Leesburg Florida trial lawyer explains the exam performed by the insurance company's doctor.
Odds are that if you file a personal injury claim in Florida at some point in the process the insurance company's lawyer is going to require you to get examined by the insurance company's 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.
Why Does Insurance Company Get To Request An Exam?
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 party's 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 Things You Need To Know About These Compulsory Medical Exams
- 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 doctor's bread
- Many of these doctors are in trial more often than lawyers
Purpose of the Defense Medical Exam
In my view, the sole purpose of the defense medical exam is to limit and/or refute the client's injuries. Typically, these doctors will go before the court and testify that the client wasn't injured, that the injury should have cleared up, and/or that the client doesn't have a permanent injury. These doctors understand that if the jury believes that the client doesn't have a permanent injury then it cannot, under the law, award the client any pain and suffering damages. That's right – “no permanent injury” – zero for your pain and suffering!
How do we deal with these Insurance Defense Doctors?
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 client's 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 client's 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 at (352) 267-9168.