Do You Have to go to the at-fault driver's doctor in a car or truck crash case?

In the course of a hotly contested litigation involving personal injury, it is fairly routine for the defense to seek a so-called independent medical exam.

Truthfully there is nothing independent about the process. The doctor is selected by the at-fault driver's insurance company and lawyer and they don't choose "independent" examiners. They choose courtroom tested, dependable voices for the defendant. Which means whatever injury you have sustained in the crash, wasn't as bad as you and your doctors think.

Plaintiff's lawyers see the same " Independent medical examiners" over and over. The doctors in turn make a fortune doing IMEs. Allan and I have cross-examined them all and the money they make in this business is staggering. When jurors hear how much they make they  tend to disregard the "independent" opinions they render. Which is why you better have an attorney who knows how to neutralize them.

So do you have to go see one of the usual suspects in your case? The answer is maybe.

For smaller Maryland cases that are pending in state district court there is no such requirement. For larger cases pending in Maryland Circuit Court or federal court the maybe comes into play.

Maryland Rule 2-423 governs such things and provides the mechanism for resolving disagreements as to whether such an exam should take place and with whom. The rule is pretty barebones suggesting its application to instances where " the mental or physical condition or characteristic of a party is in controversy".

It also requires "good cause shown and notice to the person to be examined and the date, place and time."

So what happens if you don't want to attend such an IME?  The answer is seek a protective order pursuant to Maryland Rule 2-403. That rule provides a host of nuanced protections for the prospective examinee including the possibility that such an exam not take place.

To be clear, it is rare for a court to prohibit such an exam from occurring.  However, the court might limit the geographic area for such an exam to the county in which the lawsuit is pending or a finite distance from the plaintiff's home.

Other limitations can be imposed such as the particular medical specialty of the independent examiner. For example if all the plaintiff's medical care came from an orthopedist it would make little sense for a podiatrist to be the IME expert. There are many other subtle distinctions in medicine and law that can give rise to IME disputes.

So, if you have a substantial case expect that you will be sent to an IME doctor, expect that your lawyer will agree to it and that the IME report won't be helpful to your case.

Robert V. Clark
Maryland Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer