Academy of Chiropractic’s
Lawyers PI Program
From the Desk of:
Mark Studin DC, FASBE (C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
"Credentials and Continuing Education Courses,
Putting you Ahead of the Pack"
What Lawyers & Medical Specialists Have Told us from Coast to Coast
Over the last few years, as I lectured nationally, I have been asking lawyers, both plaintiff and defense alike, the significance of your credentials and their relationship between referring to you or not. For many of you, building your credentials on your CV has become an obsession, while with others, it is a burden.
Let’s peel away the myths and unqualified opinions, in which the latter seems to run rampant in our profession! Many so called "experts" on this subject proffer opinions on what, how and why. To those I give a rousing "Bronx cheer!" The only opinions that I care about is those of our licensure boards and the lawyers that have to get our credentials accepted so that we can testify as experts. Whether or not we can will independently be the deciding factor in if the lawyers will be able to work with us. Please dissect those last words carefully, "...if the lawyers will be able to work with us."
This has been the prevailing comment from lawyers nationally. Will there be some lawyers that have other opinions? Of course. However, the majority of lawyers nationally have to consider their end-games, the courtrooms, and they have to be the judges as to how well you will do on the witness stand. If you have been in the "game" for more than a nanosecond, you will note the obvious; rarely does a case go to court requiring you to testify. Although this is true, the lawyers have to assume that all cases will end up in the courtroom and will rarely engage with a doctor who they feel will not fare well due to poor credentials or will wilt under cross examination.
Credentials, as you should know by now, refer to your formal education. A course given by the "ACME Technique Company" or a manufacturer that carriers no sponsorship or "blessing" from a recognized educational institution or licensure entity will not be taken seriously and often will not carry enough weight to allow you to be considered an expert. It is for this reason that you have to very careful with whom you study and want in your corner when the magnifying glasses come out.
It is for that reason that the Academy of Chiropractic (us) have gone to great lengths to be recognized by Cleveland University, Kansas City, and the State University of New York at Buffalo, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Credentials, perception and legally defensible positions matter greatly when dealing with lawyers, juries, judges and courts. It also matters greatly with the court of public opinion.
Put yourself in the lawyers corner. Who would you have an expert have a credential from, Spine Center, Inc. or the State University of New York at Buffalo, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences? This is a no-brainer and why we spent so much time and money to do it the way that will best serve you.
If we examine the relevant topics required by the courts to qualify you as an expert, we cite a July, 2010 case with a doctor in Maryland that testified on a case where State Farm was the carrier (the state doesn’t matter). This doctor was the first to be tested on these qualifications in the country and was called on to testify on MRI findings, accident reconstruction issues and neurological findings, all in one case, which is why the lawyer chose to work with this doctor, as he only had the following courses in his CV:
1. PI Bootcamp
2. MRI Spine Interpretation
3. Accident Reconstruction
The representative for this carrier, upon this expert being presented to the courts for testimony, requested a recess so that he/she could communicate with his/her office and researchers. Upon the continuance of the trial and after the representative had a chance to do some research, there were no objections to any of the credentials because they are REAL credentials from REAL educational and licensure entities and allowed this doctor to testify with no restrictions.
The end result is that the lawyer who requested this doctor as expert is smiling all the way to the bank after prevailing in the case and immediately informed the doctor that they will be doing a lot of work together in the future. Being the best-of-the-best and having it reflected in formal paperwork, your CV, is the pathway to success if...you have taken the right courses certified by the right entity.
This was the first doctor and since, there have been 1000's of instances where our credentials have withstood inquiry, Voir dire hearing and every other test imaginable as defense lawyers try to get our doctors invalidated,. It is now 20 years later and our Trauma Qualification and all other courses have withstood the scrutiny and no doctor in the nation has had those qualifications denied in court, or in demeaned in a conversation with co-treating medical specialists.
There are currently 11 mandatory courses in the Trauma Qualification that will give you the knowledge and help make you "bulletproof in relationships with lawyers and medical specialists and primary care medical providers. Will they make you a neurologist or radiologist? Of course not, but courses in physical medicine do not make a neurologist a chiropractor. Your DC degree carries a lot of weight and with the added credentials, will qualify you to do so much more and open doors previously considered unimaginable.
Now that you are on par credential-wise, you need to go beyond the competition and get credentials in accident reconstruction. How many doctors that are credentialed to read MRI’s can also testify on the causality of an accident through formal credentials? The answer is very, very few. I am not saying you will have a degree in accident reconstruction, but your credentials will allow your testimony on causality and that is huge!
The claims adjustors will take serious note of that citation on your CV and often offer the lawyer more in settlement so that you do not get to the witness stand to prevent them having higher monetary losses. The defense lawyer, should you get to the witness stand, will cross examine you on your lack of degree in accident reconstruction in an attempt to discredit you. However, at the end of the day, the judge will usually allow your testimony and that is all the plaintiff’s lawyer wants in evidence as testimony from an expert on causality, demonstrable bodily injury and persistent functional loss. You can offer the lawyer all of that in one person, with one fee, often making it unnecessary for them to hire multiple experts and drive up the cost of the trial. As a result, you will also be in the position to charge higher fees to testify, as your credentials will demand that.
REQUIRED TRAUMA TEAM COURSES
- Triage Trauma Patients [Personal Injury Bootcamp]: 9 Hours
- MRI Spine Interpretation: 25 Hours
- Spinal Biomechanical Engineering: 16 Hours
- Spinal Trauma Pathology
- Spinal Disc and Ligament Neurology and Pathology – 7 Hours
- Accident Reconstruction: 8 Hours
- Impairment Rating: 2 Hours
- Head Trauma - Brain Injury or Mild Traumatic Brain Injury: 2 Hours
- Electrodiagnostics; EMG/NCV Interpretation – 10 Hours
- Concussion; TBI-mTBI-PTSD Testing and Diagnosis - 10 Hours
- Stroke Anatomy & Evaluation for Chiropractors and Manual Medicine Specialists: 8 Hours
There are many very, very good courses in the profession for all of us to take. However, these courses were specifically designed to help make you an expert in trauma based upon the course material. In addition, the courses are all tailored to open the eyes of the lawyers and the courts based upon the language of the credential. In addition, we have special pricing plans that allow every doctor in the nation to afford taking these courses now.
Take a long look at your CV and you be the judge. Are you the expert you need to be? If it isn’t formally in writing through your credentials, then it doesn’t exist.