If you file a negligence lawsuit in New York State, the defense is entitled to request a Defendant’s Medical Exam (DME). The idea behind the DME is simple enough: if you make a claim for physical injuries, the defense wants their own doctor to examine and understand your injuries. Let me take some time to explain the Defendant’s Medical Exam and what it means to you as a plaintiff.
The defense needs to make a formal request as part of the Discovery process for a defendant’s medical exam. The defense usually waits until after conducting a deposition of the plaintiff before scheduling the DME. During the deposition, the defense attorney will question the plaintiff and ask the defendant to detail the injuries or illnesses he or she suffered.
The Defendant’s Medical exam will usually occur within 30 days of the plaintiff’s deposition. The defense will notify the plaintiff’s attorney of eh date, time and place and the attorney will notify the plaintiff. If the appointment time creates a conflict, the plaintiff can arrange to reschedule the appointment. In some cases, I work with my clients and the defense’s doctor to reschedule the appointment and in other cases, the client will arrange the new appointment directly with the defendant’s doctor. Rescheduling is acceptable as long as the plaintiff does not miss an appointment or endlessly reschedule as a form of avoiding the medical exam.
The defense will chose a doctor to perform the DME. Most insurance companies have arrangements with a select group of doctors who conduct all of their DMEs. As part of the Discovery process, the defense can request copies of the plaintiff’s medical records and the defense usually provides a copy of those records in advance to the doctor conducting the defendant’s medical exam.
What the Defendant’s Medical Exam Means to You
If you are a plaintiff, it is important to recognize that the defense does not schedule this medical exam because they are concerned with your health. The defense intends to use this opportunity to hire a doctor who will say that you are not as badly injured as your own doctors say so that they can limit the amount of money their client will have to pay in compensation.
You need not worry about your DME. This is part of the legal process and you cannot do anything to avoid it or change the outcome. Sometimes, the examining doctor will confirm your injury or illness and help your case. I have been able to settle cases after the defense’s chosen doctor has confirmed a client’s medical claims. Sometimes, the examining doctor will disagree with your doctor’s assessment, but at trial, you will be able to refute the opinions of the DME doctor.
Preparing for the Defendant’s Medical Exam
Once you have scheduled the Defendant’s Medical Exam, make sure you show up on time. You will want to determine directions and travel time in advance so that you are not subject to delays. It is best to show up a little early so that you are relaxed and comfortable.
Wear comfortable clothes that will be easy to change for our exam. Do not wear any unusual or exotic clothing.
The doctor will ask you questions pertaining to your health and your condition. You should answer the doctor’s questions. However, you should not say anything extra. The defendant’s doctor is not permitted to ask you questions regarding the defendant’s responsibility for the accident. Some DME doctors are such advocates for the defense that they try to “investigate” the incident. This is improper; the doctor’s only function is to evaluate the nature and extent of your injuries. You should not engage in any small talk. You should not give any additional information to the examining doctor. After the exam, he or she will prepare a report that both the defense attorney and I will receive. Any statements you may make to the doctor will be included in that report.
I hope you found this information helpful. The legal process involved in prosecuting a civil suit has many parts to it and the Defendant’s Medical Exam (DME) is just one part. I will write about each part of the process at my blog, New York Law Thoughts. If you have questions or believe you have a personal injury or medical malpractice case, I will be glad to answer your questions and assist you. You can call me at 1-800-660-1466 or email me. You can also visit my website or read more on my blog, New York Law Thoughts.
This material is intended for informational uses only. It is not meant as legal advice. To receive legal advice, you should consult an attorney.