First, you are hurt by a careless person – either a negligent driver, a property owner who fails to maintain his property, or a careless doctor. Then, you are forced to miss work to seek treatment and try to recover from your injuries.
You may miss out on things – time with your family, a special hunting trip, or a vacation. You may no longer be able to perform simple, everyday tasks because of your pain and limitations. Perhaps you tried to resolve your claim with the insurance adjuster with the hope that this all wouldn’t drag out to a lawsuit, but because the adjuster was unreasonable, you and your attorney were forced to file suit. You have answered written questions. You have sat for a deposition in front of a court reporter.
Now, your attorney tells you that you have to be evaluated by a doctor you have never heard of, and what’s worse, it is a doctor selected by the defense. What in the world is going on?
It’s called an “Independent Medical Examination”. Remember, the defense wants to show the jury that you either aren’t hurt at all or aren’t hurt as badly as you claim to be. To do so, the defense will hire a doctor to say just that.
The physician selected is supposed to conduct a fair, unbiased evaluation of your medical condition.
The fact is, most of the time, these examinations aren’t “independent” at all. In fact, our office refuses to call them that – we call them “Defense Medical Examinations”. While sometimes the court will block these examinations, more often than not, the defense is allowed to proceed. The defense attorney will typically select a physician to evaluate you and they will pay this doctor for a report. While there are some honest and fair doctors out there who perform these examinations, you can imagine that what ends up happening most of the time is that the doctors tend to support the party who is paying them.
We all have heard the phrase: Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
If you are forced to undergo one of these Defense Medical Examinations, your attorney will tell you what to expect. You should be prepared to be completely honest in your examination. You should also be sure to be complete – don’t leave out body parts that are hurting, but also don’t leave out portions of your prior medical history when asked. Often, your attorney may send a nurse with you to the examination so that he/she can document what happens during the examination (i.e., how long the doctor spends with you, your responses to questions, and the tests performed). If the doctor ends up siding with the defense and disagreeing with your treating physicians, try to not be frustrated. Most likely, your attorney has experience in dealing with this situation and will take the steps necessary to protect you at trial. If you have been hurt and need legal advice, call one of our qualified attorneys today at (217) 394-5885.