The form that follows assumes that the defense attorney has hired a doctor to examine the plaintiff and now the defense attorney has prepared direct examination questions to ask the doctor at trial. This checklist is built for the defense attorney to use as a checklist in performing the direct examination.
In the below checklist, the plaintiff is referred to as “Millie Jones.” “D/A” refers to the actual date of the accident, e.g., January 12, 2010.
Trial Checklist – Defense Direct Examination of Defense Doctor
I asked you to examine Millie Jones so you could tell us about her injuries, didn’t I?
Did you do that?
Is such an examination and the conditions involved within your area of medical expertise?
1. QUALIFICATIONS OF DOCTOR
Doctor, are you a specialist in a certain field of medicine?
Please describe that specialty for us.
[Alternatively, if this is not a specialist, but rather a general family doctor or other primary care provider, the defense attorney will ask:]
“Doctor, are you a [family doctor, primary care provider, et cetera]?
Are the sorts of injuries claimed by Millie Jones, the sort of injuries that a [family doctor, primary care provider, et cetera] is trained to diagnose and treat?”
How long have you been a doctor?
Where is your office located?
What medical training have you had, before you were licensed in this state?
What medical training have you had, after you were licensed in this state?
What did you have to do to be certified as a specialist in ______?
Where are you licensed to practice medicine?
Doctor, I have some details of your professional life. Would you listen to this and tell me at the end if what I mention is correct? [The defense attorney will read the list – but leave out any publications and teaching positions.] I know I may not have mentioned everything you have done, but are those credentials I have read correct?
Have medical journals [or medical book publishers] published things you have written?
If medical journals are involved, the defense attorney will ask the doctor to explain what “peer reviewed” means in regard to the articles he has written for journals.
If book chapters or books are involved, the defense attorney will ask the doctor if the book is written to teach other doctors.
Have you been appointed or chosen to teach other doctors? Tell us about those teaching duties?
Doctor, if I ask for your opinion, there is an implied part of my question, which is “to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.” I want you to answer my questions only if you have a reasonable degree of medical certainty. Do you agree that in answering my questions, you only will give an opinion if it is to a reasonable degree of medical certainty?
So then, the judge, the jury, and we attorneys can know, that if you state an opinion, it is given as an opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty?
Doctor, you have told us that you examined Millie Jones so you could tell us about the injuries she is claiming from the accident. When and where did you do that examination?
What history did you obtain from Millie Jones?
What history did you obtain from plaintiff?
What history did you obtain from medical records?
What history did you obtain from other sources?
What physical examination did you do of Millie Jones and what did it show?
Did you have any tests, consultations, or studies that were done on Millie Jones?
What were they and what did they show?
Would you explain for us some of the anatomy and medical principles that you found that are involved in Millie Jones’ medical conditions? (Doctor to give description of anatomical parts and injury.)
Tell us your diagnosis regarding the medical conditions or injuries of Millie Jones after D/A.
Dr. [Plaintiff’s testifying doctor] has testified that [state differing opinion]. Why do your opinions differ from [plaintiff’s testifying doctor]?
4. IF PRE-EXISTING CONDITION
Was [condition] caused by the accident of D/A?
What was the cause of [condition] Plaintiff has?
Would you explain the basis for your opinion that Plaintiff had [condition] before D/A?
Are there exhibits or medical history that are involved with your opinion?
Did this [condition] exist before D/A?
Is plaintiff’s [condition] the same as if he/he had never had the accident?
Are there limitations on work due to pre-existing condition?
Are the limitations on work the same as if he/she had never had the accident?
5. IF CLAIM IS BROADER THAN CONDITIONS FOUND
Doctor, in the legal papers in this case, the Plaintiff Millie Jones claimed the accident caused her to have [condition]. Did the accident cause Plaintiff to have [condition]?
Is [condition] based on Plaintiff’s Claims?
6. RETURN TO WORK
Can Plaintiff return to work?
When can Plaintiff return to work?
Does the Plaintiff have limitations on work that can be done?
7. EXPECTED FUTURE COURSE OF THE PROBLEMS
What is your opinion regarding the future effect of injury on body functions? (Impairment)
What is your opinion regarding the future effect of injury on daily living and work?
What is your opinion regarding the future treatment and expense arising out of accident?
What is your opinion regarding the future pain arising out of accident?
The defense attorney will end with a short revisit to the strongest area of testimony that he or she wants the jury to remember as plaintiff’s attorney begins their cross-examination.