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Insurance Companies Use Junk Science Against Injury Victims | Daytona Injury Lawyer

Lawyers Not Trained to Spot Junk Science Commonly Used by Insurance Companies to Destroy Your Injury Claim

Defense attorneys, insurance companies and the doctors who support them have been bending the truth for some time now with the help of the medical journal Spine. For the last 8-10 years, Spine has been publishing anti-patient, pro-insurance company articles based on junk science on a surprisingly frequent basis.

One example is this paper that defense attorneys frequently use to fight valid injury claims despite that 99 percent of medical literature is contrary to the findings of this study: Does Minor Trauma Cause Serious Low Back Illness? by Eugene Carragee, MD, et al.

The author, Carragee is well-known for this type of paper which he published not to further the pursuit of medical knowledge, but to provide insurance companies with ammunition to destroy your injury claim and avoid paying you.

However, the science used in this paper doesn’t hold water. Here’s why – the study used to few subjects to gain an accurate understanding of the truth. For example, if we want to know whether car crashes cause death, we need to study a large number of crashes to gain an accurate understanding of the issue.

The fatality rate in Florida and the U.S. is 1 death per 315 car accidents. If Carragee wanted to show that car wrecks do not cause death, he could pick 200 wrecks at random to study and would be unlikely to find one that caused death. He could therefore claim that car accidents do not cause death.

This type of junk science should not be allowed as evidence in court, but unfortunately too many lawyers have not received sufficient scientific training to be able to spot these bogus publications.

In the abovementioned article, Carragee studied only 200 men to evaluate if their minor trauma caused serious low back pain. Because he chose such a small sample, he did not capture an accurate picture of the situations in which serious low back pain was caused by minor trauma.

If he had taken a truly representative sample population of 2000 men, then it would have been clear to him that minor trauma does cause serious low back pain. Using too few subjects in a study is a tricky way to fail to show a real causal correlation if this is your goal. There is a name in science for this error – it’s called a Type II error – the failure to see a real difference between study groups because your study itself was flawed.

This Carragee paper is used most often by insurance company defense experts to claim that a “trivial” event like a car crash (the same kind of “trivial” event that killed 38,000 people last year) can’t cause a permanent spine injury. Such intellectual dishonesty is unfortunately common these days among defense experts.

In addition to using junk science to generate the article, defense experts use it out of context. Once it was used in an attempt to prove that a car wreck could not have caused a neck injury in a woman with a prior fusion because the crash speed was too slow. However, this study is completely inappropriate for that purpose. This study followed men not women; it followed men with no spinal fusions not women with spinal fusions; it followed men with low back pain, not women with neck pain. This paper had nothing to do with the situation the defense attempted to use it for. That didn’t stop the defense from trying though.

Unfortunately, these types of papers still get published even in peer reviewed journals because they are sent to hand-picked peers who are friends of the author and share the author’s opinion that lawsuits are all frivolous and are sent to journals that also share that view.

It is your attorney’s job to spot this junk science and ensure it stays out of the courtroom.

For more on medical safety issues, see the library of articles by Daytona Beach personal injury attorney.


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