Tag Archive for: Personal Injury


OT Success at the LAT

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

For those working in the personal injury and medical-legal fields, you will be familiar with the new License Appeal Tribunal (LAT)This LAT, effective April 1, 2016 was FSCO’s solution to long wait lists in the previous SABS mediation process whereby insurers and claimants essentially try to resolve disputes about claimant’s benefits, rehabilitation, or other denials and discrepancies. 

Recently, we received one of those “feel good” emails from a lawyer that was able to successfully argue for a client at the LAT – because of the information they received from the treating occupational therapist.

The email read like this:

…[the OT] prepared an attendant care comparison report for us, which we fully relied on at a LAT case conference today.  The client was also put under surveillance and [the OT] was able to extensively rebut all their findings, which we also relied on today at the case conference.  I truly believe we were successful today because of her hard work.”

I am biased, but occupational therapists are generally pretty awesome.  Where lawyers speak “legalese”, insurers speak “SABS ease”, doctors speak “medical ease”, occupational therapists speak “functional ease”.  We work hard to make sense of things – for our clients and our customers.  We want to help the client be understood and for others to know the true impact that an accident or illness has had on their day to day ability to manage important activities.  Chronic Pain, Depression, or even a broken leg does not really equate to much unless it is in the context of what that means for that person: for Mr. X, chronic pain means they can’t walk their kids to school, or assist them with homework, for Ms. Y her depression has resulted in her dropping out of her post-secondary program, losing her scholarship, for Mr. Z his broken leg is preventing him from working at both of his jobs and as a result he is unable to afford his housing and food for his family….

Sure, lawyers and insurers can put things into context without an occupational therapist, but I would argue that we are trained to ask different questions – questions that get to the heart of disability and dysfunction, while at the same time helping people to tell their story from a place of vulnerability and honesty.  We strip things down to be simple, but yet impactful in explaining what disability means to that one person.

We still find that some lawyers don’t involve an occupational therapist early enough.  They wait until the client is several years post injury to see if it is “needed”.  But guess what?  It was often needed the entire time, and waiting so long only served to leave the impression that the client was “functioning fine” because there would be little practical or functional data or evidence to indicate otherwise.  Have you seen doctor’s notes?  “Back pain, off work X 3 months”….not enough to explain the context of disability.

Occupational therapy is greatly important in the recovery, rehabilitation, medical-legal and personal injury domain.  And if we can’t help your client to live, manage or function better, at the least we can provide the information and evidence to help you to be successful in other areas of the claim, including at the LAT. 


Personal Injury Advertising – A Picture is Worth….

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

I was recently at a stoplight in Hamilton, stuck behind three busses spanning three of the four lanes in front of me.  All three were covered in ads for three different law firms, all personal injury.  Drive another block and there are anywhere between four to eight billboards again advertising personal injury services.  Some are soft, subtle and warm.  Others are creative, catchy and cleaver.  Then there are those that are more fear-mongering, “in your face”, and aggressive.  Whatever the style, message or format, clearly these ads represent the culture of the advertising firm, leaving the “buyer” to choose the approach that best might meet their needs.

Now the focus of this blog is to not bash the way lawyer advertising has evolved.  If signs in parking garages, washrooms, bars, hospitals, or on busses, benches and billboards work, go for it.   Lawyers are intelligent people, if the ROI on these investments is not paying off, I assume they would find an alternative.  However, I do know that within their own community, through events I have attended and articles I have read, that many firms are being criticized for the approach they are taking with the more aggressive “you don’t pay until we win” mentality.  Also, the fear-mongering approach directed at a population of vulnerable and often disadvantaged people can be viewed by many as distasteful.  Honestly, I think the public are becoming somewhat desensitized to the vast number of ads marketing the same thing and the more these ads surface, the less impactful they become.  But as a business owner, I can understand the intense competition in the industry and respect any professional who invests in their business, or themselves, to make a buck.

Where I think these ads need to improve, however, is in the representation of people with disabilities.  Some ads get this perfectly.  They show everyday survivors (presumably “real” past clients) doing the things they love, or “living” after their tragedy.  That, to me, hits the nail on the head.  Others though use images that are transparently “fake” and confuse the message.  Taking a photo of a fit, young(ish) person in Lululemon clothing who looks like they are ready for the Paralympics but is sitting in a clunker wheelchair from the 70’s just doesn’t jive.  The image is flawed and the message is lost.

As an advocate for people with disabilities, I would like to see a movement of “real” people with “real” disabilities center-stage for these ads, and in any ad for that matter, that is trying to represent this population.  Why?  Because it is easy for a non-disabled person to sit in a wheelchair for a photo, but the reverse is not true in that a person who actually uses a wheelchair cannot just “stand-up” to pose as a “non-disabled person” for a photo shoot.  So, let’s give the money spent on stock-photos, modeling and the resulting income to the population of people that “live” these problems, not to regular people who don’t truly represent.

And yes, I am guilty of this as well.  In searching for website stock photos we found several where the person in a wheelchair is standing in the next image.  Or, the one where you see the back of my husband sitting in a wheelchair to capture the image of a once real, but now needed-to-be-simulated, client-Julie interaction.

In searching for a way to better support the community of disabled persons, and to ensure the photos we use in our own media align with “real” people, we came across these sites which sell “true” stock images:

Lawyers working in personal injury – I hope you will join the movement to improve the representation of “disabled people” in your ads to, if nothing else, better support that community financially, realistically and appropriately in your advertising.


Occupational Therapy Works For Personal Injury

October is Occupational Therapy month in Canada.  This month we will be celebrating and sharing on our blog everything OT.  In our OT Month series, “OT Works Here,” we will be highlighting some of the key areas in which OT works to change lives by providing solutions for living.

Today we want to highlight the many ways that Occupational Therapy works in cases of personal injury in the following infographic:


Personal Injury and Occupational Therapy: How We Help

Julie Entwistle, MBA, BHSc (OT), BSc (Health / Gerontology)

As one of the largest Occupational Therapy companies in the province, we are noticing a growing trend towards lawyers requesting an occupational therapy assessment and opinion in medical-malpractice, medical-legal, and personal injury lawsuits.  Why is an occupational therapy opinion so important?  Here are the key reasons:

1.  No other profession assess ALL areas of function in the place where people live, work and play – OT is one stop shopping for understanding the physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioral aspects of disability in the environments where people function.

2.  Our reports highlight the story of disability and include information on how injury has translated into lost independence, altered life roles, impacted quality of life and reduced productivity.   This is essential for helping others to truly understand not just the medical issues, but the LIFE issues.

3.  Our assessment and treatment recommendations see the big picture.  We highlight someone’s needs now and into the future, and can indicate how disability and dysfunction will progress as someone ages or changes in time.

4.  Our reports are not fraught with jargon.  Instead, they highlight very practical and real issues that are easily understood and related to by all.  They can help one best understand if and how the injury has truly impacted life and living.

5.  Our assessments are typically more economical than other professionals and our reports often highlight other assessment and treatment needs (both private and public) to help you and your client know where to go to find solutions.

6.  OT’s are also excellent at Future Cost of Care Assessments or Life Care Plans.  These comprehensive reports price someone’s future needs including attendant care, housekeeping, home maintenance, and caregiving, along with device replacement costs and the costs for future therapies.   These aid in the quantification of injury to increase rewards.

The bottom line is that occupational therapy opinions and reports are a crucial aspect of outlining the impact of disability on daily life.  If you are a personal injury lawyer and you are not regularly using occupational therapy assessments and reports in your practice, perhaps consider how this can aid in your ability to help people receive optimal compensation for their loss.