Medical Imaging in Personal Injury Cases

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A picture is worth a thousand words

If you’ve ever watched a good legal drama, you know that any legitimate claim is supported by good evidence. And when it comes to personal injury claims, medical evidence is the most important kind. The records taken of treatment can prove how serious or debilitating the injuries have been for the person who suffered them. They can also help insurance companies and defense attorneys prove that an injury was minor, or that a patient has failed to follow their doctor’s recommendations for treatment.

Medical imaging is powerful evidence

Medical imaging can be some of the most powerful evidence a trial lawyer has. They can be used to prove to opposing lawyers, insurers and defendants whether the injured person’s claims are valid. At trial, they can be used to persuade an entire courtroom by showing judges and jurors the severity or mildness of an injury. They can make the pain someone suffers a tangible reality.

It’s so powerful that it can make or break a case

While witness testimony can be convincing, images paint a stark picture of what actually happened to the plaintiff. They evoke an immediate, visceral reaction, going beyond mere words to illustrate the true nature of the injured party’s condition. Paired with expert medical testimony, medical imaging can make or break a case.

The most common types of medical imaging ordered by physicians

  • X-rays, which can show broken or fractured bones, spinal degeneration or foreign objects that have been left inside a patient during surgery
  • CT scans, which capture multiple snapshot images to create a single 2D or 3D image that shows internal structures within the body. CT scans can detect bone abnormalities that x-rays may not be able to capture. Tumors, internal bleeding, injuries to internal organs and brain swelling can also be detected.
  • MRI scans, which are used to detect brain and spinal injuries (neuroimaging), cardiovascular issues, joint disease and the staging of cancerous tumors.

Attorneys must be able to produce high quality printed versions

Now that medical images can be captured and shared electronically, attorneys that want to use these images in litigation must be able to produce high quality printed versions as exhibits at deposition and in briefs. They may also have to electronically display and manipulate the images for the jury.

However, a trial lawyer must be able to understand the technique used to obtain the image and what it is actually depicting before they can use these images, many of which include subtle findings that the untrained eye may not be able to recognize without assistance. Attorneys should always discuss an image with their client’s physician before relying on it for litigation.

The words used to describe pain are rarely as effective at showing the magnitude of an injury as an image. While words can be misunderstood, forgotten or dismissed, an image can be recalled in greater detail. For judges and jurors, it can evoke a more compassionate understanding of what a person has endured.

Have you suffered an injury or are you representing a personal injury client? Contact POM MRI to discuss your needs with expert radiologists.