In medical negligence claims… what is a medico-legal liability report?
A medico-legal liability report (also referred to as an ‘Expert Liability Report’) is a report prepared by a medical specialist for use as evidence in legal proceedings, which sets out the medical specialist’s opinion as to certain aspects of the claimant’s claim. A typical medico-legal liability report will address two general questions:
Was the doctor negligent?; and
Did that negligence cause the claimant any loss or damage?
In theory, you can commence proceedings alleging medical negligence, and proceed to hearing, without reliance upon a medico-legal liability report.
However, the chances of you winning the hearing are negligible.
In practice, if you want your lawyers to run an argument that you received negligent treatment from your doctors, nurses or other healthcare professionals, then to convince a judge of same, will require evidence from similarly trained professionals who are prepared to state in black and white that the treatment was below the standard to be expected and that you suffered loss or damage as a result.
You can bet your bottom dollar that the doctor’s insurer will source such an opinion and have it set out in a medico-legal report… and…
if you don’t have a report to counter it, your claim will be doomed to fail.
Why should you have your lawyer request a medico-legal liability report?
When your lawyer requests a medico-legal liability report in anticipation of legal proceedings, while giving you advice, the report is subject to professional legal privilege, which means it can only be released to third parties with your permission. Accordingly, if the report expresses an opinion that you do not wish to disclose publicly, then so long as the content of the report is not disclosed beyond you and your lawyer, you cannot be forced to disclose its contents… not even pursuant to a subpoena.
How long will it take to get a medico-legal liability report?
The time it takes to obtain a medico-legal liability report depends upon your circumstances. If the report you require is to provide an opinion as to the standard of treatment received by you, it may take a number of months to:
uplift all relevant clinical notes from hospitals and doctors; and
prepare comprehensive statements from you and any other persons who may have been present during critical conversations between you and relevant medical personnel; and
prepare a letter of instruction to the medico-legal expert.
The medico-legal expert generally will produce the report within about one month of being briefed with all relevant information.
Who usually requests the medico-legal liability report?
How much will a medico-legal liability report cost me?
It depends on the complexity of your circumstances. In a recent very complex case, our client paid just under $7,000.