Lever & Ecker, PLLC December 15, 2021 Personal injury
When you file a personal injury lawsuit against another individual or party, you will likely find yourself encountering a defense medical exam (DME). After a severe accident, the defense attorney or insurance company can request that your injuries be examined by a medical professional of their choosing. This examination is called a defense medical exam (DME).
Clients are often surprised and overwhelmed that they are required to see a doctor appointed by the opposing party, but a DME’s primary purpose is to have another physician gather information about you, evaluate your injuries, and offer their own separate diagnosis and prognosis, all to aid the defense against your claim. The DME doctor will try to offer information and evidence showing what they think the injury is, whether the injury is causally related to the accident, whether your injuries result in a disability from employment, and how long it may take to fully recover. It is important to remember that the DME physician is hired by the insurance company and thus this medical examination is not independent (even though the insurance companies like to refer to this as an “independent medical examination”), nor is the doctor there to offer you a second opinion or provide you with medical treatment.
While you may not want to undergo a defense medical exam, your case could significantly suffer if you refuse, and it is therefore essentially a mandatory component of your case. Working with a reliable personal injury attorney experienced in navigating clients through the DME process can help you feel more comfortable and protected during your examination. Without someone who understands your rights and is familiar with the process, you may be at risk of hindering your claim and losing the compensation you deserve.
Since a DME is generally specific to one medical specialty, you may be required to undergo multiple DMEs. For example, you may be required to undergo one DME with a neurologist and another one with an orthopedist or rehabilitation specialist, or another medical professional. Since most physicians specialize in distinct categories, the severity of your injuries may make it necessary for you to have to undergo more than one examination.
A defense medical exam can make you feel anxious, but a personal injury lawyer experienced with DMEs can help prepare you for what will occur during the examination. However, the following are a few ways to help yourself feel more comfortable and ready for the exam.
Your DME appointment is crucial, and if you are late or miss the appointment, the insurance company or defense attorney may attempt to hold your failure against you, and conclude that you are unreliable. This can potentially hurt your credibility and jeopardize your ability to gain the full compensation you deserve for your injuries. You may also encounter a non-appearance fee for not making your appointment. If you cannot attend the appointment for any reason, talk with your lawyer as soon as possible about rescheduling for a better time and, in some circumstances, location.
Be sure to tell the doctor about all the pain, discomfort and suffering you have experienced because of the incident. Be sure to describe all the things that you are unable to do and describe in detail the activities you are unable to perform and how the incident has affected your ability to perform them. If you fail to tell the DME doctor about any of your problems, he or she will not include them in his or her report, and this will affect the value of your case. Lastly, do not exaggerate your complaints and injuries. You will not be able to fool the doctor, nor would you want to, and attempting to do so will hurt the reliability of the rest of your complaints.
From the moment you exit your car to enter the doctor’s office to when you leave, the doctor and other individuals may note how you walk and act. If there is a difference between how you act or walk during the examination versus when you believe no one is watching, the defense may be able to claim that you are being untruthful and are exaggerating your pain. When you enter the doctor’s office, you will need to stay calm and truthful throughout the examination and office visit.
It is vital that you stay calm and keep a pleasant demeanor. While you should not pretend that nothing is wrong and that your injuries do not hurt, you should not get defensive or argumentative with the doctor conducting the examination. They will offer comments on how you acted and your behavior that may ultimately hurt your claim and undermine your ability to obtain maximum compensation for your injuries. Staying truthful and calm is one of the most critical parts of the DME.
A New York defense medical exam can come with many steps, especially if you have to partake in more than one. However, an experienced personal injury attorney, knowledgeable in the DME process, can guide you through all the necessary steps for your claim. Contact your lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your best options.
The doctor’s office is not the most fun place to go, and it is especially challenging when you are unfamiliar with the doctor and environment. Our Lever & Ecker, PLLC lawyers understand how uncomfortable the experience can be and are prepared to help you every step of the way. With over 60 years of experience working with clients from across New York, we are dedicated to protecting you and your rights. We tailor our services specifically to your needs so that you can feel confident in your legal representation.