Preparation for the IME is important in any injury case.  Before the plaintiff (injured party) goes to the medical examination (the independent medical exam called by the defense), he or she should review the medical records as the defense medical doctor will take a detailed medial history, often from date of birth forward. If the plaintiff has been deposed in a deposition (which is usually the case), it is wise to the review the deposition transcript as it can also be helpful for insight.  Although a court reporter will not usually be present, the medical examination (IME) is intended to elicit statements that may be used against the plaintiff during a trial if the case goes that far.  Most clients are not medical professionals so they will not be expected to  express technical medical terminology or diagnosis, but, a lay understanding will be explored in the key areas of pre-existing conditions or injuries; such as course of medical care, present medical condition, and  a time line of symptoms and the like.

All plaintiffs should be instructed that the medical examination is not a second medical opinion as the exam is sometimes commonly viewed in the medical community.  Instead, it should be well advised to the plaintiff that it is an adversarial medical proceeding where the insurance company has hired the medical doctor who regularly performs such exams to try and minimize the plaintiff injuries with a skeptical view point.  Some of the time, the defense medical doctor is retired or maintains a limited private medical practice and whose livelihood is sometimes to a significant part dependent upon the hiring insurance company for such medical jobs.  When the plaintiff attends the IME, the plaintiff should be warned to have insight on the following questions by the defense medical doctor:

1.  Any pre-existing injuries - the plaintiff should be as accurate as possible; however, when in doubt, refer the defense doctor to the medical records which have been provided by the defense insurance company to the defense medical doctor.  An example answer could be:  "I may have strained my left should years ago, but I cannot remember the details; I am sure the medical records you have will be very thorough."  The plaintiff will want to avoid using the word never as much as possible, and replace it with "I do not recall at this time."

2. How forceful with the impact (that caused the injury?).  Unless actual knowledge exists, matters of speed, time and distance should not be estimated.

3. Bio-mechanics of injury?  During the defense exam, utilization of headrest, shoulder harness, seat belt, and any striking of the head or body parts will be the focus and scrutinized. If any flexion or extension (range of motion) is not questioned, it should be volunteered by the plaintiff.

4.  Time line of symptoms; the plaintiff should be able to give a layperson interpretation on this line of questioning.

5.  Course of care in medical treatment; because the defense doctor has the records, reference to those records should be done whenever the plaintiff is in doubt with this subject.

6.  Present medical condition; the plaintiff should be able to communicate this without a problem.

Mark Blane
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San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer | California Car Accident Attorney
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Nicholas Trillo 02/21/2011 03:43 AM
The way San Diego is today this does not surprise me. I am a Process Server based of this fine city and am located downtown. I completely understand where the author is coming from. So many times do I see lawsuits such as these occurring. If anyone is looking for further information may I suggest looking at my blog at Thank you.
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Simon 02/06/2013 11:21 PM
These are some really good tips! Individuals usually do not have the expertise when it concerns the law or medical conditions. This might lead them to say the wrong things unintentionally and cause them to be deprived of their own rights that they truly deserve. These few guidelines can help prepare the plaintiff to be more confident in answering the medical doctor's questions and not provide misleading answers that the insurance company can use against the plaintiff. Lawyers are very smart when it comes to twisting words to turn into believable statements. So, be prepared to protect yourself.
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