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“Independent” Medical Examinations?

Posted By Regan Zambri & Long || 3-May-2009

In most jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia, if a plaintiff claims an injury, the defendant has the right to have the injured plaintiff examined by a physician.  These examinations are often referred to as "independent medical examinations."  However, a recent New York Times article demonstrates that these examinations are anything but "independent." 

NYT reporter N.R. Kleinfeld’s review of worker’s compensation cases in New York revealed "that the exam reports are routinely tilted to benefit insurers by minimizing or dismissing injuries."  This not surprising since the insurance company is paying for the examination.   

Incredibly, Dr. Hershel Samuels admitted that: “If you did a truly pure report, you’d be out on your ears and the insurers wouldn’t pay for it. You have to give them what they want, or you’re in Florida. That’s the game, baby.”   

It seems that a fair and accurate solution to this problem would be to force the defendant to select a truly independent physician from a list of medical providers compiled by the court.   

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