What Is An Independent Medical Examination in a Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Why Am I Being Sent to Some Doctor That I Did Not Choose?

An independent medical examination (IME), or compulsory medical examinations, as they are sometimes known, are fairly common in virtually all types of personal injury cases in Florida.  Regardless of what type of injuries you have suffered as a result of another party’s negligence or in what context (i.e. motor vehicle accident, slip and fill incident, etc.), parties to personal injury lawsuits in Florida have the ability to request that an opposing party undergo an examination by a physician or other healthcare professional of the requesting party’s choosing.  The rationale behind this rule is that it lets the defendant and its counsel have an “objective” view as to the level of injury that the injured party has truly suffered and what the future prognosis for the injured party is in terms of both future medical care and functional outcome.  Thus, it is intended to let the defense obtain what is supposed to be a realistic, truly independent picture of your situation.

Despite good intentions on the part of the drafters of Florida’s Rules of Civil Procedure (the rules that govern civil lawsuits like a personal injury lawsuit), IMEs have become simply a means for the defense to try to show the jury that an injured person’s injuries are not nearly as serious as the injured person claims.  What defense lawyers and insurance companies often will do in personal injury cases is require you to go to a doctor of their choosing who they use all the time who will perform tests of their choosing, all in an effort to minimize your injuries or make it look as if you are feigning injuries or symptoms much more serious than you actually suffered.  However, this often can backfire in ways the defense lawyers do not necessarily foresee given that the injured party also has rights in connection with these examinations.  An experienced Florida personal injury attorney will take advantage of these traps for the unwary defense lawyer by using the IME itself against the defense to show that your injuries really are as serious as you claim they are by

  • demonstrating the bias of the “independent” physician that is performing the IME and
  • showing the jury what a sham the “independent” medical evaluation really was.

What Are The Rules Relating to Independent Medical Examinations in Florida?

Defense lawyers have a right under Florida law to have a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit undergo an IME.  The defense selects the doctor that will perform the IME and requests that the injured party make him or herself available for a series of specified tests.  The injured party and his or her attorney have the ability to object to the specific tests that are being requested or to require that the examining physician complete a report detailing his or her findings after having performed an IME.  Key to this process is also that the injured party’s attorney has the right to have a witness attend the IME or even to videotape the IME as it takes place and to show the jury at trial that video.

Our Approach When The Other Side Requests and Takes an IME of Our Client

Defense lawyers can be fairly predictable when it comes to the performance of IMEs.  They often have specific doctors they send all personal injury claimants to for the IME’s of the plaintiffs in personal injury cases in which they are defending.  These doctors may spend more time performing these types of examinations at the request of defense lawyers and insurance companies than they do actually treating patients. Such doctors are thus dependent on the insurance companies and defense firms for their income.  Such doctors have every incentive to gain future business from the same referring insurance companies or defense law firms. Therefore, the Independent Medical Examination doctors are financially incentivized to make your injuries appear less serious than they actually are so that the jury awards you less money.

At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, our experienced Florida personal injury attorneys can make the bias of such an “independent” physician immediately apparent and obvious in front of a jury.  If a physician performs an “independent”  examination of a personal injury plaintiff who has suffered serious back injuries and concludes that there is nothing wrong with that person, yet 50% of that physician’s time and 75% of his income comes from a particular defense lawyer of defense firm, then it will lead the jury to wonder whether it should actually trust that physician’s opinions. Often what we will see is that the physician hired by the insurance company spends minimal time performing tests that do not even measure what our client actually can and cannot do, but instead are designed to make it look like our client is not even injured or is faking an injury.

Seek the Assistance of An Experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured in a Florida car accident or any type of Florida personal injury scenario, you should retain an experienced Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the incident in which you were injured to assist you in receiving maximum compensation for your injuries suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence.  At Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A., our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of combined legal practice representing victims of all types of motor vehicle accidents and other incidents involving personal injuries in Florida.  We have seen the types of games that defense lawyers try to play by sending you to a physician that is notorious for testifying that his or her Independent Medical Examination showed that an injured party either suffered minor injuries or was not injured at all for every IME that physician performs.  If you, a family member or a loved one has been injured in a Florida car accident or any other scenario, contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Schwed, Adams & McGinley, P.A today at 877-694-6079  or contact@schwedlawfirm.com for a free consultation.