When it comes time to resolve a client’s injury case, explaining complex surgical procedures to an insurance adjuster...or to the jury...can be difficult. For that reason, a medical illustration...like a picture...can be worth a thousand words.
Personal injury attorney, James O. Cunningham, regularly uses photographic enlargements of accident scenes and medical illustrations to impress upon the insurance company or jury the severity of a client’s injury. Medical illustrations are not inexpensive but they can help convey the steps taken to perform, for example, a total hip joint replacement surgery that a client required after having been struck by a van.
In another case involving a traumatic brain injury, a colorized version of an MRI taken of his client’s skull shortly after the incident showed the existence and location of a skull fracture and the presence of blood in the subarachnoid space. Although his client appeared normal, this medical illustration helped to show the serious nature of the initial injury and also helped explain why the client continued to have ongoing mental and cognitive difficulties.
It has been said that the definition of minor surgery is surgery that happens to someone else. No surgery is minor, even surgery to repair a broken ankle suffered by a client who tripped and fell in a negligently maintained parking lot.
Some clients suffer significant injuries from what initially appears to be a minor accident. This was the case when a middle aged man was rear-ended and his vehicle suffered less than $300.00 in property damage. The day after the accident, he went to the emergency room with complaints of neck pain and was discharged with anti-inflammatory medications. He returned a week later and x-rays of his neck revealed significant degenerative changes. These changes often take years to develop.
In this client’s case, his family doctor’s medical records showed that he no prior complaints of neck pain, stiffness or limited range of motion during the eleven years before this car accident. It turned out that this “minor” accident permanently aggravated the pre-existing arthritis in his neck which had been asymptomatic - or dormant. By the time of trial, the client looked normal. The medical illustrations depicting his anterior cervical fusion helped to achieve a large recovery shortly before trial.
The extra effort and expense incurred to obtain medical illustrations can often increase the value of a client’s case because the insurance company clearly understands the severity of the client’s injuries and also understands that the case is ready to move forward into litigation in the event that a fair and amicable settlement cannot be reached.