Do I need My Lawyer To Attend Thedefense Medical Examination (“DME”) With Me?

The defense medical examination is often called the “independent medical examination” by defense lawyers. However, the use of the word, “independent”, does not apply for defense medical examinations.

A defense medical examination is a physical examination of an injured person by a physician hired by the insurance company on behalf of the defendant. These doctors are anything but independent and many of them will admit at the beginning of the DME, “I am hired to represent the interests of the insurance company.” The physicians hired by the insurance company are paid to render an opinion that the injured victim either: (1) isn’t truly injured; or (2) is exaggerating the seriousness of the injuries (a “malingerer”); or (3) the pain and disability of the injured person is the result of a “pre-existing” medical condition that cannot be attributed to the defendant’s negligence.

Unbeknownst to the injured person, the defense medical examinations are often videotaped and audiotaped by the physician conducting the examination. The injured person is not told about the secret surveillance of the defense medical examination and unless the insurance company can use the video or audio tape to its benefit, the injured person never learns about its existence.

The defense physician often asks questions about the injured person’s medical history that are inappropriate, such as whether the person has been diagnosed with emotional or psychiatric disorders, or even been accused or convicted of a crime. Crafty insurance physicians will use the defense medical examination as an opportunity to elicit damaging information about the injured person, such as detailed questions about the accident in question.

You should always be represented by your attorney at the defense medical examination to prevent the often abusive tactics of insurance doctors, and to make sure that improper questions are not asked by the physician. In New York, you have the right to have your lawyer present at the DME and you should insist that he/she be present.