Dr. Skala’s Specialities & Services
- Independent medical examinations
- Medical record review
- Expert witness testimony in cases of personal injury
- Medical malpractice
- Agreed medical examinations (AMA)
- Subsequent injury fund cases (SIF)
- Qualified medical evaluations (QME)
Independent Medical Examination (IME)
An independent medical examination (IME) occurs when an injured person is examined by a physician trained in forensic examination who has not previously been involved in a person’s care examines an individual. There is no doctor-patient relationship.
IMEs may be conducted to determine the cause, extent and medical treatment of a work-related or other injury where liability is at issue; whether an individual has reached maximum benefit from treatment; and whether any permanent impairment remains after treatment. An IME may be conducted at the behest of an employer or an insurance carrier to obtain an independent opinion of the clinical status of the individual. Workers’ compensation insurance carriers, auto insurance carriers, and self-insured employers have a legal right to this request.
Should the doctor performing the IME conclude that a patient’s medical condition is not related to a compensable event, the insurer may deny the claim and refuse payment. Should the IME conclude that there has been an injury and further treatment is indicated, reasonable and necessary treatment and diagnostic studies can be recommended.
Medical Record Review
Dr. Richard Skala provides medical record review in:
- Industrial Injury cases
- Personal Injury cases
- Malpractice cases
Medical records are reviewed in worker’s compensation as a part of Qualified Medical Evaluations (QME), Agreed Medical Examinations (AME) and in cases where questions regarding various issues such as standard of care, continuity of factors etc. arise. The QME and AME cases typically focus on causation of injury, disability, impairment and apportionment of disability / impairment.
Review of Personal Injury case medical records typically focuses on addressing issues of severity of injury, continuity of effects of mechanism of injury and bodily injuries as well as outcomes of treatment.
Review of medical malpractice case medical records focuses on issues of standard of care and negligence.
A deposition is sworn testimony of a party or witness taken before a court reporter. During a deposition, all parties and their attorneys have the right to be present and to question the deponent. As indicated, testimony is given under oath with a written transcript produced of all of the questions and responses by the witness. Depositions may also be videotaped, which is increasing in frequency with lower cost and better technology.
The primary purpose of a deposition, in pre-trial proceedings, is to obtain information from the witness and determine what he or she knows or remembers about the facts of the case and can support his/her conclusions/opinions.
Expert witness testimony in cases of personal injury
Even where a defendant’s negligence may be clear, litigants rarely agree on the nature, extent or cause of a plaintiff’s personal injuries.
Nor do the doctors. In serious personal injury cases, each side will call one or more medical experts to provide their professional opinions on the plaintiff’s condition, the true cause of her injuries, the reasonableness of medical treatment, and the nature and extent of physical impairment.
Ultimately, a jury without any medical training whatsoever will have to weigh the complex and conflicting testimony of licensed physicians to determine who will win this contentious “battle of the experts.” Since winning this contest is essential to winning the case as a whole, the battle of the medical experts starts long before the trial itself. Although accident victims often call their own treating physicians to the stand, defendants and their insurance companies hire their own doctors to examine those seeking to recover for serious and permanent physical injuries.
Almost all medical malpractice cases require testimony from a medical expert. The facts are usually too complex for non-doctors to determine if the patient’s doctor should be held liable for the patient’s injury. In fact, in many states you must get a medical expert’s opinion before you can initiate a lawsuit.
It pays to learn ahead of time why expert testimony is crucial in medical malpractice cases, what that testimony consists of, who may serve as an expert, and when an expert might not be necessary.
Agreed Medical Examinations (AMA)
Dr. Skala is available for AME services involving California Workers Compensation cases. As a licensed QME since 1992, who has performed more than 2,500 QME examinations he has extensive background in providing medical legal opinions on the central issues of disability, impairment and apportionment of permanent disability in worker’s compensation cases. Dr. Skala has testified at WCAB proceedings in many venues including San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, Salinas, Marysville and Pomona. He has been deposed on hundreds of occasions.
Subsequent Injury Fund Cases (SIF)
Dr. Skala has been providing medical legal services to SIF cases for several years. He has completed the CAAA three day SIF course in Hawaii. Recently a Northern California attorney commented about a SIF case report saying “Best SIF medical legal report I have ever seen”.
Qualified Medical Evaluations (QME)
Dr. Skala has been providing QME medical legal services since 1992. He currently is available for QME at 10 locations including locations in Northern and Southern California. He has been chosen from QME panels by claims administrators, injured workers, defense attorneys and applicant attorneys.