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The myth of the "independent medical examiner"

If you are a Plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, you will almost certainly be forced to submit to an “independent” medical examination or IME for short.  What you should understand is that the medical examination is most certainly not independent

An Independent Medical Examination

A plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit is alleging that an incident caused him/her bodily injury.  The plaintiff can establish the injury through personal testimony, expert medical testimony and/or medical records.  However, the defendant in such cases gets an opportunity to have the plaintiff and his/her alleged injuries examined by a doctor of the Defendant’s choosing, giving rise to the “independent medical examination.” 

One can quickly surmise the “independence” of a medical exam paid for by the Defendant; it is akin to the medical studies paid for by the tobacco companies that came to the shocking conclusion that there was no direct correlation between cigarettes and cancer.  Generally, these medical examinations take fifteen minutes or less and usually do not include important testing such as MRIs, X-rays or bloodwork.  Further, insurance companies and defense firms frequently hire the same medical doctors to perform thousands of these exams for them.  It is highly doubtful that a doctor would see any repeat business if he/she concluded that plaintiffs had serious injuries.  Further, it is impossible that these medical doctors don’t understand this concept.

Many courts have come to the conclusion that these medical examinations are not independent and require that attorneys and witnesses refer to these medical examinations as “defense medical examinations” or “compulsory medical examinations.”  At trial, it is imperative that the plaintiff’s attorney establish with the examination attorney how much he/she was paid for the examination, how often he/she performs them for Defendants, the percentage of his/her practice and income is from these examinations, the length of the examination and the substance of the examination.  An effective cross examination of the medical examination doctor is essential for a favorable result.

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Having worked for the insurance companies, the attorneys at Ely & Reed are well versed in insurance companies' "independent" medical exams and the reports the doctors produce.  To discuss the insurance company's medical exam for your case, please contact us

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