It is not unusual for the defense in a New Orleans personal injury lawsuit to request that an injured person undergo an examination by a medical provider of their choosing. While the defense typically refers to this examination as an “independent medical examination”, personal injury attorneys frequently call it a “defense medical examination” because the examiner – who is being paid by the defendant – is not truly independent.
While a medical provider conducting an examination on behalf of the defense may conclude that your account of your injuries is completely accurate, very rarely does this actually happen. The reason the defense wants to have a doctor examine you before trial is because it is hoping that the doctor will reach conclusions regarding your condition that can be used against you in your lawsuit, and you can expect that the defendant’s physician will look for at least some aspect of your condition or treatment that they can question.
Following the examination, it is common for a defense medical examiner to reach conclusions that minimize your injuries. For example, they may conclude that you were really not injured, your injury pre-existed the accident, you are fully healed and no longer need treatment, you are exaggerating your symptoms, or anything else that will weaken your case.
At trial, the medical provider who conducted the defendant’s medical examination may testify as an expert witness and give his or her opinion about your condition. If a medical provider does testify regarding his or her medical examination, he or she would also be subject to cross-examination by your attorney, who can attack the defense physician’s credibility.
It is up to the jury to decide what weight they want to give to the defendant’s medical examiner’s testimony. If that testimony conflicts with the findings of the physicians who provided your regular treatment, the jury is entitled to give the testimony of a treating physician – who has seen a patient repeatedly – greater weight than that of a physician who has only conducted an examination at the request of the defendant. Such a decision, however, is ultimately in the hands of the jurors.
If you have suffered a personal injury and have any questions, we would be happy to answer them. Please call us at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.