Michigan City Indiana personal injury lawyer explains the compulsory medical exam process in an accident lawsuit.
Did you know that if you have to file a lawsuit for personal injuries, odds are the lawyer for the defendant is going to request that you be examined by a doctor of their choosing. This is called a compulsory or defense medical examination.
Say you were injured in a car accident and you had surgery because you injured a disc in your neck. The surgeon that you went to was an orthopedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon. At some point in time the insurance company lawyer will file a motion with the court or request that you see their doctor.
Indiana Trial Rule 35 sets forth the procedure for the exam:
Order for examination. When the mental or physical condition (including the blood group) of a party, or of a person in the custody or under the legal control of a party, is in controversy, the court in which the action is pending may order the party to submit to a physical or mental examination by a suitably licensed or certified examiner or to produce for examination the person in his custody or legal control. The order may be made only on motion for good cause shown and upon notice to the person to be examined and to all parties and shall specify the time, place, manner, conditions, and scope of the examination and the person or persons by whom it is to be made.
The doctor is supposed to be independent but he/she is not. The doctor is hired by the insurance company lawyer and most likely makes a lot of money doing these exams. The doctor will review your medical records and perform an exam. Even if the doctor is nice during the exam, don't be fooled. The sole purpose of the exam is to undercut your claim.
Most of the time, these doctors will take the position that the accident didn't cause the problem that you had – instead he will argue that your problem was an underlying problem, like arthritis. If the doctor doesn't take this position, he will take the position that you did receive an injury in the accident but it should have resolved within 8 to 12 weeks so you must be faking or exaggerating because you're in a lawsuit.
I can almost guarantee it that the insurance company doctor will not testify that you were injured in the accident, that all your treatment was related to the accident and you're still having problems. If this would be the case, the insurance company lawyer wouldn't have hired the doctor.
Don't worry. This is part of the process. Your attorney should be able to deal with the insurance company doctor. If you would like to learn more about car accident, click the link to receive a free copy of my book. I'm Guy DiMartino, meeting you at the intersection of law and medicine.
photo attribution: wikipedia.org/public domain