Q: Why do we insist on Board certification as a prerequisite for medical expert review?
A. We recognize that not all medical experts are Board-certified in their specialty and that many fine medical practitioners have never obtained Board certification. However, we also recognize that Board certification is an important professional imprimatur that is widely recognized as conferring authority and legitimacy when involving medical record review and testimony. Accordingly, to afford maximum credibility to our clients’ cases, we require that all physicians who join our panel of medical experts be Board-certified in their respective specialties.
Q: Will I have a problem with variations in standards of medical care if I use an out-of-state medical expert?
A: No. There is a sufficient amount of case law that supports the contention that standards of medical care in the United States are homogenous. As a matter of practice, Medical Opinions Associates has provided such medical experts for many years without differences in standards of care becoming an issue. In fact, it is often preferable to have an expert from out-of-state because there is a much greater likelihood that the medical expert and defendant physician do not know each other or know of each other. This means less reluctance to testify should the case proceed to trial.
Q: Does Medical Opinions Associates work with plaintiff and defense attorneys, as well as insurers?
A: Yes. Medical Opinions Associates will also work with pro se individuals so long as they have an attorney ready to handle the case should a favorable opinion result. This recognizes the fact that many attorneys are hesitant to take on “gray” cases and may require clients to first obtain a supportive opinion before agreeing to handle the case.
Q: Will the medical expert be willing to testify should the care proceed to trial?
A: Yes. Medical Opinions Associates’ medical experts review cases with the understanding that they are expected to support meritorious cases for the duration of litigation. Assuming that agreement is reached on administrative matters, this includes post-opinion letter consultation, deposition, pre-trial preparation, and trial testimony.
Q: How do I know that my medical expert is qualified to review my case?
A: Our medical experts are all Board-certified in their respective specialties. They are in active clinical practice and often have academic appointments in medical schools. We seek medical experts who devote only a small portion of their time to expert witness pursuits. Medical Opinion Associates screens all medical expert applicants carefully and looks for both clinical competence and communication skills.
Q: Why use Medical Opinions Associates to engage a medical expert?
A: We can arrange the services of a medical expert in the appropriate medical specialty or specialties, and we can often find one in your geographic proximity. We carefully screen our medical experts so you do not have to worry about whether the medical expert is truly qualified in his or her specialty. Moreover, you are assured that the Medical Opinions Associates medical expert will continue to support your case from opinion letter through trial testimony, if necessary.
Q: How do you structure your fees?
A: We have a competitive flat fee for review and evaluation of medical records and preparation of the opinion letter. Attorneys have told us that they prefer having cost certainty. The fee is variable and depends on the medical specialty in question, the volume of records, and the complexity of the case. Once the merit of the case has been validated and the opinion letter has been produced, we charge hourly fees for consultations, depositions, and trial testimony. The discovery fees are billed against a retainer account established for that purpose.
Q: Do you also have contingency fees?
A: No. We do not even want the appearance of the medical expert having a financial stake in the outcome of the case. Opposing counsel is certain to attempt to discredit your case by exploring the expert's financial arrangements during trial. With our strict fee-for-service approach, opposing counsel cannot imply that the expert has "hired out" for a piece of the settlement.
Q: Can I pre-review the medical expert's Curriculum Vitae before committing to the review process?
A: Yes. You just need to include the request in your cover letter when you send the medical records and we will hold the file until we receive your approval.
Q: What records do I need to send?
A: In general, all the medical records that are germane to your case. The medical expert's opinion will be based on the material you provide, so sending all relevant records is advisable. The complete medical file must be sent at once, and not piecemeal. This ensures the lowest possible cost to you and the most efficient use of the medical expert's time.