Courts permit independent medical examinations of plaintiffs in certain lawsuits. An independent medical examination, or IME, is a tool for the defense to use against a plaintiff to determine if the plaintiff has reached a full recovery or reached a medical result for treatment. Attorneys defending insurance companies commonly use IMEs to show that the plaintiff’s injuries have healed, or the plaintiff is not limited or permanently disabled in any way.
The defense cannot simply order you to go to a doctor you did not choose. The defense must ask the court hearing the case for permission to send a plaintiff to an IME. Generally speaking, however, the defense is entitled to ask the court to allow an IME if the plaintiff claims physical injuries caused by the defendant. The court can order the plaintiff to attend an IME if the defendant shows there is “good cause” to send the plaintiff for the IME. The judge will not allow an IME unless the defendant shows why good cause exists for an IME. The IME can be a physical examination or a mental health examination. The plaintiff’s medical condition must be an issue in the trial before a judge orders an IME. The defense must give the plaintiff notice of when and where to appear. Also, the examination is not without strict boundaries. The IME’s limitations must be specifically spelled out, meaning the doctor cannot examine the plaintiff for anything and everything. The examination must be related to the injuries that are an issue in the case.
The defendant cannot show good cause simply because a plaintiff sues a defendant for damages stemming from injuries caused by the defendant. The defense must prove to the judge that there is no alternative but to have an IME. That means the defense has to look through all of the medical records produced in the case as well as all of the other sources of information at their disposal. Other sources of information include interrogatories or written questions, and depositions, especially depositions of medical experts.
The IME is limited to the order made by the judge. The time, place, identity of the qualified medical professional who will perform the examination as well as the scope of the examination. The defense is not allowed to select any physician it wants to perform the examination. These requirements make certain that the IME is conducted fairly, without stacking the deck for the defense. The plaintiff should object to the doctor nominated by the defense if the doctor is known to be defendant-friendly or otherwise impartial in some respect. The whole idea is to have an “independent” physician examine the plaintiff. It is often best that the parties agree on the doctor performing the exam. That way the plaintiff can feel comfortable knowing that she had a say in the process. The judge will appoint a doctor if neither party can agree on a physician. The plaintiff can feel comfortable in this situation as well because the physician will have no bias toward either side.
An IME can benefit the plaintiff. If the doctor who performed the IME writes a favorable report about the plaintiff’s condition, then the plaintiff can use that report in court to help prove her case. In reality, if the results of the IME favor the plaintiff, the defendant will look to settle the case.
Gidden Law Firm, P.A.: Helping The Injured Through Their Toughest Times
The experienced Mississippi Personal Injury Lawyers at the Gidden Law Firm, P.A. will be by your side every step of the way. Do not trust your future to any other firm. Call Gidden Law Firm, P.A. today at 601-355-2022 to schedule your free consultation.