Given that a doctor who performs independent medical exams (IMEs) on injured people for an insurance company can make a quick $600-$1000 just to examine someone and write a report, many personal injury attorneys feel that the exams are anything but "independent." They usually feel like doctors who make their entire living doing IMEs are hired guns. If you're sent to one of these doctors, is there anything your attorney can do to help? Absolutely.
Your attorney may assign someone to go with you.
Some attorneys will have you take your spouse or a close friend with you to an independent medical exam. The presence of another person gives you a witness that you can call on in court if the IME's memory of events doesn't quite match up with yours. In addition, the presence of another person can encourage the doctor to do a complete exam, rather than a cursory inspection.
Other attorneys may actually assign someone from their office to go with you to the exam. It may be a paralegal or a nurse that the attorney has on staff just for this situation. He or she won't answer questions for you and won't interfere in the exam, but he or she can take notes about what the doctor asks you, what you say in return, and how the exam was conducted.
Your attorney may request video.
It is becoming increasingly common for an attorney to request that he or she be allowed to videotape the IME. While not all states have addressed the issue, the law has generally sided with the injured person on this issue. As far back as 2007, for example, Oklahoma's Supreme Court declared that any party to a lawsuit who is required to undergo a medical examination has the right to videotape it.
Videotape can prove useful in court if the IME doesn't provide accurate testimony. For example, one Michigan attorney was able to use video to disprove numerous statements made by one IME during her testimony against an injured truck driver.
Your attorney can also request the IME's records.
Another tool that your attorney has at his or her disposal is a subpoena. If your attorney either suspects or knows that the doctor chosen for your case makes his or her living performing IMEs and testifying (for additional payment) on behalf of the defense, a subpoena can be used to obtain information that will hopefully demonstrate his or her bias to the jury.
For example, a subpoena can be used to determine exactly how many IMEs he or she performs in a year and how many times he or she has testified for the defense. Many doctors would rather not disclose that kind of information, so a well-timed subpoena could get your case assigned to a new doctor.
If you're worried about the impartiality of the IME assigned to your case–don't be. Talk to your attorney ahead of time about what you can do to prepare and the steps you can take to minimize any problems. For more information, contact an experienced attorney from a firm like Boucher Law Firm.
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