Bad defense medical experts are predictable. The junk defenses they rely on to challenge a psychiatric claim are not particularly creative and can be dealt with easily if you know how to spot them. In Exposing Deceptive Defense Doctors, author Dorothy Clay Sims gives you proven advice, tips and strategies for dealing with the most common of these bogus defenses. For example:
Junk Defense: “There is nothing psychiatrically wrong with your client”
Response: Look to see what the doctor didn’t do.
Typically, the DME determines there is nothing psychiatrically wrong with your client by not testing for a particular conclusion; not asking questions about the symptoms; ignoring all other data to the contrary; and, finally, failing to conduct a complete examination and address all issues in his report. For example, your client may be diagnosed with depression, but the DME tests only for anxiety. Is it any wonder the doctor finds no evidence of depression when he doesn’t even test for it? Ask the DME pointed questions about what he did and did not do in examining your client
Junk Defense: “Something is wrong with your client, but it was not caused by the accident”
Response: Rely on your client’s own words.
If the treating doctor’s notes indicate treatment for depression due to pain, count the number of words in the doctor’s notes dealing with pain and compare that to the number of words dealing with, for example, the death of the patient’s pet rabbit, Fluffy. That simple exercise can result in the following question: “Doctor, I counted the words used by my client to describe his problems at each visit to his treating doctor. He talked about pain on 18 visits, using 352 words, as documented by his doctor. He talked about Fluffy’s death on one visit documented by the doctor, using only 5 words. The focus of the treating doctor and the patient appeared to be more on pain than on Fluffy, right?”
Junk Defense: “The injury was too mild to cause plaintiff’s condition”
Response: Challenge authority underlying the opinion with specific questions.
This is “the doctor who knows everything” defense. Some defense doctors are so arrogant they expand their expertise into areas in which they have no business giving an opinion. Consider, for example, a traumatic brain injury. The defense doctor has no formal training or education in accident reconstruction or G-force or anatomy of injury. That doesn’t stop him. He may say: “One reason I believe there to be no permanent traumatic brain injury is that this was such a mild accident; the force was not sufficient to have caused brain injury.” Your response to this might be:
Q: Are you an accident reconstruction specialist?
Q: Do you have any licenses or formal training in that field?
Q: What was the G force?
Junk Defense: “Your client’s test results don’t fit the expected pattern.”
Response: There is no “expected pattern.”
The DME will say, “Your client’s test results don’t fit the pattern one would expect with this type of injury.” Hearing this, your first question should be: “What pattern would you expect?” Guess what? They never answer that question; instead, you will get a vague response like, “Well, it’s a case-specific type of thing.” Fine. Ask, “In this type of case, what results would show an injury?” The DME will not answer this question because he knows that if he identifies scores that mean brain damage, you could use that against him in a future case. Now you hit the doctor with the big question: “So, you don’t know what the test results should look like, but this isn’t it?”
Junk Defense: “Your client’s test scores are so bad, they can’t be real.”
Response: Show me evidence to support this so-called defense.
Relying on this junk defense, the DME will make an apples-to-oranges comparison: “The tests scores are so bad, they can’t be legitimate; if your client was that disabled, there would be no way she could even drive to my appointment.” This defense, or some formulation of it, usually concludes that your client must be malingering, because if, in fact, her scores were that low, she could not or would not be able to perform simple tasks like driving or eating or getting out of bed. The doctor will rely on his “years of experience” or “common sense” in making this diagnosis. Ask for an article that supports his claim. He won’t be able to produce one.
Dorothy Clay Sims is a lawyer in Ocala, Florida. She practiced workers’ compensation law and also practiced Social Security disability law for over 25 years. After seeing multiple abuses visited upon her clients by sketchy defense experts, she spent over a decade studying psychological tests, physical exams, anatomy and electrodiagnostic studies. She has invested several thousand hours of time in learning how some defense-oriented medical experts manipulate the data. Ms. Sims has given over 200 lectures throughout the U.S. and in various other countries on medical/legal issues. Lawyers from all across the United States have requested Ms. Sims’ help in understanding how particular defense doctors may have misrepresented facts in their cases, and have retained her to cross-examine defense doctors.