There is a part of all civil cases, called “discovery,” where each party (i.e., the plaintiff and the defendant) gathers information about the other side’s case—i.e., what documents they have and what testimony they will present at trial.
The discovery procedures form a part of civil procedure. These procedures give each party to a lawsuit a number of tools that they can use to find out as much as possible about the other side’s case prior to trial.
The purpose of the discovery tools is to encourage settlement by allowing a full exchange of information. Some of the discovery tools commonly used in most civil litigations include interrogatories (questions posed to the other side), depositions (sworn testimony), and requests for production of documents.
In personal injury cases, the plaintiff is generally claiming physical or psychological damage caused by the defendant’s negligence.
In these cases, a common discovery tool available to the defense is a medical or psychological examination of the plaintiff.
Independent Medical Examinations.
In a typical personal injury action, when a person who has been injured (for simplicity’s sake we’ll limit our focus to physical injuries but it could also be psychological or emotional damage) due to the carelessness of another, brings a lawsuit to recover for those damages, it is said that the plaintiff “puts” his/her physical condition “into an issue.” Basically, this means that one of the issues in the case is the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries.
This gives the defendant in a personal injury action the right to “discover” the extent of the plaintiff’s injuries. To do this, the defendant can demand that the plaintiff undergo an independent medical examination (“IME”).
An IME is just what it says: a medical examination conducted by a doctor of the defendant’s choosing – not the plaintiff’s. The IME is not for the purposes of diagnosis or treatment of the plaintiff, it is to gather evidence for the defendant’s case.
Not surprisingly, many plaintiffs don’t want to be examined by someone who is not their doctor and they may try to refuse to undergo an IME.
While an IME cannot be conducted in a manner that is unduly burdensome, harassing, dangerous or oppressive, in general, if a plaintiff ordered to undergo an IME, he/she has to go.
If the plaintiff refuses, the court can order him/her to go. This is one reason why it is important to have experienced personal injury counsel by your side if you are in a personal injury case. Your attorney can make sure that the IME complies with the rules and that limits set on the method of examination, how the examination is conducted, and how many examinations the defendant demands.
Your attorney can also protect your right to not be subjected to unsupervised interrogation by an agent of the defense (i.e., the doctor) during the examination.
Working Hard to Protect You.
We are experienced personal injury attorneys at Day Law Group in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We offer free consultations and in most cases, we don’t get paid unless you win. We serve a number of the surrounding areas including Baker, Gonzales, Port Allen, New Orleans, Zachary, and several other cities in Louisiana. To schedule your free consultation, call ToDay at (225) 465-1232 or contact us here.