The need for unequivocal medical evidence in Personal Injury law and workers’ compensation. Equivocal means ambiguous, inexact, hazy, imprecise, non-committal, uncertain. Thus unequivocal means the opposite or clear, specific, indisputable. In injury law, workers’ compensation, personal injury, and to some degree social security disability one must have unequivocal medical evidence supporting their claim to have a chance of winning money or benefits.
In workers’ compensation law there must be evidence of a relationship between the work injury and the condition causing the disability. In other words there has to be evidence of causation. A medical opinion will satisfy the standard of unequivocal medical testimony if the expert testifies that in the expert’s professional opinion there is a relationship. However even if the medical evidence is unequivocal it must still be accepted as credible by the Workers’ compensation Judge. Remember the insurance company does have lawyers and doctors they use routinely to deny or fight your claim.
Medical testimony that assigns cause “could have” been the cause of the condition is not legally sufficient. If your doctor feels (and worse testifies) they could be related that’s a problem for you and your case.
Many times employees that suffer work injuries come to us for representation and are surprised that they are even being denied money or benefits when to them they feel it’s obvious that their disability is related to their work injury. Unfortunately that’s not usually sufficient to have a chance of prevailing before a Workers’ Compensation Judge. Alternatively we hear frequently how their doctor is willing to support them or are behind them 100% only for us to find out later that the doctor’s opinion is “could have” or “maybe” the condition or disability is related to the injury or work injury.
What may seem to be evident to the injury victim or the injured worker is not generally legally sufficient. For example the injured employee testifies they have never had these type of problems before, and/or they have been working regularly until they suffered their injury. To them and their loved ones they are not the person they were before this injury. They now have pain and restriction on a daily basis. They can’t do the type of the work they did before. Although this information is important for the judge to know you generally still are going to need something in writing and most likely testimony from a medical expert that in fact that is the case. And unfortunately some doctors don’t want to get involved. Or they don’t want to get involved with Workmens Compensation. Or they feel there may be a relationship between the work injury and their current condition, treatment and disability.
Thus the opinion of a medical expert on causation and disability generally is necessary to have a chance of prevailing in your case. Ideally the doctor must be willing to put in writing and testify that in their medical opinion your condition, diagnosis or problem is caused (or substantially caused) by the work injury and as a result you are no longer capable of performing that particular job for the moment and/or your treatment you are undergoing and continue to need is caused or substantially caused by the work injury.
If you have suffered a personal injury, a work injury, or are attempting to obtain Social Security Disability benefits and have questions about your situation and/or the need for unequivocal medical evidence please contact Dugan & Associates Lawyers Representing Injured People, at 888-99-DUGAN.