Legal Nurse Consultant & Personal Injury Cases
Although medical malpractice is technically considered personal injury, it is generally kept separate from this category by LNCs. Personal injury cases are defined as those cases where a person sustained injury due to the negligence of another person, a defective product, or unsafe conditions. This category includes slip and falls, and auto accidents. LNCs with clinical experience in emergency, critical care like ICU, neurology, orthopedic, and rehabilitation are valuable assets to a personal injury attorney.
The first thing a legal nurse consultant must do is sift through the medical records of the plaintiff. This can be challenging because there may be volumes of records to look through and some may be difficult to read because the notes were handwritten. Not only does this help them determine if the case has any merit, but it should reveal whether or not the person had a preexisting condition that may been aggravated by or contributed to the circumstance that caused the injury. Reading through the records also helps the LNC determine if the attorney has all of the medical documentation relevant to the case.
If the plaintiff prevails in the case, he or she may be entitled to damages for pain and suffering. It will fall to the legal nurse consultant to define the pain and suffering of the plaintiff for the court so that he or she can get the best financial outcome possible. This is done through a review of the medical records, interviews with the clients and other affected parties, and feedback from relevant experts.
LNCs may be called to court to act as “fact witnesses”. This role involves interpreting the medical issues of the case for the court (judge and jury). If the injured party is required to undergo a medical examination, the legal nurse consultant may attend this exam as a client advocate and to record what transpires during the exam for the attorney. To perform this duty successfully, LNCs need access to medical literature to obtain information about obscure or hard-to-prove injuries like cervical damage and many brain injuries.