is if the client gives them a full understanding of how drastically this injury has impacted their life. When the doctor says, ‘How are you going today?’ and you say, ‘much better,’ well, much better than what?” he says. “If the pain goes from a 9 out of 10, to a 7, that’s still not good.”

“From the start of a case all the way through to the trial, it’s about educating your client on how to interact with doctors—first and foremost, staying on top of your office visits, and making sure you’re not missing visits,” Michael Pullano added. “And also, how to talk about the pain you’re experiencing and what aggravates it. We educate our clients on how they can help themselves in their case by getting their doctors the most important information, which in turn arms their doctors with the necessary tools to render informed opinions on their case that will ultimately win the day.”

From there, the presentation moved to how to prepare the treating physicians for their deposition, to get an idea of their opinions regarding the nature and extent of the patient’s injury. This helps the plaintiff’s attorney understand where the physician stands before taking their deposition, and thus be able to best leverage their medical testimony.

“It focuses your mindset in terms of what evidence will be in the deposition,” Michael Pullano said. “If you know from the prep sessions that they’re going to hurt you, you figure out ways to minimize their testimony.”

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