Your Clearwater car accident case is in litigation and you’ve just been notified that you have to attend a medical examination with a doctor of the DEFENDANT’S choice. Learning about the right of the defendant(s) to force you to undergo a medical examination can be overwhelming and confusing. At the Personal Injury Law Office of Chelsie M. Lamie, P.A. we strive to explain every step of the litigation process to our clients and to minimize their confusion and fear which is why we explain this process to our clients as soon as the lawsuit is filed.
As a Plaintiff in a personal injury action, you bear the burden to show that your injuries were caused by the accident that the defendant caused. As part of proving these damages, on top of having your treating doctors testify, sometimes our firm will hire an expert to examine you and testify about your injuries. Just as we have the right to do so, the defense does as well. In almost every personal injury case, the defense will invoke their right to have you undergo a Compulsory Medical Examination (“CME”). This exam is governed by Rule 1.360 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure and fortunately, there are some protections built into the rule to protect you, the Plaintiff.
What is a Compulsory Medical Examination (“CME”)?
A CME is a medical examination by a doctor who is hired and paid by the defense attorney. This means that the doctor is not your treating doctor, and there is no physician-patient relationship established. It should come as no surprise that these doctors almost always find that (1) you were not injured as a result of the accident or (2) that while you were injured as a result of the accident those injuries were minor and temporary in nature.
In addition to Florida statutory law, there are a number of standard court orders in the state of Florida that govern these types of medical examinations. At the Personal Injury Law Office of Chelsie M. Lamie, P.A. we file the standing Order in every case in litigation to ensure that rules are followed and that your rights are protected.
Who will be present at the CME?
Most court orders provide that the defense attorney, including her agents, is not permitted to appear at the examination. However, your attorney is permitted to attend the examination as your representative. At the Personal Injury Law Office of Chelsie M. Lamie, P.A., we always attend the examination with you and even hire a videographer to tape the entire exam, which is allowed under our local Orders.
What should I expect to happen during the CME?
A CME is commonly a two-part examination. First, you should expect the doctor to ask you about the accident, your medical treatment to date, whether the treatment has helped, what injuries you have sustained, what symptoms you still experience, and whether you are still seeking medical attention. Your attorney will ensure that you are asked only the minimal questions necessary for the doctor to complete his or her exam. The doctors are not allowed to conduct a mini-deposition of you.
The second half of the exam will consist of medical tests similar to those your treating physicians may have performed on you, including, but not limited to, flexibility, range of motion, your ability to feel sensations, and visual inspections.
Additionally, although not all doctors or defense attorneys partake in surveillance, you should expect that you are being watched as you enter and leave the examination facility, including the parking lot. This is one time they will know exactly where you will be and when.
How should I respond during the CME?
There are five general rules that you should remember for these types of examinations:
- Be truthful with your answers.
- Do not try to fake or exaggerate any injuries or symptoms.
- Do not rush into providing an answer and always ask the doctor to clarify a question that you do not understand.
- When describing your injuries and the pain that results therefrom, avoid absolute language, such as “always,” “never,” and “can’t.” It is best to say, “It hurts when I do <insert activity>.”
- If something hurts during the examination, tell the doctor. Otherwise, she will assume that you can perform such movement without difficulty.
Attorney Chelsie M. Lamie is a personal injury attorney located in Safety Harbor, Florida. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident or slip and fall accident, please call 727-501-3464 for a free consultation. You can also learn more about Attorney Lamie at www.chelsielamie.com.