You’ve now reached the stage of your Personal Injury case where the defense attorney has decided to have you examined by a doctor. Although defense attorneys routinely refer to such exams as Independent Medical Exams, or IMEs, they are far from independent. On the contrary, the doctors involved in these exams are hired and paid by the defense and often derive a large amount of income from such exams which creates an inherent bias. Accordingly, I always refer to these exams as Defense Medical Exams, or DMEs, rather than Independent Medical Exams.
The following are five things to consider with regard to your exam:
- The Doctor is Not Independent. The doctor you will be examined by has been hired by and will be paid by the defense attorney. Often, these doctors derive a significant percentage of their income from such exams which creates a bias. Accordingly, the doctors have a financial incentive to produce favorable reports on behalf of the defense. You need to keep this in mind while preparing for and attending the exam. Simply stated, you cannot rely on the doctor you are being examined by to have your best interests at heart.
- Preparing For The Exam. You do need to prepare for the exam. I recommend that my clients review their medical diagnoses, medical treatment and all relevant medical records, if available, prior to the exam. In addition, you should think about the symptoms you have suffered over time and the restrictions on your activities. You should be prepared to talk with the doctor about the mechanics of the accident, your medical treatment, your symptoms, your restrictions, and any prior or subsequent accidents or injuries to the parts of your body affected by the accident in question. If you have any questions or concerns about what needs to be done to prepare for the exam, please do not hesitate to call me or schedule an appointment.
- The Format of the Exam. Most Defense Medical Exams start out with an interview of the client by the doctor with regard to the mechanics of the accident, treatment, symptoms, restrictions and prior and subsequent accidents or injuries. Then, the doctor will perform a medical exam of the parts of your body involved in the accident. The doctor may or may not have reviewed your medical records and/or diagnostic films ahead of time to prepare for the exam.
- Your Role During the Exam. Your job during the exam is to be open and honest and to provide as much information as possible so that the defense doctor can fairly evaluate your injuries. We would like you to have detailed knowledge with regard to your medical treatment, symptoms and restrictions. In addition, you should be careful not to hide any prior or subsequent injuries from the defense medical doctor since they will likely be revealed in your medical records. Please be detailed in your descriptions about how the accident has affected your life, but please do not exaggerate or fabricate symptoms or restrictions. Beware that, at any time, the defense may conduct private investigator surveillance, including video surveillance, of you to attempt to catch you doing activities which you have stated that you cannot do.
During the exam, please be honest with the doctor with regard to any pain which you are feeling. Be descriptive but do not exaggerate. Again, these defense doctors can perform certain tests to attempt to determine whether or not their subjects are exaggerating or fabricating symptoms.
- Our Protection of You. Through this document, as well as through discussions with me, you should be prepared when you go into your Defense Medical Exam. In addition, it is our practice to send along with you one of our paralegals in order to document what occurred during the exam and to be available to testify as a witness about what occurred in the event that there is some dispute between you and the doctor about what happened during the exam. I will not attend the exam personally since, as your attorney, I cannot act as a witness in your case.