In a personal injury case, the defense lawyers may demand that the plaintiff attend a defense medical examination (DME) during litigation, wherein a doctor will perform a series of tests and subsequently make a report giving the doctor’s opinions about the plaintiff’s injuries and medical condition (pursuant to Code of Civ. Pro. § 2032.220). A DME is performed in most injury cases. DME’s are used by the defense to attempt to dispute whether a plaintiff was injured, may attempt to show that something other than the subject incident was the cause of the injury or attempt to minimize plaintiff’s injuries. Although a DME is supposedly objective and unbiased, it never is. Insurance companies and other defendants have lists of doctors they work with who will undoubtedly be be biased. This is one reason why it’s so important to speak with an experienced Marin County personal injury attorney, who will help you prepare for your DME and send someone with you to the exam to look out for your rights.
Tips for Preparing For an Independent Medical Evaluation
Below are five tips for preparing for an independent medical evaluation.
1. Be Honest But Only Answer the Questions Asked
This is the most important tip for preparing for an independent medical evaluation. It can be tempting to embelish or even exaggerate about your symptoms, but it is in your best interest to always be objective and truthful about your symptoms. With that said, your only duty is to answer the questions asked of you, so don’t feel the need to give more detail than is required or to offer information that was not asked of you, even if you think that information would benefit your case. Your attorney will be able to help you determine which facts about your case will help you and which will hurt you. Furthermore, your chance to tell your side of the story will be during your deposition, and not in the defense medical exam.
2. Be Aware Of Your Actions As Soon As You Arrive on the Premises
Keep in mind that as soon as you step foot in the doctor’s office, doctors, staff, and video surveillance cameras will be observing you. That means if you walk into the building without a limp and start limping as soon as the doctor or nurse comes out to receive you, the doctor may know about this change in behavior and will alter his written opinion based on your actions. Thus, make sure you are honest and consistent with your actions at all times before, during, and after your evaluation.
3. Be Polite and Courteous Even If Others Are Not
The doctor administering your IME may not be the friendliest individual since he or she is hired by the defense and is concerned about the defendants, who hired him or her, and not you. Refrain from making any sarcastic remarks or engaging in combative behavior. Even if the doctor or staff is not treating you politely and courteously, make sure you maintain a polite and courteous demeanor when speaking with the doctor. Remember, how much you can recover from your case can be affected by the DME, so you don’t want to do anything to make the situation worse.
4. Make Sure You Have An Accurate History of What Happened
The doctor administering your DME already has a copy of your medical history, so make sure you review your files and have an accurate account of what happened and your medical history. Even if you make an honest mistake answering a question or have forgotten a detail about your injury, it may be interpreted as a lie or something you’re trying to hide in the doctor’s report.
5. Arrive Early
Make sure you arrive 15-30 minutes early for the exam. Being late can cause the doctor to make the report even worse and may even result in late fees or cancellation and rescheduling fees.
Most importantly, consult with an experienced personal injury attorney before going to your independent medical evaluation. The Marin County attorneys at Wakeford Gelini have helped numerous plaintiffs prepare for their defense medical examinations and can help you have a successful DME as well. Contact us online or at 415-578-3510 today to schedule your consultation.