Independent Medical Exams in Irvine Personal Injury Cases

Under California law, when you claim to suffer any medical injury or illness, the Defendant in your Irvine personal injury case has the right to ask for an independent medical examination. It would be assumed that an independent medical examiner would be appointed by the court or a neutral party. However, the independent examination will be performed by a medical professional of the Defendant’s choosing.

This can be nerve-wracking, as the impact of an independent medical exam in an Irvine personal injury case can greatly determine how much compensation you receive. A qualified Irvine personal injury lawyer, however, can help prepare you for this important case.

Choosing an Examiner

It is the Defendant, not the Plaintiff or the court, that appoints the independent medical examiner. The examiner will practice in the same field of medicine in which the patient is being treated. If they are being treated by an orthopedic surgeon, their independent medical examiner will be an orthopedic surgeon as well. If they are being treated by different kinds of medical practitioners, they will have an independent medical examiner in each of the corresponding fields.

There are two other major caveats in choosing an independent medical examiner in an Irvine personal injury case:

  • The examination may not include any diagnostic test or procedure that is painful, protracted, or intrusive
  • The examination is expected to take place within 75 miles of the Plaintiff’s residence, and a person will be reimbursed for the cost of travel

What to Expect in an Exam

Working with an astute, experienced, capable attorney is especially useful when someone is facing an independent medical exam. There are many facets of the exam for which their lawyer may prepare them. Some of the things their independent medical examiner will observe when they meet:

  • General appearance. The independent medical examiner will observe the individuals gait, demeanor, dress and overall physical appearance– any outward indicator of an injury or of malingering
  • Signs of deception. For example, if the patient is limping one moment, and then suddenly walking or running normally at a later point. The IME will look for any signs the patient is lying about or exaggerating their illness, intentionally or unintentionally
  • Objective signs of the injury. The IME will observe test results including blood work, MRI’s and others to see if they align with treating doctor’s findings and the patient’s injury claims
  • Subjective signs of injury. The IME will also listen to the patient’s descriptions of symptoms and pain and will perform tests for impeded strength, mobility, flexibility etc., for example, if the patient is claiming a shoulder injury, how well are they able to lift their arm before experiencing too much pain?
  • Other contributing factors. The IME will also ask about other exposures or aspects of the patient’s lifestyle that may have contributed to or caused the injury

After observing, the IME will create and submit a report for the Defense. This is when an Irvine personal injury lawyer will likely remind their client that the report is commissioned by the Defendant and will probably not be impartial. IME doctors often skew their reports in favor of the ones paying them.

Contacting an Injury Attorney

When you are injured through the fault of another, do not be surprised if you are expected to participate in an independent medical examination. Your lawyers understand the impact of an independent medical exam in an Irvine personal injury case, and are prepared to help you through this, and all aspects of the legal matter.