In Pennsylvania, defendants, and the insurance companies who represent them, have the right to have an injured claimant examined by an “independent” doctor so that the doctor can render an opinion as to the physical condition of the claimant and the relation of the injury to the accident. The problem is that these doctors are hired by the insurance companies, so they are anything but independent.
Boilerplate reports, where the doctor uses the same report for each person he or she examines, seeing numerous people in the same day, all without being required to adhere to the doctor-patient privilege, leads to questionable methods of obtaining an “independent expert” opinion. This has been thoroughly looked at in a recent New York Times article about these types of practices taking place in the New York workers compensation system.
The best way for an injured person making a personal injury claim to prepare for these types of exams is to know what to expect. I’ve written on this subject before. I also make sure my clients are not alone when they attend these exams. That way, an unbiased witness can not only record how the exam was conducted, but can also record what the defense physician asked and said at the exam. If it is different from what’s in his report for the insurance company, the doctor can be easily cross examined at trial and be forced to explain the discrepancy.