In every personal injury case, the defendant has the right to request that the plaintiff undergo a compulsory medical examination (CME). In Florida, the compulsory medical examination is not a request — if you have filed a lawsuit, you must undergo this examination.
These examinations can lead to trouble for your case, especially when you do not have an experienced Pensacola, FL personal injury attorney working for you. If you have suffered an injury in an accident, Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers in Pensacola, FL, can advise you on all the necessary procedures while fighting for your legal rights.
The Insurance Company Will Almost Always Request a CME
When you have filed a claim or lawsuit, you have made representations about the extent of your injuries. Your medical records are the basis of practically all of your claim, and that’s because your damages tie into your physical condition. When you file a claim, you cannot expect the insurance company to take your word for your injuries.
In a CME, the defendant (usually the insurance company) will send you to an independent medical examiner. The use of the word “independent” is not entirely accurate. The doctor is paid by the insurance company, and they receive repeat business from them.
The doctor often views their role as gathering information that can help the insurance company to contest your claim. If they do not, they may not get continued business from the insurance company.
The CME Can Harm Your Case if You Are Not Careful
As a result, the CME can present a challenge for your case. You cannot refuse to undergo the examination — you can only object to it if you have a good reason. If you do not attend the CME, it can be detrimental to your case.
The doctor will put together their own report and send it to the insurance company. Before you can receive a settlement offer, the insurance company will review the report to form their own opinion of the extent of your injuries. They may use the CME report to justify making you a lower settlement offer.
You Can and Should Have an Attorney Present During a CME
You have legal rights during a CME. You have the right to have your attorney present during the examination. Your lawyer will view the physical examination. You can also have a videographer present, so you can have video evidence of what happened.
In addition, you should prepare for your CME ahead of time, almost like you will testify at a trial. When you speak with an attorney beforehand, they will tell you what to expect and what you should and should not say.
Be Truthful with the Doctor and Do Not Exaggerate
Even though the independent medical examiner can present problems for your case, you should not view the CME as a process where you need to “sell” the doctor about the extent of your injuries. The doctor conducting the CME has extensive experience. They know what to look for in the examination based on their years of experience.
If you try to exaggerate your injuries or are untruthful with the examiner, they can see right through it. Still, they will report to the insurance company that they believe you were not telling the truth about your injuries.
From your perspective, a CME should be about avoiding mistakes that can harm your claim. One major mistake that claimants make is when they trust the doctor who is performing their examination. This physician is not the same as your own personal doctor, whom you can trust. This physician works for the insurance company that pays their fee. The doctor is not here to treat your injuries. They are here to gather evidence to undermine your claim potentially.
In addition, you should also stick to answering only the questions that the doctor asks you. If you editorialize or volunteer more information, the insurance company may use anything you say against you.
Do Not Let the Doctor Lead You into a Trap
The doctor may try to put words in your mouth, subtly leading you into admitting that they are not as bad as they appear in your claim. It can be challenging to be on guard for any potential tricks that the doctor may use during the examination, especially when you lack medical experience.
Still, you should choose your words very carefully about your injuries. The doctor may even take an innocent statement out of context.
The Insurance Company Does Not Get the Final Say
The results of the CME are not the final determination of your injuries for your claim. Your doctor’s opinion still carries weight. If the insurance company is wrongfully discounting or misstating your injuries, you still have legal options.
You can always take your case to court and let the jury decide the extent of your injuries. You should not let the insurance company push you around by downplaying your injuries. If you cannot reach a settlement agreement because the insurance company refuses to fully and fairly pay you, you can always file a lawsuit.
When Required to Have a CME, Contact a Pensacola Personal Injury Attorney
To get the answers to your questions about the compulsory medical examination in Florida and other legal matters, you should reach out to the attorneys at Stevenson Klotz Injury Lawyers. The insurance company is looking for you to make an error, and hiring an experienced attorney right after your accident can help keep that from happening.
We offer free consultations to prospective clients. To speak with an attorney, you can send us a message online or call us today at (850) 444-0000.
Compulsory Medical Exam FAQs
Does the other insurance company always ask for a CME?
Not always, but they frequently do. Additionally, your own insurance company may require a CME. A CME paid by your insurance company is a first-party CME, whereas another insurance company sends you to a third-party CME.
What is the law that authorizes compulsory medical exams?
Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.360 establishes the scope of CMEs in Florida.
Where do CMEs take place?
According to Florida statutes, there is no set location where a compulsory medical exam must be conducted. It could take place outside of a medical environment like a law office, and there are no county restrictions.