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Independent Medical Evaluations

In most workers' compensation cases and in some personal injury cases, injured plaintiffs will undergo independent medical evaluations to determine various issues, including the extent of the injuries, the cause of the injuries, and what kind of medical care is needed. If you have a workers' compensation or personal injury case and are asked to undergo a medical evaluation, here are some things you should know.

If the medical evaluation is arranged by the defense, there's nothing independent about it. They may still call it an "independent medical evaluation", but the purpose of the exam is for the doctor to harm your case. Personal injury lawyers who represent plaintiffs only, like our firm, call these exams "defense medical exams" because we know that the word "independent" could not be further from the truth. The defense has a right to send an injured party to one of these exams, so they usually cannot be stopped. But if you have to undergo one of these exams, make sure to heed your lawyers advice and be careful what you say during the exam.

Another thing to keep in mind that an independent medical exam is not medical care. The purpose of the exam is not for the doctor to heal or help the injured person; the doctor cannot prescribe you medicine and cannot offer any therapeutic procedures. The purpose is to evaluate. After the examination, the doctor will most often prepare a report to give to the lawyer who hired him or her that answers the lawyer's questions on the topics I mentioned above. The lawyer will then use the report in support of his or her arguments.

The medical exam is paid for by the lawyer requesting it. If the injured person's lawyer requested it, he or she will have to pay for it and it becomes an expense in the case. Because medical exams are expensive, plaintiff's personal injury lawyers need to be very careful in deciding whether the exam is necessary so that the expenses don't get too high and erode the client's net recovery. On the flip side, however, cost is not much of a concern for defense lawyers because the defendant's insurance company is paying the lawyer's costs. This is why you more often see medical exams for the defense side rather than the plaintiff's side.

There are many ins and outs to medical exams. If you have any questions about these exams, feel free to contact us at any time.

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