Motor vehicle accidents and medical examinations!
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident lawsuit and are suing for your injuries, you may or may not be surprised to know that ICBC is entitled to request you to be examined by a medical doctor of their choice. This is to assist them in their attempt to minimize your claim for injuries.
ICBC typically selects from a small group of doctors. Every one of these doctors claims to be “independent” of ICBC and to exercise their best medical judgment. However, lawyers who act for injured parties believe that these doctors tend to be selected by ICBC because the attitudes and values which the doctors hold make it more likely that they will view your injuries to be less serious than the average doctor would.
In many cases, the doctor selected by ICBC for “independent” medical examinations derives a major portion of their income by preparing these reports. With rare exceptions, these doctors are not considered leaders in their field - though in most cases they are considered very knowledgeable. You can decide for yourself why ICBC would insist on using a small group of doctors to perform most of their “independent” medical examinations when these doctors are not considered to be the top experts in their field.
So, here are my nine top tips to prepare you for your ICBC "independent" medical examination:
1. Review your medical records. Your lawyer will have received a copy of these from your doctor.
2. Make an appointment with your own physician for a week before the independent medical examination to have your physician explain your medical condition to you as fully as possible.
3. Be prepared to give your complete medical history in a concise way. The independent medical examination doctor will likely spend the greatest amount of time in the examination taking this history and will usually only take a few moments to examine you.
4. This doctor will expect you to act like a patient. Be candid, honest, thorough and co-operative. Any hesitations on your part will probably to interpreted as a lack of honesty.
5. If the doctor asks you to do something which you feel you are not capable of doing, attempt to do it and stop only when the activity causes you discomfort or pain. Tell the doctor when it causes you this discomfort or pain. If you simply refuse to do something that the doctor asks you to do, the report will likely say that you were uncooperative and that the doctor found no “objective” indications of injury.
6. Always state during the examination that you don’t really care about the money, you would rather have your health back and get better.
7. Always ask the doctor what you can do in order to get better more completely or quickly. It is not the role of a Defence medical examiner to provide this advice to patients, but most will offer some suggestions. Most will form a good impression of you from your request.
8. When you leave the appointment, find a restaurant or nearby location to sit down. Write out all questions and answers that you can recall from the examination. The doctor will be doing the same thing with his dictaphone at that time. It is not uncommon for the doctor’s medical report to quote the patient inaccurately. You will only be able to correct the errors if you have notes made at the time or shortly after your examination.
9. Book an appointment with your physician for a complete examination as soon after the Defence medical examination as you can. When you see your physician describe the examination conducted by the “independant” medical examiner so that your own doctor, who will likely be called as a witness on your behalf, may comment on and conduct the same examinations. This will give a very useful comparison between the reports of the “independent” medical examiner and your doctor - who can be expected to know you much better.
Next week, I'll talk about the process of Discoveries.