Overview of Forensic Services in Rehab

The IARP Forensic Section provides a venue for rehabilitation professionals who provide Forensic Expert services in matters of litigation, such as worker's compensation, personal injury, product liability, medical/professional malpractice, catastrophic injury, and others.

Ethical standards, practices, and common situations found in the litigation process are accessible through numerous tools and benefits available to the Forensic section member. In establishing a professional forensic vocational rehabilitation practice the information offered by this section can be invaluable to the entrepreneur.

Our typical section member serves as an expert in one or more of the areas of vocational/medical rehabilitation, medical care costs, vocational and earning capacity, lost earnings, cost of replacement services and lost ability/time in performing household services. They perform evaluations for purposes of civil litigation, as an aspect of economic damages. A forensic "expert" is designated by an attorney as an expert who testifies in court, whereas a "consultant" does not testify.

The primary expert disciplines can be threefold comprising analysis of the vocational, medical care/life care plan and economic components.

Vocational experts identify what the person could have earned prior to the incident, compared to what they are likely to earn following the incident. Economic experts calculate the value of those earnings over time, so the difference, if any, between the two income streams is clearly understood. Those who act as vocational/economic experts blend the two disciplines, and offer testimony in both arenas. For more information concerning Life Care Planning please visit the IALCP section of IARP.

Qualifications to testify in court as an expert in the field of vocational rehabilitation are fairly strict and related to State certification and licensure. Typically, a graduate degree in counseling or psychology plus certification/licensure will suffice. Ultimately, the Rules of Evidence in the jurisdiction presiding over the civil case prevail. Most Rules of Evidence relating to the qualifications of an expert witness are based on the Federal Rules of Evidence; Rule 702, which state:

If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise.

The IARP Forensic Section offers rehabilitation professionals access to numerous tools that may be utilized to assist the courts in determining the impact of disability upon an individual and/or their surviving family members. Some main areas of focus for the forensic rehabilitation specialist include:

(1) Understanding the differences between litigation that falls within state or federal venues.

(2) Understanding of court procedures, rules governing the court, roles of the various parties involved within a deposition or court trial.

(3) Specific terminology relating to challenges or procedures of the court, standards applicable to the rehabilitation practitioner as a fact witness, testifying expert witness, or a consultant to attorney(s) and/or the court.

(4) Knowledge of court procedures, including the implications of various legal precedents that impact on the qualifying of the rehabilitation professional as an expert in their discipline, admissibility of evidence and expert opinion.

(5) Related areas of issue or concern for the courts in utilizing expert witnesses in general.

(6) Knowledge of and ability to search and secure appropriate reference materials located within specialized databases for the specific type of litigation, court venue, and needs of differing case characteristics.

(7) Knowledge of the strengths and limitations of various methodologies (i.e., transferable skills analysis, job placement, etc.), databases and references typically utilized by rehabilitation experts and consultants, such as the D.O.T., O*NET, labor market statistics, salary and wage surveys, labor market forecasts, and how they relate to current requirements for admission of opinion and how they can be attacked by opposing counsel, etc.