Personal Injury 101: "Independent" Medical Exam

Personal Injury 101 is back and this time, we're spotlighting something that can make or break a lawsuit: the "independent" medical exam.

An "independent" medical exam is typically ordered by the person at fault or by an insurance company.  It is a way of verifying the extent and severity of injuries claimed by a victim. There is a good reason we've put "independent" in quotes. Although the insurance companies and defense attorneys would like you to believe that the doctor they hire to perform an examination is "independent," they are getting a paycheck from the insurance company to arrive at conclusions regarding someone who is making a claim against the insurance company.

That means that if the doctor wants the insurance company to keep hiring him or her to conduct these examinations, the report will be something the insurance company likes to see, i.e., something that minimizes the injuries. Thus, we don't believe "independent" medical examinations are independent at all.

Let's say you were in a serious car accident. You went to the doctor of your choosing, so the insurance companies think that doctor has a bias in your favor.  

In response, the person or people being sued for damages associated with your injuries may want an independent medical exam done by another doctor. This physician will give their expert opinion on whether or not the injuries are as severe as the victim claims or if the injuries are attributable to something other than the accident.

In some cases, you may not be required to submit to the exam. This could be because of factors that amount to undue burden (such as traveling a long distance for the exam). Under most circumstances, though, a victim MUST submit to this examination because they are putting their injuries at issue, and so the other side has a right to investigate the extent and cause of those injuries.

To sum things up, if you are injured in some sort of accident and are seeking compensation for your injuries, expect the other side to want to balance out the opinion of your doctor with one they've hired. 

Got questions?  We've got the answers?  Contact Pickard Parry Pfau for a complimentary evaluation of your case.