This is a medical exam conducted by a doctor who is paid by an insurance company.
Formerly known as an Independent Medical Examination (IME), this medical examination was renamed Compulsory Medical Exam (CME), because the term independent is misleading as there is nothing independent about it. CMEs arise in two auto-injury contexts:
Before the filing of a law suit, your own auto insurance company may require you to submit to a Compulsory Medical Examination, where you would be examined by a doctor that they pay. Your car-insurance company might require you to submit to a CME if they suspect that you (or your treating doctors) are exaggerating your injuries – or if they think they can get away with paying your treating doctors less money.
After the filing of a law suit, the defense has a right to compel you to see one of their doctors for each specialty that is currently treating you. For example, if you are seeing both an orthopedist and a neurologist, you may be expected to submit to both an orthopedic and a neurological CME (again, paid for by the defense to minimize the amount of money they will eventually have to pay).
Judge Meenu Sasser, a Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge, recently issued a trial order that I think very clearly explains and limits the concept of a compulsory medical examination. Among other things, the order says:
- The defense must refer to the exam as a compulsory medical exam or defense exam (not independent medical examination or an examining doctor).
- The defense attorney may not attend or video the CME. But the plaintiff’s attorney may attend and may bring a court reporter and videographer to the exam (keep that hired gun honest). The video and transcript remain the work product of the plaintiff’s attorney until they are listed as trial exhibits.
- The CME must start within 30 minutes of the scheduled start time, or plaintiff may leave. In this case the defense will be responsible for plaintiff’s associated costs.
- The plaintiff will not be required to fill out any forms or documents. But must provide identification (i.e. driver’s license).
- The doctor must find an examination room large enough to accommodate the patient, attorney, court reporter and videographer, without charging the plaintiff.
- The CME doctor may not comment on the reasonableness of the plaintiff’s medical bills.
- The CME doctor may not ask the plaintiff: how the accident occurred, who was at fault, who said what to who, what people did at the scene, what the plaintiff may have said to any medical professional or when the plaintiff saw any medical professional. Furthermore, the CME doctor may not: opine/report that plaintiff gave an inaccurate history or omitted anything concerning their medical history or lied to the examiner. The CME doctor may not ask the plaintiff: how the plaintiff’s body was injured or what part of his/her body struck what during the accident. The CME doctor may not ask the plaintiff: when they hired a lawyer or if his/her attorney referred him/her to any doctor.
- Ostensibly, the reason behind this is the doctor is not there to find out what happened (the plaintiff’s deposition serves this purpose). Furthermore the patient is not there to remember every medical treatment they received after the accident (medical records will always more accurately serve this purpose). Instead, the CME doctor is simply there to examine and evaluate the plaintiff’s current medical condition – that’s it!
By: Jason Neufeld, Esq.
Attorneys needed after fender benders?