Objective Evidence is the Objective!

How do you prove physical injury when judges, defense, lawyers, and adjusters ignore SUBJECTIVE complaints of pain and disability?

The answer is objective evidence.

Experienced Herndon Virginia injury lawyer Doug Landau notes that where there is OBJECTIVE proof of injury or deficit, insurance companies, and the lawyers are less able to defend against the claim.

  • So how do you show objective evidence after a car crash, fall, dog bite or other personal injury causing event?

There are many tools at the doctors and physical therapists disposal to address this. In addition to x-rays showing broken bones, MRIs showing herniated discs in the spine, CT scans, monograms, and other diagnostic studies, there are less invasive and much less expensive methods of determining permanent injury. that can be done in the office or the physical therapy facility. Doug Landau frequently reads medical records that indicate “ROM” (range of motion) is normal, strength is five out of five, and similar comments that suggest there is no injury, deficit, or loss from the injury. However, he rarely sees physical therapists or doctors taking the time to actually measure objectively the parts of the body that have been impacted.

The goniometer (angle measuring device), reflex hammer and tape measure are all inexpensive, non-invasive tools that can enable doctors, physical therapists and even family members to measure objective evidence of permanent injury.

In this picture, you can see several of the tools that enable doctors, and even family members, to take measurements that could prove critically important in demonstrating the nature and extent of the injury. What looks like 2 rulers attached at one end is a goniometer. It is used to measure range of motion and joint angles. So, if someone’s right lower leg only moves 60° on the injured side, versus 120° on the non-injured side, they have lost HALF of the range and flexibility that they had previously enjoyed. This is a measurable loss that can be documented by the authorized treating physician, a defense medical examiner, and even the family doctor.

The reflex hammer is another tool to use to measure neurological response. The jerking of the knee, ankle and other bodyparts would be difficult to fake. The testing is readily available, non-invasive and inexpensive in the hands of a trained medical professional.

The tape measure is another one of Doug Landau’s favorite tools for objectively measuring changes in the body after an injury.  If someone has had a loss of muscle, and or innervation into a muscle, the injured limb might be a lot smaller than the non-injured limb. For example, if after an injury to the leg, the injured left calf is only 11 inches in circumference, versus 17 inches on the non-injured side, that is a significant difference that can be shown by measurements with a simple tape measure, as well as photographs against a grid or other background of known dimensions.

Lawyer Landau finds it very frustrating when physical therapists and doctors will not take a moment to document and record these measurements. Instead, many doctors will simply “eyeball” the range of motion and guess at the numbers. Or, they will “ballpark” the findings. Sometimes an orthopedic surgeon or neurologist will just test strength against their hands, estimating any deficit, but without precise findings. Landau has reviewed medical records where the physical therapists and doctors fail to notice and document: atrophy, muscle wasting, discoloration, spasms, changes in skin temperature (one side hotter or colder than the other because of circulatory injury) and other objective, measurable findings.

Doug Landau is unhappy about the lack of objective testing by doctors and physical therapists when there are relatively easy, inexpensive and non-invasive ways to record objective medical findings. Patients need to speak up and ask that their doctors do more than “eyeball” or “Ballpark” their permanent injuries and deficits.

Studying Applied Anatomy & Physiology in Graduate School at Boston University, Doug Landau was tested on a Cybex machine that could record the strength of various muscles. What made this testing so important is that it would record the efforts over a number of repetitions and tests, to determine the effort put forth as well as whether it was a valid test. Jut like with the Jamar Grip test, if someone tried to give less than a full, honest effort, the strength curves would not align and they would be found out. That is why Landau looks for these kinds of test. and their results, when putting together the best evidence for his clients’ cases.

Objective medical evidence is critical, especially when a case is being presented to a judge and jury who may not have had any medical training whatsoever. Showing critical, reproducible evidence, can overcome the defense’s suggestion that purely subjective complaints are not real, and only motivated by greed. Clients would rather have their health rather than money, so this suggestion by insurance defense counsel is mean and wrong. Lawyer Landau points out that you cannot fake atrophy to one side of your body, nor can you counterfeit muscle wasting, changes in coloration, spasm, or limited range of motion in a joint. Objective medical evidence gives a judge and jury a firm foundation upon which to base a full and fair compensation verdict.

If you, or someone you care about has been permanently injured, no fault of their own, and there are questions about the laws that apply in the best way to present evidence, please call us at 703–796–9555 or email us at frontdesk@landaulawshop.com right away, as thee are strict legal timelines for injury cases.