Medico-legal Assessments

Medico-legal Assessments

A medico legal assessment is a detailed assessment that provides an independent specialist opinion on the claimants functioning following an injury or illness that is being adjugated on in a legal trial / case. Medico legal reports can be used in civil and criminal cases, personal injury claims and liability matters.

Various medical professionals with relevant clinical expertise can be requested to provide their specialist / expert opinion in the case by either party in the legal case. All consider the claimants premorbid functioning, current functional status, potential for recovery, future functioning and ongoing treatment needs. In the therapy disciplines, the following is the role of the various disciplines:

  • Occupational therapist’s focus is the person’s work capacities; work readiness and physical and cognitive abilities as well as their ability to manage their usual activities at home. They may assist in providing insight into the need for assistive devices, specialised equipment, home adaptations, care needs and vocational rehabilitation needs.
  • The physiotherapist also addresses the level of participation in daily activities (mostly related to their physical, sensory and mobility aspects). A physical examination is performed to assess the client’s current functional mobility, strength and capacity for activities of daily living. They too can report and comment on work capacity, mobility equipment needs and requirement for home assistance as necessary.
  • The speech and language therapists can provide their expert opinion on any area of speech, language, communication and swallowing. They will provide recommendations on needs related to assistance or devices required for communication and dysphagia / management of appropriate methods of nutrition.

Referrals for these assessments are made and managed by the legal teams involved in the cases. They will refer to practitioners with the relevant experience in the diagnosis / condition / injury in either the adult or paediatric population. A comprehensive report is supplied followed the assessment that provides details of the assessment and the recommendations. Assessments are conducted on a one on one basis and usually take at least 3 hours on the day of the assessment. Additional days may be required for home or work visits if they are required as part of the process. They also include reviewing relevant medical information and may involve both the claimant and the family as well as consultation with other medical practitioners, employers or educators.