Not All Doctors Want to Help You
After a Maryland personal injury claim has been filed by a plaintiff, the other side will have the right to have their own doctor perform a physical examination of the injured plaintiff. Maryland Rule 2-423 permits such examinations. The defense bar has dubbed this physical examination “independent” in an attempt to convince the jury that the examination of the plaintiff by the defendant’s “hired gun” doctor is independent. However, it is important to understand that there is nothing “independent” about an IME. A more appropriate name for this examination is “Adverse Medical Examination” or “Defense Medical Examination.”
An insurance company or its attorney hires the doctor to perform the IME. Usually, the insurance company calls upon doctors from a relatively small group that the insurance company frequently uses. Often, these doctors testify only against injured people, or testify occasionally for the injured person just to say they testify for both plaintiffs and defendants. Performing IMEs for insurance companies can account for a significant portion of these doctors’ salaries.
If you are required to undergo such examination, remember that the doctor’s job is to harm your case, not help treat your injury. The doctor is not acting as a normal doctor, he is acting as an expert witness for the defendant and will likely be called at trial to testify against you. During the physical examination, the doctor may not ask you specifically if what he is doing is causing pain. For example, the doctor may put you through range of motion testing which could cause you pain. Immediately relate any such pain or discomfort to the IME doctor. Hiding your pain may cause the doctor to write a misleading report indicating that you have full range of motion without pain.