Odds are that if you file a personal injury claim in Florida at some point in the process the insurance companys lawyer is going to require you to get examined by the insurance companys doctors. For years this used to be called an “independent medical exam.” Independent – my foot. Now, the courts have agreed that there is nothing independent about the process and it is called a “compulsory or defense medical exam.” It should be called what it is because the injured person is being compelled to the exam by the court.
It is not really the insurance company that is requesting the exam; it is the defendant in this lawsuit; even though we know the insurance company is driving the train. Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.360 says:
A party may request any other party to submit to, or to produce a person in that other partys custody or legal control for, examination by a qualified expert when the condition that is the subject of the requested examination is in controversy.
(A) When the physical condition of a party or other person under subdivision (a)(1) is in controversy, the request may be served on the plaintiff without leave of court after commencement of the action, and on any other person with or after service of the process and initial pleading on that party. The request shall specify a reasonable time, place, manner, conditions, and scope of the examination and the person or persons by whom the examination is to be made.
The insurance doctor is not your friend
He/she is a known quantity – the insurance company has a short list of doctors that it allows the insurance defense lawyer to use
There is a cottage industry of these doctors
Many of these doctors make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year doing this work
There is inherent bias in these exams because it is the insurance company that is buttering the doctors bread
Many of these doctors are in trial more often than lawyers
In my view, the sole purpose of the defense medical exam is to limit and/or refute the clients injuries. Typically, these doctors will go before the court and testify that the client wasnt injured, that the injury should have cleared up, and/or that the client doesnt have a permanent injury. These doctors understand that if the jury believes that the client doesnt have a permanent injury then it cannot, under the law, award the client any pain and suffering damages. Thats right – “no permanent injury” – zero for your pain and suffering!
There are a number of ways to deal with these doctors. First, we show their financial bias. Second, we show that their testimony is consistent across the board in the cases in which they have been retained by an insurance company. Third, depending on the clients injury and treatment, we challenge some of their opinions.
Dealing with the defense medical examiner is an art and skill that is important to the clients case. These doctors should not be taken lightly because they are skilled and make a lot of money at their craft.
If you have any questions about what goes on in a Florida personal injury claim, you can call me directly on my cell.