Occupational Therapy Expert Witness
In cases where there has been an accident or injury and there is a claim to be made be a client, or if a claim is being made for medical negligence, an occupational therapy expert witness may be required to provide a report on the claimant for the court which is both detailed and unbiased.
The role of the therapist
An occupational therapy expert witness is required to provide information, clarification, opinion and impartial advice to a court to enable them to come up with a fair and reasonable conclusion to all parties involved in a case.
Most cases that an occupational therapy expert witness participates in are ones of personal injury claims or medical neglect, and are often instructed on those cases by a client's Lawyer or Solicitor. There are other reasons that an occupational therapist can be used as an expert witness, this could be in cases of:
- Divorce where disability is involved
- Disability discrimination
- Social services appeals
- Professional negligence
- Educational tribunal work
The occupation therapist will be asked to supply expert opinions to assist the court on the claimant's functional situation and quantifying the financial compensation. They may also be asked to help in decisions that are based around liability such as a breach in professional duties.
To be classed as an occupational therapy expert witness the therapist will generally be expected to have at least six years clinical expertise and three years in the field of occupational therapy. They should also be qualified in all areas of occupational therapy.
When a therapist is instructed by a client's solicitors or referral agency they can be participating in a case that can last a number of years to resolve.
Assessment and report
The occupational therapy expert witness will be required as instruct to conduct an in-depth report into the client. This will report will be need to be completely unbiased, it will involve a analysis into the client`s lifestyle before the injury, accident or case of medical neglect had taken place, including their ability to function within their own home.
Also carried out in the report are projections for the future life of the claimant. This will involve any modifications that may need to be made to the home to enable independence and any equipment that may be needed such as wheelchairs or walking aids, walk in baths and through floor lifts. If the claimant is still eligible to drive then modifications may need to take place on vehicles. Any future occupational therapist care will also be factored in.
Once the assessment has been carried out on the client, a report will take around a month to be filed and forwarded. The report will be forwarded to the instructing Solicitor or referral agent and a copy is also sent to the client`s GP as a matter of professional courtesy.
Therapists can also act as a single joint expert as-well as on behalf of the defendant or claimant. A claimant can expect around a 70% percentage if a case is ruled in their favour.