OVERVIEW OF INSTRUCTIONS FOR DEFENSE MEDICAL EXAMINATION A.K.A INDEPENDENT MEDICAL EXAMINATION
This type of Medical Examination is scheduled at the request of the insurance carrier which they have the right to do under Court rules. This physician may be called to testify for the insurance company at your trial. The examination findings will be admissible into evidence, as well as any relevant statements you make, e.g., how you were injured or the nature and extent of your condition.
There are so dos’s and don’t’s that will apply to your conduct at the time of this appointment.
The following is what you should do.
- Arrive on time and be patient if you have to wait.
- Be honest when answering questions and when describing your physical condition and complaints.
- Look at any documents the doctor’s staff gives you. Do not sign any documents or complete any form which have not first been reviewed with your attorney.
- Speak directly. Do not volunteer information, as this physician has been hired by the insurance company and his or her statements in the medical report written from the exam is intended to be used against you. Simply answer the physician’s questions as directly as you can.
- Be courteous. Doctors are human; if you become angry or argumentative, the doctor’s opinion will be influenced adversely to your case.
- Make a mental note as to how long the examination took.
The following is a list of things you should not do. DO NOT:
- Become angry or argumentative during the examination;
- Refuse to answer questions regarding the nature and extent of your injuries, whether or not you’ve worked, and the types of activities you are currently engaged in. The doctor is prohibited from asking you questions about who was at fault in causing your injury. If any such questions are improperly asked, you should simply indicate that your attorney would have to answer these questions;
- State that every maneuver performed by the doctor causes pain. Doctors sometimes perform physical testing for the specific purposes of determining if your responses are exaggerated or inconsistent with your injury. Try to be as accurate as possible when responding to the doctor’s questions as to whether you experience pain during testing maneuvers;
- Volunteer information;
- Engage the physician in idle conversation-often times, such idle conversation finds its way into the physician’s report;
- Question the doctor’s credentials or credibility-that is the job of the lawyer at the time of trial;
- Use medical or legal terms while conversing with the doctor. This will definitely leave a bad impression with the jury at the time of trial; and,
- Guess or estimate when asked questions by the physician. If you do, you may well say something that is inconsistent with your prior testimony, statements and/or medical record. If you do not know the answer to a question, it is perfectly fine to say you do not know.
It is the insurance carrier’s right to compel such an examination and to use it as it deems appropriate. If you follow the above guidelines, you will have fully afforded the insurance carrier their right while preserving and protecting your right to challenge the physician’s opinions at trial.
Stuart A. Carpey, who has been practicing as an attorney since 1987, focuses his practice on complex civil litigation which includes representing injured individuals in a vast array of personal injury cases.