The insurance company of the driver at fault almost always conducts a medical examination of the driver claiming damages for his/her injuries, called independent medical examination (IME). This examination is the opportunity for the insurance company to conduct it’s own medical evaluation of your condition.
A defendant in a personal injury case has the right to one physical examination of plaintiff without leave of court simply by serving plaintiff with a proper written demand for such medical examination. Further, the physical exam is limited to those parts of plaintiff’s body or conditions that are “in controversy” in the action as provided by California Court of Civil Procedure section 2032.020(a). The examination may also not be unduly painful or intrusive and should generally be limited to common, procedures for assessing/evaluating the condition and the extent of the injuries of the plaintiff.
In many cases the examining doctor is not truly “independent.” When hired by the defense insurance company, the physician may in fact be partial to the defense position as they are the ones who paying for physician’s services and are likely to bring more business in the future if they are “satisfied” with the results of these examinations. The examined plaintiff’s remedy in such situations is to bring out such evidence of bias at trial in the form of impeachment. The plaintiff cannot, after trial and apparent dissatisfaction with the award of damages, sue the doctor for fraud or conspiracy on the ground of compiling a negative report. The proper remedy is bringing a motion for new trial or motion to increase award promptly.