Recognizing the role of defense medical exams in personal injury cases and knowing what to expect from them may help injury victims protect their cases. People generally seek care from medical professionals of their choosing after suffering injuries in an accident. If they take legal action to recover compensation for their losses, however, the defense may request medical evidence from another source.

Understanding the Purpose of a Defense Medical Exam

Defense medical exams (DMEs) may involve physical or mental examinations by a health care professional that is chosen by the defentant’s lawyer. Although DMEs are sometimes referred to as independent medical exams, the defense pays the examiners’ fees. Thus, the results of these exams may carry biases. If the case goes to trial, the doctor performing the examination will often testify on behalf of the defendant.

Nailing Down the Scope of the Exam

The defense must provide adequate notice when making requests for people injured in accidents to submit to defense medical exams. Such requests must indicate the time, place, and conditions for the exam. The defense must also inform injury victims of the scope of the examination, specifically listing each test that will be conducted. If the defense fails to give appropriate notice or if the scope of the examination as indicated extends beyond the involved areas of the body, the legal representatives for those injured may serve written objections.

Preparing for a Defense Medical Exam

Going over things before the exam may help people avoid unintentionally harming their injury claims. In addition to talking to their personal injury lawyer about what to expect, plaintiffs may find it helpful to make lists of the symptoms, lifestyle changes, and other effects experienced due to their injuries; their diagnoses and the treatments they have received; and any previous or subsequent injuries to the involved area.

Attending a Defense Medical Exam

Injury victims should give full and accurate descriptions of their medical histories and injuries. They should refrain from taking any medications before the exam that may affect their assessments. The examiner will likely watch closely throughout the exam, looking for evidence to support the defense rather than providing medical advice to the injury victims.