At some point during your personal injury case, you will likely be required to go attend a compulsory medical exam. A compulsory medical exam is an adversarial proceeding scheduled by the defense. The exam is performed to limit how much coverage you receive from your insurance company. The exam is performed by a doctor hired by the insurance company and consists of two parts: an oral component and a physical component. During the oral component of the exam, the doctor will ask you questions for about 15-30 minutes. During the physical component, the doctor will examine you for about 5-10 minutes. The examiner will not only record your physical symptoms and questions answered but also his or her observations of your conduct during the exam.
Why do you even need to go to a compulsory physical exam in the first place? In every auto insurance policy there are two separate clauses. One clause requires that the policy holder comply with the insurance company’s requests. The other clause requires that the policy holder attend a physical examination by an insurance company doctor as often as the insurance company reasonably desires. Together, these two clauses contractually require you to attend an examination, which can be used by the insurance company to deny coverage for your medical bills.
This does not necessarily mean that the physician performing the examination does not care or is untruthful, but it’s important to be aware that they are not neutral physicians. They are hired by the insurance company and look out for the insurance company’s best interests, not yours. They have probably been asked to look out for information that can help the insurance company, such as complaints which do not follow the injury. The oral component of the exam has been specifically designed to extract this information.
So when does the examination start? Many times right as you leave your home.
Insurance companies hire investigators to watch and film policy holders as they are leaving their homes, going between their car and office, and again on the way home. This information may be presented to the examiner. Additionally, the examiner will watch the patient enter the building, check in, undress and perform activities.
To prepare for the examination, take plenty of time to review your medical history and the many ways the accident has changed your life. Do you suffer pain or restriction of movement? Are there any tasks that are difficult or impossible to perform? Make a mental checklist and be prepared to answer questions regarding these matters and provide this information. If you have a long or complicated medical history, consider reviewing it with your personal injury attorney. He or she will help you prepare to report your medical history accurately. Be sure to show up to the examination on time.
The examination generates information that will be used at your trial. Thus, it is important to stay alert and remain polite. Avoid rushing to answer questions and do not become nervous or upset because, this will reflect adversely on the examiner’s opinion of you and your injuries and this information may be used against you at your trial. Answer the questions truthfully and in a straightforward manner. Avoid unnecessary elaboration. The examiner should only ask you about your injuries. The doctor should not ask what caused the accident or irrelevant past health or personal habits, so refrain from answering any questions relating to this information.
Following your compulsory medical exam, schedule an appointment with your doctor that is taking care of your injuries as a result of the accident, as soon as possible, if not on the same day to generate a report that properly reflects your condition.