Whether a plaintiff recovers in a lawsuit often comes down to the legitimacy and severity of their injuries. Fortunately, defendants in West Virginia (WV) do not have to rely solely on the plaintiff’s doctor’s opinions and medical records to establish these facts. An independent medical examination (IME) provides an unbiased medical opinion on the plaintiff’s injuries. With the ability to impact the case’s outcome, the role of an IME expert in car wreck defense can be key.
An experienced attorney like M. Andrew Brison at The Law Office of M. Andrew Brison, PLLC can answer a defendant’s questions about WV car accident defense and medical exams and may leverage the results of an IME to provide a strong defense against these claims.
The Role of an IME Expert in Car Wreck Defense
To ensure fairness, a WV car accident defense team may require the plaintiff to undergo an independent medical examination. This exam is just as it sounds: a physician who does not have an existing doctor-patient relationship with the plaintiff is chosen by the defense to perform an examination and evaluation of the plaintiff’s medical history and injuries.
When the examination is complete, the doctor typically provides an oral report of the findings to the defense. The defense may then request that the report be documented in writing. An IME doctor’s report will include the following:
- Review of the plaintiff’s medical records history
- Results from a physical examination
- The physician’s opinion on the causation of the plaintiff’s injuries
- The physician’s opinion on the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries
A plaintiff’s medical providers rarely have access to the person’s medical records history, so complaints are often evaluated based on the medical history provided by the plaintiff. An independent medical examination may provide evidence of a preexisting condition that contributed to the injuries reported. It can also result in a rebuttal of the plaintiff’s medical doctors and experts, making IME evaluations sometimes essential to a strong WV car accident defense.
How to Request an IME Expert in Car Wreck Defense
A WV car accident defense attorney must follow certain requirements when requesting an independent medical examination. In some cases, the plaintiff may agree to undergo an IME. If not, the defense must request the examination pursuant to Rule 35 of the WV Rules of Civil Procedure. The requirements include the following:
- The party requesting the IME must show good cause
- The party requesting the IME must provide the plaintiff with due notice of the date, time, location, manner, conditions and scope of the examination
- The party requesting the IME must pay for the independent medical examination, although these costs may be covered by an insurance policy in some cases
- An IME doctor who may testify at trial must be available for cross-examination at a deposition under Rule 26(b)(4) of the WV Rules of Civil Procedure
- The party requesting to depose the IME physician must pay the expert a reasonable fee for the time required to respond to discovery
How an Independent Medical Exam Impacts a Lawsuit
An independent medical examination provides an unbiased medical opinion of the plaintiff’s injury that includes a review of previous medical records. If the independent doctor finds the plaintiff’s injuries are not as severe as claimed by the plaintiff or are a result of another incident, the defense can submit this evidence and potentially reduce or eliminate the plaintiff’s right to recovery.
Informed medical opinions can be crucial in decreasing or, in some cases, eliminating the plaintiff’s recovery of personal injury damages. An experienced IME doctor may be able to provide the expert testimony you need to establish that the plaintiff is not entitled to recover damages for the injuries or that the recovery should not be as high as the plaintiff demands.
Who Is the IME Expert in Car Wreck Defense Cases?
The independent medical examiner is a doctor chosen by the defendant or insurance company to examine the plaintiff. While the defense has the freedom to pick from a large field of doctors, there are some requirements.
The doctor must have experience or expertise in treating the type of injuries the plaintiff claims. When a plaintiff claims a fractured leg, an orthopedist, not a brain surgeon, for example, would be the appropriate choice to perform an independent medical exam. More than one examination may be required if multiple injuries involving specialized areas of medical practice are claimed.
In addition to any physical examinations, when the plaintiff claims damages based on their mental condition, the defendant has the right to seek a mental examination of the plaintiff under Rule 35 of the WV Rules of Civil Procedure. Without a claim for damages regarding an emotional or psychological injury, the defendant cannot request a psychological examination.
Contact a WV Car Accident Defense Attorney
Having an IME expert in car wreck defense can be essential to limiting your exposure. With the help of the right medical expert, an experienced car accident defense attorney like M. Andrew Brison can submit proper evidence that may reduce or eliminate the plaintiff’s right to recovery. To discuss your options to request an independent medical exam and other aspects of WV car accident defense, contact The Law Office of M. Andrew Brison, PLLC at 304-397-8225 or complete this online contact form.