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Use of Medical Narratives in Georgia Personal Injury Cases

Georgia Law now provides that medical testimony may be given in a narrative form that has been signed and dated.  It is no longer necessary to disrupt a doctor’s busy schedule to give a deposition. In some cases, it is beneficial to use a medical narrative from a subsequent treating physician in a lawsuit. Narratives are typically used in auto accident lawsuits in Georgia state courts to secure testimony regarding a doctor’s care and treatment of the plaintiff to be used at trial. Of course, the content of the narrative will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case, however there are a few areas that will appear in most narratives. They are:  

1. A brief curriculum vitae or resume (usually by attaching the doctor’s CV to the report);

2. How the patient came to see the doctor;

3. The history obtained from the patient;

4. The credibility of the patient;

5. The diagnosis of the patient’s injury with an explanation of how painful the injury is and what causes the pain;

6. The course of treatment with the patient, including the number of visits;

7. The progress made by the patient toward recovery;

8. The prognosis of the patient’s injury, including any permanent disability rating which should be assigned or have already been assigned to the patient;

9. The doctor’s opinion as to the connection between the accident that forms the basis of the lawsuit and the injury, including what his or her opinion is based upon (i.e. a reasonable medical certainty or a reasonable degree of medical probability);

10. What charges were incurred by the patient, including whether these charges are usual and customary in the area and field of practice; and

11. Any closing remarks that the treating physician would like to stress to the jury regarding the patient or the injuries.

12.The narrative should be in letter form directed to the jury, and dated and signed and submitted to the Court at least 60 days prior to the trial.

If the above information is contained in the narrative, the narrative can be an effective tool to “fill in the gaps” in a trial. Most doctors who are not employed as testifying experts in the case are reluctant to come to court and testify live in front of the jury. Therefore, the narrative serves its purpose in procuring the doctor’s testimony and not unduly inconveniencing the doctor. During the trial, the narrative is read to the jury as if the doctor were present at trial and the trial judge charges the jury that they should give equal weight to narratives and live testimony.

Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, automobile accident cases, personal injury cases, dental malpractice and medical malpractice lawsuits for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years in and around Atlanta, Georgia and its surrounding areas, including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.