In a personal injury case, the defense has the right to ask for you to submit to a physical medical exam. The Court will allow it if the defense shows that there is good cause for it. The exams are not for your medical treatment. The whole point of the exam is to rebut your expert medical testimony.
The basics of a defense medical exam
The insurance company picks a doctor and pays for the exam and opinions. They usually hire the same doctors. The doctors often make a fortune, and make the same findings in nearly every case. They are far from independent or neutral. Yet for many years insurance companies tried to call them “independent medical exams” or (IMEs). Recently, they started calling them “additional medical exams” (AMEs). But these word games cannot hide the fact that they are “defense medical exams” or (DMEs). The nature of a DME creates the opportunity for abuse.
Limitations and safeguards
There are a number of things your personal injury lawyer can do to protect your rights. Two of those things are recording the exam and having a friend or relative go to the exam with you.
Recording the exam ensures that the things that end up in the DME report actually happened. It allows everyone to see whether the doctor performed the right tests for your injuries and how you responded to the tests. In short, it helps hold the doctor accountable. It also keeps the exam from turning into an attempt for the insurance company to use the doctor to take your deposition without your personal injury lawyer present.
Think about having someone go to the exam with you. When a DME involves sensitive issues, this person can support you. Later, if there is a disagreement about what happened during the exam, they can testify about it.
Your personal injury lawyer should try and work with the defense lawyer to put reasonable limits and safeguards in place. If the insurance company refuses, then your lawyer may need to ask the Court to look at the issues and enter an order before you submit to the exam.
This article is limited. There are a number of other things for you and your personal injury lawyer to think about before agreeing to a DME. At the start, your lawyer should consider whether the insurance company even has good cause for the exam. If not, maybe your lawyer should ask for a protective order. But if there is good cause, they need to consider limiting the scope of the exam, where the exam is going to take place, costs related to the exam, and the timing of it within the lawsuit as a whole.