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Understanding The Source of Weak Psych Reports

If you’re an attorney or an adjuster in workers’ compensation or personal injury, general liability, or any jurisdiction where a psych doctor produces a report of their evaluation or treatment in response to the claim of a mental injury, you are always confronted with psych reports that are weak. But do you understand them and do you know how to defeat them? Let me help you do both! This month I’ll tell you how to understand them. In the next two months, I’ll tell you how to beat them.   Many of you who have referred workers’ compensation and personal injury cases to me over the last three plus decades know that I have evaluated between 5,000 and 10,000 applicants and plaintiffs. As part of my practice I’ve read tens of thousands of psych reports, the vast majority of which are demonstrably substantially flawed.    First, a little of my professional history will help to understand what I think is going on. For the first 30 years after getting my Ph.D. I was a full-time college professo
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The Economics of Dismantling Flawed Psych Reports

     I’ve been doing personal injury and workers’ compensation psych cases for over thirty years. In that time I have evaluated about 10,000 claimants. I’ve also reviewed about 50,000 psych reports. For the last 12 years I have written reports and given testimony that conclusively demonstrates that the vast majority of the opposing doctor’s reports are substantially flawed and can be revealed on cross-examination of the doctor to be worthless with regard to a judge and/or jury drawing a reasonable conclusion that a claimant has had a psychiatric injury. As part of what I write in my reports, which are commissioned to critique the opposing doctor’s conclusions, I provide attorneys with a specifically designed line of direct questions that demonstrate to even the most unsophisticated juror the worthlessness of the opposing doctor’s opinions.       My reports are not inexpensive. A typical report costs between $6,000 and $10,000, depending on the number of diagnoses and the number of err

Saving Client Money While Defending Psych Claims

     I’ve been doing psych evaluations for litigation for over 30 years. During that time I’ve worked for both the defense and the plaintiffs or applicants. I’ve read and critiqued between 30,000 and 50,000 psych reports but rarely have I seen a report whose conclusions were adequately supported by the data. For the last 12 years I have been a renegade on a crusade to eliminate substantially flawed reports, being willing to incur the wrath of my colleagues by going into court and testify against other doctors.       As part of my service, I have been writing Apricots™ to help attorneys win their cases. For reasons I cannot really understand, most of my commissions come from defense attorneys although substantial flaws are equally found in reports commissioned by both sides. Regardless, an Apricot™ is a work-product privileged report that helps an attorney cross-examine and/or write a trial brief by describing the substantial flaws found in a psych doctor’s report in jargon-free, non-te

A Horror Story For Insurance Companies

     John Jones gets injured. For this horror story, it doesn’t matter if he was at work or shopping in a supermarket. It doesn’t even matter how the claimed injury occurred or even if he was really injured.       John gets a lawyer to represent his interests. For the sake of discussion, let’s assume the lawyer files the claim saying the injury was psychological or psychiatric. The lawyer then sends John to a psychologist or a psychiatrist for an evaluation and treatment. The doctor writes a report stating that John had an injury. He begins treatment. The insurance company representing the defendant sends John to another doctor for an opinion. That doctor doesn’t completely concur with John’s lawyer’s doctor but agrees that John was psychologically injured.       At some later time in the claims process, the insurance company pays John some money to compensate him for his injury. John, his lawyer, the insurance company, the defense’s lawyer, and both doctors are all happy with the sett

COVID-19 Psychopathology: Normal or Mental Injury?

     It’s no secret that vast numbers of people are getting anxious, depressed and experiencing a variety of psychologically produced physical symptoms as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. One cause of these symptoms is the fear of illness to themselves, relatives and friends. Another cause is the disruption of their lives caused by occupational events such as fellow employees coming down with the illness and the potential of becoming infected as a result. Yet, another cause is the potential of their employer either temporarily or permanently closing their doors resulting in unemployment and an inability to provide for loved ones.       In the area of workers’ compensation, one has to be concerned with whether or not the above-described circumstances constitute a mental health injury as defined by the Labor Code and/or legal regulations. The key here is the definition of a Mental Disorder. In this regard, the DSM-IV-TR is very clear in stating that in order to be a disorder the con

It Takes A Renegade Psychologist To Expose Flawed Psych Reports

     I’ve been writing this newsletter and publishing one issue each month since 2009. This is the 140th issue of my newsletter providing what I feel is valuable information for attorneys and insurance adjusters who read medical-legal reports from psychologists, psychiatrists and neuropsychologists. All of my newsletters can be downloaded for free from my website: The motivation for writing these newsletters has been my 30+ years of evaluating approximately 10,000 personal injury and workers’ compensation litigants and my time as a university professor at San Diego State University, during which it has been no secret that psychologists, psychiatrists and neuropsychologists who write medical-legal reports count on not being called on their errors because it is difficult to find a doctor who is willing to stand up and call them on their mistakes. Perhaps they count on their “fraternity” and “sorority” brothers and sisters in the profession not to make waves. Certainly,

Flawed Psych Reports: Winners and Losers

     I have to admit that for the 35 years I have been practicing forensic psychology I have been on a crusade.       Before I started my practice I was a tenured full professor, an academic who did research, wrote and edited journal articles and books, served on Ph.D. committees and taught a variety of courses. Believe it or not, although I wrote a book on boredom, eventually my life at the university became boring. One afternoon while playing tennis with an orthopedist friend I was complaining about my boredom when he said, “Have you ever thought about doing workers’ compensation?” I said, “What’s that?” He replied that he would bring me some psych reports and did so at our next tennis game. I took a quick look at those reports and said, “You’re kidding! This is garbage. I can do a better job standing on my head.” That was the beginning of the biggest change in my life!       For the last 35 years I’ve focused on how awful most medical-legal reports are. In fact, I’ve read what I est