If you’re an attorney with a case that involves scientific or medical evidence, legal nurse consulting services can help.
Martinez and Kaschins offers expert legal nurse consulting services. Our extensive experience in this area has helped attorneys save time and money as they navigate the complex medical and scientific issues in their cases. We offer more than a decade of legal nurse consulting services, and the quality and value of our work is second to none.
Legal nurse consultants (LNC) are registered nurses trained to evaluate an injury or illness, review and interpret medical records, and assess the quality of patient care in the context of a civil or criminal legal action. In addition to extensive nurse training and healthcare expertise, a LNC also has specific legal training such that they understand – and can educate the attorney – about the legal significance of medical or scientific evidence in a given case.
For example, in a personal injury case, legal nurse consulting services can help the attorney make an objective, evidence-based assessment of: the severity or extent of the injury; the proximate cause of the injury; the legitimacy of whether the injury was exacerbated by substandard medical care or contributory negligence; the basis for a punitive damages claim; the need for and type of expert witness(s); the focal points for effective cross examination of the opposition’s medical expert(s); and the overall most effective case strategy.
In a criminal case, legal nurse consultants can help the criminal defense lawyer: assess whether the charges are appropriate given the prosecution’s evidence; prepare and effectively argue motions to dismiss or other other preliminary motions; obtain additional or missing medical evidence with discovery demands or motions to compel; prepare highly effective cross examination of physicians and other experts who testify for the prosecution; develop a persuasive theory of innocence based on the objective medical evidence (where appropriate); and implement strategies for presenting complicated medical evidence to the jury or judge.
If I’m a lawyer with a case that involves an injury or medical evidence, what is the advantage of utilizing legal nurse consulting services with Martinez and Kaschins, LLC?
Although most legal nurse consultants have legal training, he/she generally is not a lawyer with the skills and insight of an experienced attorney. However, at Martinez and Kaschins, LLC, one of our named partners – Kelly Martinez – is both a legal nurse consultant and a licensed and experienced trial attorney. The added insight and efficiency this brings to our legal nurse consulting services means significant cost savings, as well as more in-depth assistance.
Our legal nurse consulting services include:
- Initial case screenings for merit: Screening for a case doesn’t happen in a vacuum; being able to take the non-medical reports (witness statements, police reports, etc.) and compare them to the medical reports to determine if the alleged injury is consistent is essential to any strong defense in a criminal case and critical in determining if you should pursue a personal injury claim.
- Identify standards of care, causation and damage issues: Healthcare is generally provided within an algorithm or guidelines that direct the manner and way that healthcare is delivered. Nursing policies and procedures can be found in any institution but understanding how those policies and procedures are applied on a practical level requires the experience and knowledge of an individual who has worked in that industry.
- Conduct research and summarize medical literature: Medical reports are replete with medical jargon and short hand abbreviations that must be broken down so attorneys can understand and use the reports to their advantage. This is critical not only when discussing the case with the client but when presenting the evidence to a judge and jury
- Identify and apply multidisciplinary standards of care: The care of a patient involves the coordination of many different healthcare providers and even outside providers. Emergency care requires input from law enforcement, paramedics, and witnesses to an event to effectively and efficiently identify injuries and provide appropriate treatment. If one individual fails to act diligently a cascade effect can occur and result in an adverse outcome.
- Prepare chronologies of medical events and compare and correlate them to the allegations: Preparation of any case requires a timeline. That progression is critical in understanding how/when/where/what caused the alleged injuries. An experienced nurse and Attorney would be able to compare the medical records/reports and analyze them in context with the non-medical reports, i.e. witness statements, law enforcement, to either support or disprove the allegations. Some injuries are expected, others are not. Without a complete understanding of the mechanisms of injuries it is impossible to understand how/what defense may be available or how to develop a case strategy
- Assist with client, attorney, and expert witness communication
- Organize medical records, locate and formulate discovery request for additional/missing records: Healthcare providers are required to document and maintain records on patients within their care. Most records are contained within the medical record itself, but some are not. The records that you don’t know about may contain the smoking gun in your case.
- Collaborate in preparing or analyzing complaints, answers, and motions for summary judgments, interrogatories, depositions, trial outlines, voir dire, queries for direct and cross-examination, identify strongest claims/defenses and assist with legal strategy
- Determine if an expert is needed and what type of expert is needed: It is impossible to know everything about everything and just like attorneys, not just any doctor or medical expert will work. Reviewing records to determine what type of specialist would best serve your client will save you and your client time and money
- Assist with presentation of complex scientific/medical evidence
- Pursue motions to compel discovery and argue to the court: Medical information is highly confidential and protected by the courts. However, knowing what information is relevant and critical to your case can be challenging to obtain. The knowledge of what type of information may exist and why it is relevant to the case must be explained to the judge in order to be successful in obtaining that information. Legal nurse consulting services can help with this.
Examples of how our legal nurse consulting services and expertise can help you provide better representation for your clients:
Divorce/Custody Cases: You meet with a client, John Doe. John Doe is currently involved in a contentious custody battle with his ex-wife Jane. John and Jane have a two year old son together. Two days ago, the child slipped while playing and broke his arm. John took the child to the ER. John is now in your office with a stack of medical records and x-rays from the ER visit. He is terrified that Jane will accuse him of abusing the child in an attempt to deny him custody or that she will involve the authorities in an attempt to have your child charged criminally. Legal nurse consulting services can help you evaluate: What do the records mean? Are the injuries consistent with what was reported, are the injuries normal childhood injuries or are there indications of malicious punishment, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect?
Criminal Case: You meet with client, John Doe. John Doe has been charged with felony domestic assault-strangulation and assault of an unborn child. John Doe and Jane Doe have been in a contentious relationship for many years and are expecting their first child together. Jane has started up another relationship with Bob and no longer wishes to have John in her life. Jane notifies law enforcement that she was assaulted by John. Jane tells officers that John “choked” her and that he kicked her in the abdomen. Officers transport Jane to the emergency room. John is terrified. You request and receive a stack of medical reports, laboratory results, x-rays, and ultrasound reports. Not only is Jane seen in the ER but she is observed in Obstetrics for a period of time, however those reports are not included. What studies were done or not done? What may those OB reports show? If no studies were done what medical information can be found in the police interview? John vehemently denies the allegations and the case goes to trial. Dr. Wally takes the stand and testifies that he conducted an ultrasound and the results are normal. He also testifies that he noted marks on Jane’s abdomen. Legal nurse consulting services can help you determine: What questions can you ask that are helpful to your case to disprove that the marks were the result of an alleged assault?