What Is An Independent Medical Examination?
When you are injured, your doctors will be ready to give testimony about your injuries, your recovery, and what kind of medical treatment you may need going forward into the future. But your doctors aren’t the only ones who will testify. The insurance company representing the defendant, or the defendant itself, will also have their own doctors.
The Defendant’s Doctor
Your doctors know you and treat you, so of course they can testify as to your injuries knowledgeably. But how does the defendant do that?
Easy—they send you to what is known as an independent medical examination (IME). Although the word “independent” is there, this is not an independent examination at all. It is a one-time examination by a doctor hired by the defendant to say that you are not injured, or to refute whatever claim of injury you say that you have. That means it’s more of a “Defense Medical Examination,” or “DME.”
This DME has some differences from your typical doctor’s visit. First, unlike your visit with your doctor, where your doctor sees you routinely, over a period of time, this doctor is only seeing you one time. That means he or she doesn’t have the perspective needed to really make an intelligent conclusion as to your injuries.
Additionally, you do not have any doctor-patient confidentiality with this doctor. In fact, the doctor will be writing a report to the other side, and possibly testifying in court, about everything you said to him or her, and about his or her findings from the evaluation.
By using this DME doctor, the defendant now has its own doctor with his or her own examinations and findings to testify against your treating doctors in court.
Bias in Examinations
The DME doctor is inherently biased. This isn’t a knock on DME doctors personally—it’s just about money.
Many of these doctors get hired by the same Defendant, or the same insurance company over and over again, in case after case. Of course, they are going to do whatever they can to minimize your injuries, as they make a lot of money doing that. The insurance company wouldn’t rehire a doctor who said that accident victims were severely injured.
These doctors aren’t just there to say you aren’t injured severely. They also try to provide testimony that whatever pain, suffering, injury or disability that you have is not caused by the accident, but rather, caused by something else (say, a prior injury or just age).
Recording Your Examination
You do have a right to videotape your DME. A good personal injury lawyer will take the steps needed to record your examination. While this may seem invasive, recording can ensure that the doctor doesn’t lie about what you said, what you did, or what he observed during your examination.
Your injury attorney should prepare you in advance of your visit, so that you know what to expect. Call the Knoxville personal injury attorneys at Fox, Farley, Willis & Burnette, can help you prepare for every stage of your personal injury case.