Can my doctor refuse to go to court in my personal injury claim?

Wade Coye

Wade Coye, Accident & Injury Attorney

A medical professional does have the right to refuse to testify in court regarding a patient’s medical records. However, the patient has the right to subpoena the medical professional to appear. While this is an option, it is not always the best solution. A doctor who feels that they’ve been “forced” or “pressured” into appearing in court by a subpoena may be uncooperative and not an ideal witness. Recently, we were faced with a situation where one of our clients had actually been presented with a document to sign that released the treating doctor from providing testimony in a court case under any circumstances. Certainly, this doctor may have outstanding credentials and may provide excellent care to patients, but there can be grave consequences to a personal injury case if an injured person receives medical care from a doctor with this mentality.

It can hurt your claim if your doctor won’t testify in court on the specifics of your injuries. The opinions about the care a client who is suffering from a personal injury needs during their case, opinions about that person’s future care, and specifics of the costs and expenses associated with that care are all details that typically are decided by the treating doctor.  You can imagine the problems that can arise if you have been treated for several years while paying the medical bills or your health insurance costs and expecting to need care in the future, and then the doctor who has been managing your care during that time refuses to participate in the legal process.

If there is a need for immediate care but not emergency room care and the only available resource to pay the expense of the medical care is a person’s personal injury protection or no fault insurance benefits, then an Urgent Care Clinic is a solid option from both a medical and legal standpoint. Typically, urgent care clinics cost less than a hospital emergency room, a person can be treated very quickly and efficiently, and it can save an injured person money in both the short and long-run. In this case, most Urgent Care Clinics will not ask patients to waive the doctors’ professional testimony, and if they do, it may be worthwhile to subpoena the medical professional based on the fact that the patient had limited choices and sought care so that they did not have to suffer further with their injury.

 

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