The insurance companies love them. They hire the same doctors over and over again. These doctors are not “independent.” They are bought and paid for by the insurance companies who support them. They don’t complete a “medical” exam. This is a “legal” exam that is done for an insurance lawyer. There is no doctor-patient relationship. The only quest for this “insurance lawyer/doctor” team is to try and remove causation of the wreck or harm done at issue from the naturally flowing consequences of same. Lastly, there is no real exam. The doctor is only there to document the things that are NOT WRONG with your client. Or worse, to insinuate your client is a liar, fraud, or a cheat.
When you get that letter or notice that the insurance lawyer wants to do an “IME”, don’t fret it my friends. No, better yet…. Embrace it! The defense just added significant value to your case. I can tell you that I have received “record” verdicts that, in my mind, would never have been obtained but for the manna sent from heaven courtesy of the defense/insurance IME. It’s a true gift to you, if you frame it in a truthful and transparent light.
But you better get ready, and do some work in preparation for it. I will give examples below where I have used tools in the last several trials I have had to expose these frauds. One thing you must keep in mind as you do any work in preparation for trial: Trial is a symphony. It is not just one part over here of the trumpets, the cellos over there… you get the idea. You have to focus on revealing the truth in every phase of trial beginning with jury selection forward. Here are a few quick examples of how to use the Insurance Medical Exam to your benefit in trial.
1. Direct Exam of Your Treating Doctor
You probably do not know at the time of your medical proof that there will even be an IME. They have not had to disclose yet, most likely. But prepare for it anyway. Ask your doctor in direct exam the following:
Q: Doctor, when you treated Ms. Norfleet for all of these injuries, were you doing it for the sole purpose of helping her get better, or was there any other reason?
A: I was just doing my best to getting the use of her arm back the best I could.
Q: Did she see you throughout her care because you are the doctor that just happened to be on call when she came in on Life Flight and you stayed with her, or is there any other reason you became involved in her care initially?
A: I was on call as part of my duties here at Vanderbilt and yes, I have stayed involved in her case from day one to present.
Q: I did not hire you as a courtroom expert in this case, did I ?
A: No sir.
Q: And for her future care, are you willing to remain her doctor and see her if she needs future care?
Q: Are you available here at Vanderbilt if any other doctors need to consult with you about what is best for Ms. Norfleet’s care in the future?
Et Voila! The defense may object, but once the IME doctor is revealed from behind the dark curtain, this is relevant testimony. You have just shown that your treating doctor is exactly what a jury thinks a treating doctor should be. Not a courtroom doctor working for lawyers. He just happened to be on call when this patient’s case came in.
2. Never use the term “Independent” When Dealing with the DME “Expert”
Language is important. It is by no means an “Independent” Medical Exam, so don’t acquiesce in it by dishonoring the word “Independent.” Call it what it is… a Defense Medical Exam, or DME. Believing these guys are independent is like believing a prostitute loves her johns. These guys are white collar peddlers, and they should be exposed as such.
3. Show They are not Credentialed
They very seldom are. A quick google search shows the top 2 accredited organizations that doctors can ascribe to. Here is a suggestion on how to cross the DME on this topic:
Q: Doctor, you have testified that you performed this so-called “independent” medical exam, true?
Q: But this so called “exam” was not requested by me, was it? Or the plaintiff in this case?
Q: The judge did not request this exam either, did he/she?
Q: Do you know who (state the defendant’s name) is?
A: No. Who is that?
Q: (disregard, the jury is well aware of who the defendant is at this point in the trial)
Q: The only person that requested this exam is the defense lawyer, true?
Q: You claim that you are independent, yet you are being paid by the defense attorney in this case, true?
Q: You are not certified as a C.I.M.E, are you? Do you know what that is?
A: No. I am not familiar with that.
Q: That is what is commonly known as a Certified Independent Medical Examiner. Are you certified by the American Board of Independent Medical Examiners?
Q: Are you certified by the American Medical Association as an Independent Medical Examiner?
Q: According to your website, you list yourself as a “shoulder specialist”, true?
Q: And there are other physicians in your practice who designate them as “spine specialists”, true?
Q: Any spine specialists you work around that come to mind?
A: ahh…. There are several I work with.
Q: And yet, since this is a case involving the spine of Ms. Anderson, were all of those doctors just too busy to look at this case? Is that why they came to you, a shoulder specialist to look at a spine case?
A: I am certainly competent to give opinions in this case counselor.
Q: Well, you at least share that opinion with the defense attorney who hired you. How many times have you worked with (insurance lawyer) before?
4. Voir Dire Considerations
Some folks want doctors to follow the medically required steps when diagnosing them. Other folks think it’s up to the doctor whether to follow the medically required steps? Which way do you lean?
Do any of you know a doctor fairly well? Do any of you know a doctor who receives a substantial portion of their income from providing courtroom testimony for defense lawyers?
5 . Closing – Bringing It All Together
The DME Exam is a SHAM!
It is our job to show that this whole “IME” exam is a sham. These doctors are not simply having a difference of opinion. They are intentionally getting it wrong. This was never a search for truth or justice. This was a search by the defense for a way of evading responsibility. If you pay enough money, you can get an expert to say just about anything. Cigarette companies for years had “experts” tell us that smoking is perfectly healthy. Don’t you think that if the defense could have found a doctor that was truly certified as an “Independent Doctor” to come in and say the things that were factual and supported their case, they would have? Don’t you think if the defense could have found a doctor that specialized in necks and spines, they would have done so? But they did not do that in this case. Ask yourself why they did not do that? It’s because no one could follow the rules a true spine doctor goes by and come up with the opinion to satisfy the defense lawyers.
There are many other tools I use in my arsenal to take down these doctors and expose them for the greedy goons they are. If you have a case coming up where you would like to discuss ways to get the truth revealed against these so-called “experts,” give me a call.
Remember, you can never settle your case for what a jury may provide your client at trial. Try your case… or at least get it into the hands of someone who knows how.