Central New York personal injury lawyers like me have a tough job. We have to convince a skeptical jury that our client’s injuries are real and significant. Most injuries are fairly “invisible”. It doesn’t help that most pain and limitations in movement do not appear on x-rays or other films. Unless the injury is very visible and obvious – like an amputated arm — most jurors start out with the preconceived notion that the plaintiff is either faking or exaggerating her injury to get money in court. (Actually, this is very rarely the case, and is never the case when we at Michaels & Smolak present a plaintiff to a jury).
To present our clients’ injuries to the jury, we of course must elicit testimony from witnesses who have seen, first hand, the real life consequences of the injuries. Such witnesses include not only the plaintiff herself and her immediate family members, employers, and others who have witnesses how the injury has changed her life, but also medical doctors who have performed surgery or treated her. All these witnesses bolster the veracity of the injury.
The insurance companies we are up against, on the other hand, hire their own doctors to examine the plaintiff and to testify regarding the injuries. Naturally, since these hired-gun doctors are not in the business of treating the injured plaintiff, but in supplying testimony paid for by the insurance company, their testimony tends to be biased against the plaintiff. Their “job” is to try to minimize the injury. The examinations they perform on plaintiffs are misnamed an “Independent Medical Examinations” (“IMEs”) and the doctors who performs them are sometimes called “IME” doctors. On the plaintiffs’ side, we prefer to call these examinations “Defense Medical Examinations”, or “DME’S”, since there is really nothing “independent” about them. (Read my prior post about IME’s).
As stated above, most DME doctors minimize somewhat the plaintiff’s injuries for the benefit of their benefactor, the insurance carrier. But one doctor in Central New York is infamous for doing more than that. This particular doctor, Dr. Daniel Carr, an orthopedist, consistently submits reports stating that even significantly and seriously injured plaintiffs are really not injured at all, or else the injury is so minimal as to be irrelevant. Dr. Carr’s reports are – in the opinion of all Central New York injury attorneys I have ever talked to about it – so lopsidedly biased against the plaintiff as to be ridiculous. There is a joke going around legal circles in Central New York that Dr. Carr will only find a “limitation” in the use of a limb (arm, leg, etc.) if has been amputated. And even then he will claim the plaintiff can get by perfectly well without it, since God supplied him with a second one.
Well, a small measure of justice has finally befallen Dr. Carr. In a recent workers’ compensation case, he found that the claimant – who suffered bilateral carpel tunnel – had a 0% disability, despite clear workers’ compensation guidelines indicating that a scheduled loss of use (“SLU”) of 0% for that injury was impossible. Here’s what the judge said in rendering his decision:
Dr. Carr’s medical report on the issue of permanency . . . presents a frivolous opinion on the question of permanency for the established bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome conditions. Dr. Carr has repeatedly submitted permanency reports to the Board assessing claimants with a 0% SLUs for established carpal tunnel conditions. Dr. Carr has repeatedly been advised by the Board that the Board’s 2012 Permanent Impairment establishment Guidelines explicitly provide for a range of SLU findings for the carpal tunnel syndrome condition based upon the establishment of this condition, alone, yet, Dr. Carr persists in submitting permanency reports to the Board assessing claimants with 0% SLU’s despite uncontroverted diagnoses of carpal tunnel syndrome conditions. Rendering this particular case especially egregious is the fact that the claimant underwent causally related carpal tunnel release surgeries as a result of his carpal tunnel syndrome conditions. Thus, I find that the carrier is assessed [a] $400 [fine].”
So the carrier who presented this phony assessment by Dr. Carr was fined $400. Not a big deal, right? Well, it’s a start. Maybe if enough insurance carriers are assessed fines for presenting Dr. Carr’s blatantly biased and unfounded testimony, they will stop hiring him and thus cut off the flow of extreme misinformation flowing from his mouth to the jurors’ ears.
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Syracuse NY Personal Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.