Insurance companies request depositions of the treating physician in most personal injury protection (PIP) cases. The medical treatment rendered and the reason for performing the medical services are the central issues for treating physician depositions. These depositions range from approximately thirty to ninety minutes.
Here’s the good news: under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.390, “an expert or skilled witness whose deposition is taken shall be allowed a witness fee.” To qualify as an “expert or skilled witness,” a treating physician need only be expected to discuss the treatment rendered to the patient and a medical explanation of why that treatment was medically necessary and ultimately performed. An expert or skilled witness has specialized education and training. That specialized education and training are the main reasons why a physician is involved in the PIP claim.
Many courts hold that a treating physician is entitled to an expert witness fee for their time testifying in a deposition. A reasonable fee is discretionary, in that it varies from court to court. A recent case awarded the treating physician $350 per hour for his time spent at his deposition. Comprehensive Health Center. Inc. v. United Auto. Ins. Co., 56 So. 3d 41 (Fla. 3D DCA 2011).
In United Automobile Insurance Company v. Professional Medical Group, Inc. a/a/o Geraldo Landaverde, United Automobile appealed the County Court’s Order granting Dr. Jose Vasquez a fee for his testimony at Deposition. Defendant United Automobile argued that Dr. Vasquez was a fact witness because he was the treating physician and would be testifying about his medical notes/services. United Automobile further argued that he was not entitled to an expert witness fee. The County Court directed United Automobile to pay $350 per hour to Dr. Vasquez as a witness fee.
Ultimately the Appellate court agreed with the County Court and held that because Dr. Vasquez is a medical specialist, he was brought into this case to render medical treatment. Moreover, the Court stated that Dr. Vasquez would likewise testify about the medical necessity of the treatment and the overall specialized nature of his treatment. The Appellate Court indicated that the fee of $350 was reasonable.
It is imperative to contact an experienced PIP Litigation attorney if you file a PIP Suit. Expert Witness fees should be awarded for your time. As a highly specialized medical provider, the insurance company should pay your hourly fee in return for your testimony. We here at LaBovick Law Group will fight for your rights with zealous advocacy.