One of the earlier California cases allowing an attorney-at-law to be present at an Independent Medical Exam (IME) called by the defense was Shariff v. Superior Court of City & County of San Francisco (1955).  What is interesting from this case was the courts logic or rationale for why a representative would be needed in the exam:

The doctor should, or course, be free to ask such questions as may be necessary to enable him to formulate an intelligent opinion regarding the nature and extent of the plaintiff's injuries, but he should not be allowed to make inquiries into matters not reasonably related to the legitimate scope of the examination.  Whenever a doctor selected by the defendant conducts a physical examination of the plaintiff, there is a possibility that improper questions may be asked, and a lay person should not be expected to evaluate the propriety of every question at his peril.

Why Having a Personal Representative at the IME is a  Good Idea:
A personal representative could be the attorney (but I do not recommend this as the attorney cannot call himself as a witness if the case goes to trial regarding what did and did not take place during the IME), or a nurse.  The nurse is much better since she or he can be called as a witness. In the expectation of attending a California IME for an auto accident case, how worrisome is it to realize the defense medical doctor may be more interested in whether the light was red, whether the bushes interrupted a particular view, or what the at-fault party may or may not have said at the accident scene. Only quick focus will be paid to the medical records that have been documented since the accident, but detailed and focused attention will be paid to the targeted past medical history of the plaintiff!  Now, according to California case law, the representative's purpose at an IME is to prevent the defense medical doctor from asking improper questions, for example, those not reasonably related to the legitimate scope of the medical examination.

As briefly mentioned above, a split in common legal practice exists as to whether an attorney or nurse witness should attend the California IME.  As I mentioned, I recommend the nurse; but, if the attorney attends, it can help the plaintiff in moral support.  Also, the added bonus for the attorney attending, is the attorney gets the opportunity to evaluate the defense medical doctor for free.  Also, the attorney does not have to pay the nurse to attend.  Obviously, there are advantages to both (either the nurse or the attorney). 
Mark Blane
Connect with me
San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer | California Car Accident Attorney
Post A Comment