Will I Have To Undergo A Physician’s Exam In A Florida Med Mal Case?
Yes, it is likely that you will need to participate in a medical exam conducted by a doctor if you are pursuing a medical malpractice case. The reason is logical: The defendants, including the negligent physician and insurer, should be allowed to investigate the facts and basis of your claim. The legal basis stems from discovery provisions in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, which include a provision on Examination of Persons. A party must submit to an exam by a qualified expert when another party’s medical condition is at issue in the lawsuit – which it definitely is in your med mal case.
When requesting that you appear for an exam, the insurance company may phrase it as an “Independent Medical Examination” (IME) in an attempt to convey neutrality. The opposite is true as you will see below. However, since you cannot avoid and must be examined to pursue your med mal claim, it is best to learn as much as you can. Your Tampa medical malpractice attorney will offer specific tips to prepare, and some background is helpful.
Important Notes About Independent Medical Exams: Despite the terminology, an IME is anything but independent. The physician who checks you out is hired by the insurer, often handling many claims and developing a close business relationship with adjusters for the company. If the doctor does not serve the needs of the insurer in a satisfactory way, the company will not maintain this relationship. Therefore, the health care provider leans toward the interests of the insurer when conducting the IME and issuing a report.
Some additional points to note include:
- The IME physician will review your medical records and assess your physical health, but you will not receive treatment.
- The doctor might ask questions about pre-existing conditions in an attempt to deflect liability.
- You might also be faced with questions about your risk factors and lifestyle choices. The physician could be collecting information on how smoking, alcohol abuse, and drug use is the reason behind your medical condition – not the at-fault doctor’s negligence.
- The health care provider who conducts the IME may consult with the insurance company about findings, but he or she may also testify as an expert in court.
How a Med Mal Attorney Supports You with IMEs: The IME may be required by Florida law, but your lawyer will take this into account when developing a legal strategy for your claim. Your attorney will retain a medical expert for your side as well, and this person is entirely dedicated to supporting your needs. You can also count on getting advice on preparing for the IME and tips to get through the session with a minimal impact on your interests.
Rely on a Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyer to Help Navigate the IME
To learn more about IMEs and their role in your case, please call Greco & Wozniak P.A. at 813.223.7849 or go online to set up a free consultation. Our team serves those in Hillsborough County and the surrounding area from our offices in Tampa.