Question: Please can anybody who has made/is planning to make a personal injury claim from their employer for RSI tell me whether osteopath, physio, shiatsu practitioner’s reports are given as much weight in the legal process, as GP’s reports? Or are GPs’ reports given less consideration than consultants’ reports? I have a GP report on my RSI which at best sits on the fence, at worst makes it sound as if I could have injured my arms by falling over and spraining them.
The osteo & physio diagnose RSI. Should I go back to another GP at my doctors’ surgery to say I would like a second opinion, and a second report? Or try to get referred to a consultant?
Answer 1: When I sought legal advice I was told that only consultants opinions would count and that my lawyer would send me to see appropriate experts, my company would probably also want me to see their experts. The impression I got was that GPs opinions on these things don’t really count as they don’t have enough expertise. As for osteos etc they still seem to be regarded as ‘alternative’ and unproven because the thinking behind them is unconventional for the mainstream medical world, despite what many of us who use these therapies might think.
Of course there is always the ‘placebo effect’ (i.e. 30-40% feel better when given placebo) of these therapies which would support the medical opinion that RSI is all in the head. I’m not saying I agree with the above but they are all things that have been said to me since I got RSI in ’99. Good luck if you go ahead with the court case.
Answer 2: You have my absolute sympathy. The only thing worse than suffering itself, is the legal argument surrounding whether or not you have a problem. To cut a long story short, if you have a solicitor, then he should refer you to a consultant who will be a registered expert witness. This person will then examine you and make a report on your condition to your solicitor. Based on that report your solicitor will be able to advise you on whether you have a case or not.
This consultant will of course refer to your FULL medical history from your GP, and from anyone else you tell him has medical notes on you. When cases such as these go to court, there are two issues at stake. The first is that of negligence. The question will be asked and will have to be answered… was your employer negligent in his statutory duty to you to ensure that you had a safe working environment? The second question that will be asked is IF he was negligent, did that negligence cause you injury?
That is where the medical report comes in to answer that question. If the consultant can link negligence to injury then you have a case. Having said the above, cases of DIFFUSE RSI are still VERY hard to prove (diffuse RSI being where there is an absolute lack of physical evidence such as swelling of the wrists to suggest you have an injury). Not all cases are this straight forward. It still might be possible to prove injury without proving negligence. All of the advice I this message is my experience only. EVERY CASE IS DIFFERENT SO PLEASE SEE A SOLICITOR.
The legal battles are very complicated, very time consuming and very stressful. They can also be VERY expensive. If you are seeing a solicitor then he should have made all of these points already and/or arranged for you to see a consultant expert witness. Due to the expense involved in litigation, a lot of people fall in to the trap of proceeding on a no win no fee basis. A no win/no fee agreement only covers your solicitor.
It does NOT cover the cost of seeing a specialist and the cost of his report (which can run in to 1000s), barristers fees (which can run in to 1000s), other specialists fees (such as an ergonomist to report on your working conditions – which can run into 1000s) and court fees (which should only amount to a few hundred pounds). If you can afford these fees then fine… at least you wont have to pay for your solicitors fees as well. BUT, make sure if you do undertake a conditional fee agreement with your solicitor, that he provides you with conditional fee agreement insurance.
This will cover you in the event that you loose your case and have to pay the other side’s fees. ALSO, check your home and contents insurance. If you have what is popularly known as ‘Family Legal Protection’ then there is a possibility that personal injury in the work place is covered and they will pay for EVERYTHING to bring your case to court. BUT, it will NOT cover any costs that YOU are ordered to pay the other side if you loose. Another good source of information is your local Citizens Advice Bureau.