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Negligent Security Seminar | March 2015

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What is a Compulsory Medical Exam After a Car Accident?

If you have been injured in a car accident, the insurance company for the other party involved may require you to undergo a Compulsory Medical Examination (CME). Sometimes referred to as an Independent Medical Exam (IME), the purpose is to provide the party defending the claim with their own assessment of your injuries—ultimately, with the intention of finding information that could show that your injuries are not as severe as you’ve alleged, or that they were caused by a preexisting condition rather than the car accident. Keep in mind there is nothing “independent” about such an examination.

These examinations are performed generally by doctors hired by the insurance company or lawyers who represent them.  Most of the time the doctors they hired are used by them all the time.  They often have a full-time practice of performing these exams for the defense.  Some orthopedic surgeons who do this rarely if ever even perform surgery anymore.  They have become professional insurance examiners and testifiers for the defense.

Since the doctor performing the CME is working for the defense in your case, there are several steps you should take in order to safeguard your rights when undergoing the exam. For instance:

  • Speak with your attorney about the process. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to brief you on your rights and what to expect from a CME, including the procedural rules that govern the process in Florida. For example, Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.360 details the circumstances under which a compulsory examination may be requested, the requirements for recording it or having other parties attend, and other important rules you should know.
  • Assume that the doctor is a witness for the defense. No matter how nice or sympathetic the examining doctor may seem, remember that they are serving as hired experts for the defense, and their sole purpose is to provide information that can assist the defense with their case against you. Therefore, while it’s important to be respectful and cooperative, your discussion with the doctor should be limited to your injuries. Be careful to avoid volunteering information about the accident or anything else that the doctor does not specifically ask about.
  • Be candid about current and past injuries and conditions. When discussing your injuries with the examining doctor, you should neither downplay nor exaggerate them. In addition, be honest about any preexisting conditions you may have had. While the defense may try to claim that your new injuries were the result of preexisting conditions, the law still allows you to recover if your prior condition was worsened by the defendant’s negligence in the accident. If you clearly have a particular injury that the CME doctor cannot deny (and many will still claim there is no injury), they will often conclude that this injury existed before the accident in question and that you are trying to recover for an injury you already had.  Many of these defense doctors will also make conclusions about whether you are “malingering” or failing to give maximum effort in some of the examination, thus trying to “fake” your condition.

If you are facing a CME, the most important step you can take is to hire an experienced personal injury attorney. At Leighton Law, representing car accident victims is one of our specialties, and our team of experts will guide you through the process of preparing for and undergoing your exam. Call us today at 888.988.1774 to get started.

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