In every personal injury case, the defendant is entitled to what it typically calls an “independent medical exam” or “IME”. Smart plaintiffs’ lawyers refer to it as a “defense medical exam” or “DME”. Official court rules of procedure may use the term “independent medical exam”. This is surprising given the nature of the typical “IME.” go to this Console and Associates P.C.
It is important for plaintiffs and their representatives to call this exam a “DME” because that is most accurate. Calling a defense medical exam an “IME” sets up a psychological context and expectation that is against the plaintiff’s interests. Calling this exam a “DME” in written correspondence, legal filings, during depositions and even during trial communicates a view of the nature of these exams to the insurance company, their lawyers, the judge and the jury.
Never underestimate the power of words. Just as an auto collision involving a child should be called a “pedestrian knockdown” rather than a “child dart out accident”, so too the insurance company doctor’s medical exam should be called a “DME”.
The fundamental issue underlying this discussion is the nature of medical/legal testimony and our adversarial civil justice system. There is a very broad range within which a doctor can make arguably defensible medical conclusions.
What one doctor regards as a significant injury, permanent in nature, another doctor may conclude is a minor injury from which maximum medical improvement has been achieved. The first doctor may conclude that the injury was unquestionably caused by the event that prompted the litigation. The second doctor may conclude that there is no causal relationship. Both doctors’ findings may very well be defensible within this broad range.