Upcoming Webinar: Being an Empathetic & Persuasive Witness
Time: Thursday, 16 February 2023 @ 5:30–7:00 pm Pacific time
Location: Zoom Virtual Meeting
Here’s what the webinar is about:
“When lenity and cruelty play for a kingdom, the gentler gamester is the soonest winner”
William Shakespeare Henry V: Act 3, Scene 6.
Being far less educated in English literature than our speaker, who provided the above quote, I had to look up the meaning of lenity (being mild or gentle toward others). But this single sentence of advice from Shakespeare 400 years ago may help you be more persuasive. As an expert witness, you will be asked to swear or affirm to tell the whole truth. But how you tell the truth can profoundly influence the way your testimony is perceived by a judge or jury.
Consider this case example: a 42–year–old female, healthy apart from depression and morbid obesity is rear–ended in a collision. After 14 months of treatment including chronic high does opioid analgesics without symptomatic improvement you perform an IME. The examinee
complains of constant diffuse head, neck, and back pain of 15 in severity on a scale of 0–10. On a symptom drawing she enters symbols characterizing the discomfort as sharp, dull, stabbing, burning, aching, and throbbing; and writes in excruciating and horrible. Physical exam is normal apart from the obesity, severe limitations of all spinal motions, and multiple nonorganic physical findings. When leaving the exam room she demonstrates normal thoracolumbar flexion to pick her purse up off the floor. Would your report list diagnoses or impressions of symptom
magnification, somatic symptom disorder, malingering, and/or nonorganic physical findings?
The symptoms and findings suggest one or more of these is justified. Our speaker will recommend caution and tact when including such inherently derogatory diagnoses and impressions in reports since they may be perceived as personal judgments and become fodder for aggressive cross examination and bias accusations. Opinions on more central topics such as causation, treatment, disability, and maximum medical improvement can be compromised if jurors or judges perceive your disapproval of or bias toward an injured person.
Hence a medical expert should look for opportunities to make positive comments regarding the examinee in a report or testimony. Perhaps she arrived on time for the appointment, worked hard to complete the history questionnaire, and/or was cooperative in answering questions during the interview. Does your report/testimony focus criticism for the excessive dose and duration of opioids on the examinee or prescriber? Does it acknowledge an injured person can have multiple life challenges including limited education, divorce, unemployment, childcare responsibilities,
and/or financial problems which could explain some of the unusual symptoms and physical findings? Ultimately, an empathetic, understanding doctor may be perceived as more credible, and hence be a more effective witness. This presentation will discuss ways of report writing and
presenting testimony that truthful, empathetic, and persuasive.
Our speaker, Jack Follis, is an experienced attorney specializing in tort litigation including personal injury. He regularly handles both defense and plaintiff cases. The unique perspective gained therefrom is helpful in litigation and when serving as a mediator and arbitrator. Jack has
been selected as a “Super Lawyer” by Washington Law & Politics Magazine on multiple occasions, and is a frequent guest lecturer at law schools on mediation and arbitration.
Hope you can attend. To join the Zoom meeting click on this link and use the passcode below: