Multilingual Medico-Legal Interpreting Services for Workers’ Compensation Cases

Portuguese Interpreter Services for Workers’ Comp Cases

We’ve blogged about the poor outcomes for the patient and the medical services provides in situations where unqualified medical interpreters are used. On the other hand, services of qualified medical interpreters can save lives. Competent and professional medical and legal interpreting services also come in handy when two different versions of the same accident exist in workers’ compensation cases.

The case described below arises from a work-related accident which resulted in a personal injury action being filed by the Plaintiff. The name of the case is Mendonca v. PLAZA CONSTR. LLC, and it is from the Supreme Court in New York County, New York State.

The Plaintiff was working at a construction site in Yonkers, New York, at the time of the accident. He alleged that an unsecured metal concrete object fell from a height of eight feet and struck him on his back. Thereafter, he brought a lawsuit against the defendants, the owner of the construction site and the contractor for the construction project, alleging that the defendants had failed to properly secure the construction site.

After discovery, the plaintiff, a Portuguese language speaker, moved for Summary Judgment on the issue of liability which was denied. The basis of the plaintiff’s motion was that the accident had occurred when an unsecured object fell on him from above and, therefore, the accident was caused by the defendants’ failure to secure the construction site. The defendants, however, opposed the Plaintiff’s Motion by arguing that the accident occurred when the Plaintiff was injured while lifting, or carrying something heavy, and, therefore, they were not negligent. This became the basis of the court’s denial of the plaintiff’s Motion, namely the differing versions of how the accident had occurred. Upon denial, the Plaintiff made another motion to reargue the previously denied Motion arguing that the court had misapprehended some facts.

Portuguese Interpreter Services at IME

During the discovery phase the plaintiff went to a number of independent medical examinations and medical appointments conducted by the doctors hired by the defendant’s office. IME is the general procedure in personal injury cases, in which the Plaintiff is examined by the defendant’s medical doctors to verify his injuries. Oftentimes the examining doctors would hire a medical interpreter for the IME, in order to communicate with the limited-English-speaking Plaintiff. Accordingly, the IME doctor hired a Portuguese medical interpreter for the Plaintiff’s medical appointment. The Portuguese-speaking Plaintiff also appeared at several depositions where he testified through a Portuguese deposition interpreter about what had transpired at the medical appointments. Regarding his visit with one of the doctors, Dr. Glassman, the plaintiff testified that there was a Portuguese interpreter present every time he visited that doctor. Even more surprisingly, the plaintiff testified at his deposition that he had told Dr. Glassman a made-up version of the accident, through the Portuguese medical interpreter at the doctor’s office.

The Plaintiff also saw other doctors in relation to this accident, namely some doctors for a workers’ compensation claim which also arose from that accident. The plaintiff also testified that he told another doctor that the accident had occurred when he was carrying some heavy materials. That same version was also told to the workers’ compensation doctor through a Portuguese language interpreter. There were some other medical visits where the Plaintiff had provided a similar version of the accident, through a Portuguese interpreter.

Legal and Medical Translation Services Make a Difference in Workers’ Compensation Cases

Since the version of the accident provided to the doctors differed from the one the Plaintiff had used as a basis for his Summary Judgment Motion, the Court denied the Plaintiff’s Motion. The Court, accordingly, denied the Plaintiff’s Motion to Reargue as well. This case is still pending, and a final resolution has not yet been reached. However, this underscores the importance of professional legal and medical translation services. By having medical interpreters present at the medical appointments, the doctors can adequately communicate with the Plaintiff, and, therefore, obtain vital information. Without the version of the accident which had been provided to the doctors by the Plaintiff through a Portuguese interpreter, the Motion for Summary Judgment could have, arguably, been granted against the Defendant.

Get in touch with legal and medical interpreting services company All Language Alliance, Inc. to hire legal and medical translators and interpreters fluent in Tibetan, Portuguese, Amharic, Tagalog, Russian, Spanish, Romanian, Portuguese, Croatian, Farsi, Mongolian, Anuak, French, Somali, Oromo, Nepali, Arabic, Korean, Punjabi, Mandarin, Polish, Hungarian, Tigrinya, Thai, and other rare, hard-to-find and exotic foreign languages for Zoom video depositions, in-person depositions, IMEs, in-person arbitration, and arbitration via Zoom.

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